As one of Miami’s most influential architects, Rene Gonzalez revolutionizes the way luxury buildings are equipped for climate change. Tactile, experiential, and holistic, the work of his namesake office demonstrates a belief in the inseparable connection between nature and architecture, creating spaces that are memorable and timeless. Surveying fourteen residential, commercial, and cultural projects in Florida, marking the first phase of his career, Rene Gonzalez Architects: Not Lost in Translation illustrates Gonzalez’s ability to distill the essence of place, distinguishing his work both in his home state of Florida and in the global landscape of contemporary architecture. Projects featured in the book include three Alchemist boutiques, the first of which won the 2011 National AIA Institute Honor Award; the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, whose one million glass mosaic tiles create the illusion of a jungle oasis on the exterior; the eighteen-story GLASS Residential Tower in Miami Beach; the “pocket sanctuary” that is vegan restaurant Plant Food + Wine; and the North Beach Oceanfront Center, which serves as an inviting gathering ground to the North Miami Beach community.
Gonzalez is especially attuned to environmental issues that are affecting the world, and which will drastically alter design practice in the coming years. RGA is receiving widespread attention for its efforts to respond to these emerging conditions, and these projects reveal Gonzalez’s commitment to embrace and celebrate the environment, seizing the opportunity to enhance our future.
Rene Gonzalez Architects: Not Lost in Translation is a deeply personal book that illustrates Gonzalez’s fascination with the world that surrounds him. Featuring a conversation with Gonzalez’s colleagues Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, essays by journalists Caroline Roux and Beth Dunlop, as well as his own photographs of Miami’s vernacular architecture, this book documents Gonzalez’s progressive and responsive architecture that is of its place yet universally resonant.
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Rene Gonzalez Architects
Rene Gonzalez Architects Not Lost in Translation CONTRIBUTORScolon.case TOD WILLIAMS, BILLIE TSIEN, CAROLINE ROUX, BETH DUNLOP THE MONACELLI PRESS
Prairie Residence one.casetwo.case Key Biscayne Residence three.casezero.case GLASS Residential Tower five.casezero.case Biscayne Bay Residence seven.casetwo.case Alchemist 1 nine.casetwo.case Alchemist 2 one.casezero.casesix.case Alchemist 3 one.casetwo.casezero.case KARLA one.casethree.casetwo.case Plant Food + Wine one.casefour.casesix.case Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation one.casefive.caseeight.case Speed Limits Exhibition one.caseseven.casetwo.case North Beach Oceanfront Center one.caseeight.casetwo.case Allison Island Residence two.casezero.casezero.case Indian Creek Residence two.casezero.caseeight.case TOD WILLIAMS AND BILLIE TSIEN IN CONVERSATION WITH RENE GONZALEZ zero.casesix.case INTRODUCTION BY CAROLINE ROUX zero.caseeight.case PROJECTS INSERTS DREAMS: STILTSVILLE HOUSES THE FLOATING HOUSE: ARCHITECTURE LIGHTER THAN AIR BY BETH DUNLOP PHOTO ESSAY BY RENE GONZALEZ ROOTScolon.case LITTLE HAVANA PERSIANAS, PORTALES, AND PATIOS BY BETH DUNLOP PHOTO ESSAY BY CECILIA HERNANDEZ, MAURICIO DEL VALLE, AND RENE GONZALEZ TABLE OF CONTENTS PROJECT CREDITS two.casethree.casetwo.case BIOGRAPHY two.casethree.casefour.case BIBLIOGRAPHY two.casethree.casesix.case PHOTO CREDITS two.casefour.casezero.case
six.case TOD WILLIAMS AND BILLIE TSIEN IN CONVERSATION WITH RENE GONZALEZ When Rene came to us and asked us to write a few words for this book, we decided to ask him three seemingly random questions about art, objects, and memory with the aim of triggering a response of both words and pictures. We strongly believe in the power of peripheral vision. When you look out of the corner of your eye, you discover things you overlook when you are focused straight ahead. The wandering path takes you to new places. So the questions were not random; they were simply peripheral. What we discovered about Rene is that he loves the resonance of contrast. He conjures a particularly powerful image when he describes his first (and only) encounter with the James Turrell Skyspace at MoMA PS1. The ethereal quality of the sky is made richer and more complex by the accompaniment of the boom box and teenage conversation overheard from outside the 'frame.' Rene has an appreciation for the high and the low, the refined and the common, the physical and the immaterial. Each one sweetens the other, neither is complete without the other. That also means that one negotiates between the two poles, leaving a strong sense of longing for a place that cannot be reached. In his memoir Speak, Memory, Vladimir Nabokov writes, 'A person hoping to become a poet must have the capacity of thinking several things at a time.' In Rene's case, he is thinking of opposite things at the same time. Like the Stiltsville houses that he refers to in his writing, as well as his practice, he reaches for the sky while happily tethered to the ground. 