If anyone has witnessed the evolution of Miami’s architecture over the last 40-plus years, it’s Bernardo Fort-Brescia.
The Peruvian native is a founding principal of Arquitectonica, an international architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, and urban planning design firm headquartered in Miami, Florida’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. The company also has offices in ten other cities throughout the world.
Fort-Brescia spoke to Paul Makovsky, the editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT magazine at Elevate, an exclusive gathering in Miami during early December of the biggest names in the luxury high-rise market.
The duo discussed Arquitectonica’s boundary-pushing residential projects, such as Regalia. This building is a 46-story luxury condominium project in Sunny Isles Beach. The condo contains 39 full-floor units with 360-degree views, and the building’s unique features include balustrades forming horizontal bands that change from floor to floor. This design creates a sculpture that embodies the feeling of ocean waves and breezes coming toward the beach.
Also in Sunny Isles Beach is the instantly recognizable Ritz-Carlton Residences and Spa. Arquitectonica designed this 800,000-square-foot luxury high-rise development on a 2.2-acre beachfront site. The 50-story tower features ocean views for every unit and includes five penthouses – one penthouse per floor – in the top five floors.
Sustainability plays an enormous factor in many projects worldwide, and it’s an element that drives many of the projects in Fort-Brescia’s portfolio. He said engineers are trying to be inclusive, but it can depend on what’s feasible and logical in specific markets. Architecture is driven by the demands of the buyers but also the need for architectural resiliency.
Mixing the big and small
While his firm is known for large and glamorous structures, Fort-Brescia spoke about the importance for his office to mix larger and smaller projects, simply due to the speed in which the latter can be accomplished, thereby giving his staff a sense of quicker satisfaction.
“Not everyone wants to be in a huge building,” Fort-Brescia said. “Some people want to live in a building with only 25 units. It’s more intimate. We love doing smaller projects. It’s crucial to have balance in the office and smaller projects we can resolve quickly, instead of waiting five or six years to complete a large high-rise. It’s nice to mix the big and small for the spirit of the staff.”