By Daisy Olivera.
When the television series, Miami Vice, premiered in 1984, one of Arquitectonica’s early condominium projects on Brickell Avenue, the Atlantis, splashed onto the global stage in a brief but unforgettable moment in the opening credits of the hit show. Within the center of the majestic, mirrored-glass structure accented with bright primary colors, was a square cut-out framing a live palm tree and a lipstick-red spiral staircase. Imagine viewers’ collective gasp! That audacious stroke of modernism redefined Miami and revived its stagnant skyline, putting the young firm on the map and leaving an indelible mark on the world’s view of the city. Since then, Arquitectonica has taken its signature style to projects in 59 countries — with offices in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, West Palm Beach and every continent except Australia.
“The origin of the firm is in Miami, the city that embraced us. Everything happened here first,” says the firm’s founding partner Bernardo Fort-Brescia. “It took us to the next step, doing work around the world.” Projects include the Microsoft Europe Headquarters in Paris, the International Finance Center in Seoul, Korea, the US Embassy in Lima, Peru and the American Airlines Arena in Miami. “But we can’t take all the credit. I honor the clients that believed in us when we were that young and untested.”
Fort-Brescia and his wife, the firm’s co-founder, architect Laurinda Spear, have six children, two of whom are architects with their own projects and clientele. “A new generation stepping up in the firm,” he says, proudly. As they continue to evolve in a rapidly changing environment, the refined aesthetic that also identifies Arquitectonica, is present in current projects that are in several stages of design and development throughout South Florida. In Miami-Dade County, they include One Park Tower by Turnberry at SoLé Mia, The Standard Residences in Midtown, Baccarat Residences, NoMad Residences Wynwood and Casa Bella Residences by B&B Italia in Downtown Miami. In Palm Beach and Broward counties, they include Olara, Forté on Flagler, One West Palm and Icon Marina Village in West Palm Beach, Oasis Hallandale in Hallandale and Rosewood Residences in Hillsboro Beach.
A standout as a transformative community is ONE Park Tower by Turnberry at the 184-acre, master-planned, luxury-living community of SoLé Mia in North Miami. The 33-story tower overlooks the Crystal Lagoon (which is the size of 21 Olympic-sized pools) and offers resort-style amenities within a lush, tropical landscape that includes ocean views, underlining the importance of nature. “Some projects have geography and the design benefits from it,” says Fort-Brescia. “For others, like One Park Tower, we created a master plan with a lagoon and a private beach aside from the beautiful park environmental preserve.” The development includes interior design by globally recognized Meyer Davis and gardens by acclaimed landscape architect Enzo Enea. Green spaces for biking and running trails support a focus on wellness with 1.5 million square feet of commercial space for retail and upscale restaurants and a 10-acre state-of-the-art University of Miami UHealth Medical Center.
Fort-Brescia’s son, Raymond Fort, is an architect and interior designer at Arquitectonica. “We have to understand each neighborhood and the people we’re designing for,” he explains and describes one of his projects, The Standard Residences in the heart of Midtown. The branded, 12-story building is the first of its kind, with the opportunity to live The Standard’s distinctive hotel lifestyle, blending culture and community with world-class design, amenities, and service in a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. “There’s a unique connection to the streetscape so the pedestrian view is also important for the neighborhood,” he says. “The units are not very large so everything in kitchens and bathrooms is very well-appointed and calculated with built-in pieces and nooks — many places to put your things. It’s not just a shell, that’s one of the great things about how we designed those units and I’m very excited about it.”
NoMad Residences in the heart of Wynwood presented a challenge. “The lot was so narrow,” continues Fort, “it was like a long ship facing the street, so we created a most impressive eighth level.” One portion of the roof-deck is for the NoMad Bar, the other, a private amenity area for residents. “We blended the design elements of Miami and Wynwood with industrial architecture and the result is a monumental urban tropical moment.”
In the Brickell area of Downtown, the Baccarat Residences Miami were designed with a sense of sculpture, evocative of the currents of the river. “It’s putting the finishing touches as the connector for the amazing locations along the river walk as the Miami River opens into Biscayne Bay,” adds Fort-Brescia.
The Miami Performing Arts neighborhood required a different perspective. Casa Bella Residences by B&B Italia offers a luxuriously curated Italian lifestyle with services on demand. “It’s providing energy around the performing arts center and science museum,” says Fort-Brescia. “Bringing new life into the cultural hub of Miami.”
Arquitectonica is also bringing new landmark communities to Downtown Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. “Both along the waterfront and the road along the Intracoastal facing Palm Beach, people will move there to work now, not just for the season,” states Fort-Brescia. “There’s no more you can build in Palm Beach, but in West Palm, there’s a lot happening with offices and residential. As is happening in downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s changing rapidly into a complete city with the vibrant Las Olas waterfront activated by its reputation as a major yacht center.” Arquitectonica’s overarching concept throughout is the 15-minute city. “A more pedestrian, balanced environment where you don’t need to take your car. It will change the way we think about our neighborhoods.” arquitectonica.com