1. Name three paintings (artworks) that are important to you and why? 1.1 When we first met and talked about the book in your office, you asked me this question. My immediate reaction was to think of Classical paintings you would find in a museum and I was horrified to think that I didn't have one painting that I connected with in a significant way and that I could cite as a source of inspiration. Then I thought for a bit longer and considered art in a wider context and I thought of many examples, starting with the opening scene in the Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World (6). The scene was like a Renaissance painting. It was so rich and layered'it was surreal and ephemeral. A woman in a futuristic outfit wakes up in a Venetian apartment. The setting was very sensual and decadent with beautiful people almost floating around. It was full of objects that were perfectly placed in the space and others that were broken and in disarray. The scene was full of history and culture. I remember this scene as if it were a painting. But what made this so memorable to me was that it was ethereal. In my mind it existed in layers that would appear and disappear'the elements didn't all make sense and I loved that. I was intrigued. My wish is that all of my spaces have this quality, are rich in texture, spatially complex, and intriguing. 1.2 I also thought of James Turrell. When I was in college, I read Lawrence Weschler's book about Robert Irwin called Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees. I connected with the idea that in order to rethink something you have to break it down to its essential qualities, break down the boundaries that make it up. Then it can be re-presented. I started to look more at James Turrell's work and one day in the early '90s when PS1 had just been completed, I spent an evening in his Skyspace installation Meeting (5). I fell in love with this moving painting in the ceiling. The sky and the clouds were the canvas. But they were in motion so the image was constantly changing. It was a dynamic experience. The experiential qualities of the work were not only visual, as you could also hear the ambient sound in the neighborhood. Although the sculpted opening in the roof of this four-story building was only open to the sky, the distant noises drizzled into the room. I remember the beautiful contrast between the serene, minimalist blues of the sky and hearing New York teenagers chatting on a stoop nearby. They had a boom box and you could hear the distant music, which had nothing to do with the pictureperfect blue sky in Turrell's artwork. It wasn't classical music'it was hip-hop and pop. This made it so exciting to me. The two things had nothing to do with each other yet they coexisted organically and beautifully. There was an acceptance of these two seemingly incongruent things 1 2 3
seven.case within the canvas and the experience. I sat in the room for hours. It was magical and memorable. I never went back for fear that the experience and the memory would be altered and replaced with a lesser one. 1.3 The third work of art that I love and that inspires me is a piece I own by my artist friend, Robert Melee (1). It's a black noodle painting and is hung in my bedroom. Like much of Robert's work, it encompases lowbrow and highbrow. He utilizes very ordinary materials, flour pasta noodles, and transforms them into a sensual artwork by organizing them into a repetitive pattern and coating them with plaster and black glossy acrylic paint. I am fascinated by how he is able in his work to take mundane, seemingly ugly things and transform them into beautiful, sophisticated, glamorous pieces. My black noodle painting is constantly changing depending on how the light is hitting it and one's position in relation to it. I also like to use recognizable and familiar materials that are generally overlooked and work with them in uncommon and unexpected ways. I think people can often intuitively relate to them since they are implicitly familiar. This kind of connection between people and architecture can be so meaningful. 2. Choose a utilitarian object that inspires you. I guess I'm expected to select a highly resolved design object from a highly respected industrial designer, maybe a cutlery set by Lella and Massimo Vignelli, whose work I venerate, or the PK chairs by Poul Kjaerholm. But instead? my mind wanders to the everyday objects that are special to me and that I use without thinking much about their design. I love foam cortadito coffee cups for example or the Italian Bialetti espresso maker (2). Yes I'm Cuban and I drink cafecitos throughout the day and even in the evening (nothing better to help you sleep!). I have grown to love these foam cups with their plastic tops. They may not have the same level of sophistication as a refined design object but they have become important to me as they are culturally familiar and special in my daily ritual. First, it's important to note that I get these at a ventanita, a Miami coffee window, so the foam cup is made richer and elevated because of the experience of listening to the banter that is heard at the caf? ('ventanita talk? as I like to call it). The white foam cup is utilitarian as it keeps the cafecito warm. This is extremely important for me as I sip it'sometimes for hours. The foam has a texture which is tactile and comforting. The plastic top has a small perforated aperture that allows you to open it and drink without the coffee getting too cold too fast or spilling. Interestingly, I have a light fixture that Paul Cocksedge designed from melted foam cups, which I love (3). Although, I am sure that a Brit didn't design it because he loves drinking cafecitos from foam cups which he gets at ventanitas. The fixture is a large globe made of hundreds of cups that meld into each other and form a texture of recessed cylinders. I have an emotional connection to it because of the cups and it is a beautiful exploration of materiality. 3. We think of your work as being related to the sky and to the water. Are there any memories or experiences in your childhood that led you to this direction? I love the ocean and the beautiful sunsets in Miami. Bright blue skies give me energy. The sunsets in Miami are so surreal that I often have to argue with renderers to make the sky in our renderings more intense and dramatic to match the intensity of the true Miami sky. I realized after living away from south Florida, where I grew up, that I am deeply connected to water and sky. I lived in cities that were landlocked and I did not feel comfortable. It's like there was something always missing. Even in LA I did not feel at home, as the ocean there is a barrier instead of something that you penetrate'it is too cold for me. In Miami, I go to the beach and go in the water. I often spend my weekends on a boat on the bay with friends or paddle boarding. It's very familiar. I will soon be building my home on Biscayne Bay with sweeping views of the water and expansive sky. As a child in Fort Lauderdale I remember going to the beach every day with my mom and my little brother in the afternoons when I got out of school. I think I am a warm-blooded Caribbean boy and that draws me to water and beaches and always will. 4 5 6
eight.case Lincoln Road, with pivoting mirrors that bring sky and clouds right into the lofty space. At night, the store becomes a dazzling beacon of light. For a grand speculative house on Indian Creek, he focused on the bay, the shore of which the house is positioned; every route through the house leads towards it. 'The continual presence of water provides the sense of place, and says 'Miami? to an owner who might have three or four other properties around the world,' says Gonzalez. 'Every space in the house flows towards the bay, with a series of experiences along the way.' Equally, the Prairie House emerges from a need to be both spectacular and safe. But Rene Gonzalez's architectural incentives are the product of a number of eventualities. His education in the subject took place both on the East and the West coasts of the US, allowing him to be schooled in both the rigor of the first and the freewheeling thinking of the other. He worked with Richard Meier'an architect known for the precision and geometry of his designs'on the Getty Center in Los Angeles; and with Mark Hampton, whose glamorous tropicalism can be seen at Miami's Bal Harbour mall. Hampton himself had been part of the Sarasota School of Architecture, where much attention was paid to climate INTRODUCTION BY CAROLINE ROUX On Prairie Avenue in Miami's South Beach, just north of Lincoln Road, a house was newly completed in December 2016, the first in a series of elevated houses that its architect, Rene Gonzalez, hopes can provide a blueprint for future designs. The house is raised on stilts, answering a pressing need to provide an architecture resistant to rising sea levels and flooding. The void beneath offers shelter, too. But Gonzalez has looked backward as well as forward to find this future-proof solution. Back in the 1800s, Florida's Seminole Indians built their Chickee huts on stilts, to keep them off the wet ground and provide natural ventilation, a response he has mirrored here. This is typical of Gonzalez's process that weaves context'social, geographical, and environmental'into the heart of the brief. He is an architect whose work talks both of its place and its purpose, of the past and the future. The hovering Prairie House is composed of highly tactile planes? in cast-in-place concrete and grey 'pe wood and glass'that shoot through the first-floor space to create a sequence of individual pavilions. By day, the interiors are filled with endlessly mutating patterns of light and shadow. By night, the long skinny pool provides a central illumination and focal point. These discrete parts are linked by outdoor pathways (the client is a brave one, who doesn't mind getting wet in the rainy season); the water from the pool spills down the supporting wall to the ground floor, as a cooling system on hot days and nights. A folded bronze stair leads to the elevated living floor, which seems to be thoroughly immersed in the rich tropical foliage that surrounds it. And the stair, it turns out, is a drawbridge, which can be pulled up and into the house, sealing off the interior completely when the owner is absent. The citizens of Miami, where the weather offers up extremes of heat, rain, and wind, have often been inclined to hide away in heavily chilled boxes, from the candy-colored exemplars of the Art Deco period onwards. But Gonzalez, who has lived in the city since 1994, has consistently tried to explore a more sympathetic form of tropical living, particularly exploring a more porous relationship between the interior and the exterior. 'Everything I design is connected to its environment,' he says. 'I do this by highlighting, magnifying, and turning up the volume on specifics tied to place. In this way, the projects become richer and hopefully, more memorable. This seems critical in a world where we are interacting globally and hopping from city to city to the extent that all becomes a blur.' These relationships'between exterior and interior, between architecture and nature, and the building and the city'are central to his work. He filled the multi-brand fashion store Alchemist, perched on the fifth floor of the celebrated Herzog & de Meuron parking garage at 1111
nine.case and geography, as well as more effusive design details like oversized windows and floating stairs. You can see the influence of Paul Rudolph, Sarasota's leading light, in Gonzalez's phenomenological approach. Gonzalez also credits his origins with much of his thinking. He was born in Cuba in 1963, though left with his family at the age of three. 'I believe there's something that binds you forever to where you're born,' he muses. 'I have this deep connection to the Caribbean'its warm waters, its beaches, its tropical landscape.' Even an 18-story apartment tower is rendered in glass, so its upper reaches take on an almost liquid appearance, connecting it to the qualities of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Rene Gonzalez grew up in Fort Lauderdale with his parents and a younger brother. 'Growing up, I saw it as a beautiful city, full of canals and waterways,' he says. 'Our home was on one of these canals, and once my father got established we had a good quality of life, with lots of time spent outdoors on the water in boats.' Expatriate life meant large family gatherings, filled with storytelling, that often took place in his grandparents's small apartment in Miami's Little Havana. His grandfather had been a political prisoner under Castro and spoke often of the country he'd left behind. 'There was always something to trigger a tale, talking was really valued,' says Gonzalez. 'I still love going to a Cuban caf? window to grab something to eat, and listen to the banter in the Cuban Spanish that I speak.' His architectural education began at the University of Florida, where the subject was presented as a purely intellectual pursuit. But then he earned a place at a summer school in Vicenza, Italy. The students? studio was in Palladio's Basilica and the professors introduced them to the work of Italian architects. Among these was Carlo Scarpa, a master of material sensuality and a believer in craftsmanship. 'His work was so experiential,' says Gonzalez. 'The forms are derived from wanting to create a certain experience, those forces shaped the building. The architectural design organically accommodates these forces in a sympathetic, understated, and elegant way. This was really a different process that relied on tensions and forces. The dogmatic mathematical architecture which had made so much sense to me suddenly felt less important.' His studies next took him to UCLA, where the graduate program was fluid and dynamic under instructors like Eugene Kupper and Frank Israel. Frank Gehry was a visiting lecturer''his Santa Monica Place and early houses in Venice threw me for a loop when I first saw them,' says Gonzalez of Gehry's ground-breaking, chainlink-clad building in Santa Monica from 1980 that deconstructed the very idea of the mall and his early simple houses whose aesthetic expression relied on their wood construction methods. 'There were experimental practitioners in the city like Thom Mayne and Michael Rotondi. Fascinating people who weren't in the architectural limelight, but were pushing the boundaries.' The Master's program was at times almost ridiculously broad. 'I remember for example that there was one student with a Chinese literature degree and no architecture background, and some people couldn't draw! I was floored at first but I stuck with it and grew to love it. Eventually it allowed me to think and work in a more intuitive way and I came to understand the value of happy accidents.' In Los Angeles he also saw the results of an earlier generation of California modernism, by both European immigrants and Americans, including the Schindler House and the Case Study houses by Richard Neutra and Charles and Ray Eames. Gonzalez took good note of the fluidity they proposed between inside and out, privileging the city's unique connection with nature. For his thesis project, he chose a flooded site in the Florida Keys and designed a monastery that seemed to float upon it, celebrating the peculiar watery conditions. He had chosen Michael Palladino, a partner at Richard Meier's office and the leading designer on the Getty Center, to supervise his thesis, and was offered a job in the practice on graduation (hardly surprising, given that Gonzalez had been honored as Student of the Year). 'Being in Meier's studio taught me how much work it takes for a design to appear effortless,' he says. 'It was impactful. I discovered that this person who produced a perfect world put in so much work to make it look effortless.' It was also fun. Meier, not known as a happy-go-lucky type, was rather more relaxed in Los Angeles. 'We went to his house
one.casezero.case for barbeques,' says Gonzalez. 'Though we still wore shirts and ties to the office. Everyone else in LA wore T-shirts to work and I rather liked the white shirt. I was young and somehow it felt professional.' (Gonzalez can often be seen in a crisp white shirt today.) By 1989, Gonzalez had married and when his wife became pregnant, they moved to Miami. His first solo project, like so many architects, was for a family member. 'My father had bought a beautiful ranch on seven acres, and I designed an addition for the guest house'a very simple, light building in wood and anodized aluminum, with a stucco facade. I built it with my brother'it nearly ended our relationship!' It also provided a rapid learning curve, as Gonzalez carried out much of the construction himself and the budget was kept low. It was published in Metropolitan Home in 1995. Miami in the early 1990s was a glitter-ball city of discos and darkness; culture wasn't high on the agenda. But the architect Mark Hampton had been hired in 1992 to turn the Washington Storage Company building into the Wolfsonian Museum and Gonzalez joined his team, working on the museum'an institution with which he still maintains strong links'as well as residential projects and retail sites at Bal Harbour. 'Mark understood clients and their needs,' says Gonzalez. 'He went out of his way to make them happy, to create a situation that they really wanted. Architects can be egocentric and Mark showed me more sensitive approach. He believed in architecture as a service, and that people should be happy in the houses he designed for them.' Gonzalez 'a good listener, but also a clear communicator'has honed the skill of understanding a client's desires and equally of persuading them round to his vision for the architectural solution. By 1997, Gonzalez had established his own office, and was teaching part-time at Florida International University. As with many young architects building a career from scratch, he found himself establishing his credentials through an inevitable series of kitchens and bathrooms. 'I did one kitchen as a wall that ran through an entire house, as one fundamental organizing element. I took it seriously'I could have been designing a small city! It allowed me zoom in on and think about the small details.' By 2006, Gonzalez had received a significant commission, to convert a dank 1936 warehouse in the gritty Wynwood district of Miami into a welcoming space to house the Latin American art collection of Ella Cisneros Fontanals; to turn an industrial leftover into a place for culture. Here Gonzalez would look to his hero, Carlo Scarpa, who had shown great skill and sensitivity in renovating and repurposing old buildings; Gonzalez too believed in the environmental importance of reuse. He created a deliberately quiet and flexible 12,500 squarefoot interior in concrete and drywall partitions that would allow the Cisneros collection to be shown in different ways. But he gave it a dazzling tropical exterior, cladding an entire wall with a bamboo pattern rendered in multi-colored glass mosaic tiles from the Italian specialists Bisazza. With bamboo and weeping ficus planted in the surrounding landscape, a harsh part of Miami's warehouse district had been transformed into a piece of luscious jungle instead. Since then, Gonzalez has been seen as one of Miami's major architectural players, and one with a particular understanding of artworks. In the Aqua Island Residence, whose interior he completed in 2008, the main stair in the foyer is dematerialized by a cladding of small opalescent glass tiles and aluminum panels. At the Icon residence, a 'pleated? wall has been installed to reflect the environment, which reverberates around the project. The design privileges the apartment's extraordinary view sweeping from Miami's Downtown skyline to Biscayne Bay. 'It was about creating light and transparency,' says Gonzalez. 'I wanted it to be a place to float through and provide an enhanced and sensory experience of place. When you read a book or see a movie, you remember the narrative. You keep singing songs you've heard. A space should do the same thing,' he says. 'It should leave an imprint.' INTRODUCTION BY CAROLINE ROUX
one.caseone.case He has applied this equally to his projects for Roma Cohen and Erika Sussman, whose Alchemist boutiques are the most fashion-forward in Miami. The first, on the fifth floor of a Herzog & de Meuron parking building on Lincoln Road, was completed in 2010. For the second, a concept store completed in 2012 in the same building but at pavement level, he inserted a saw-tooth lining, that narrows towards the back of the store. 'We needed to think about maximizing merchandising space, but also how to draw people in from the street to provide a space that was simultaneously enticing and protective,' says Gonzalez. 'The solution was to conceptually insert a Styrofoam cooler into the space.' The result is a series of insulated vignettes greeting the passerby, and a beachy feeling created with a pebbled floor that provides a particularly Miami sense of place. 'I love fashion,' reflects Gonzalez. 'Just the speed of it. Sometimes I get very impatient with the way architecture is so very slow.' He is also curious about the architecture of his contemporaries. In conversation he will talk admiringly of the experiential nature of the work of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, or the ingenuity with materials that Shigeru Ban so often demonstrates, and the Japanese architect's acuity at building in situ with whatever is available. Peter Zumthor, he says, shows that restraint is not the enemy of sensuality. These are all considerations in his own work. Of course, as the projects get bigger, the pace gets slower. In 2016, he completed his largest work to date, the 18-story GLASS condominiums'the last tower south of 5th Street to be built at this height, thanks to an existing permit. Bearing in mind the context of modest 5-story neighbors, Gonzalez's main concern was to create something that would contribute to the neighborhood, and not dominate it. 'That's why it became all glass,' he explains. 'I wanted to make it lighter and absorbent of its surroundings. When you look at it, you read the sky and the clouds and the other buildings first.' The facade is continually animated by reflections that play with the building's geometry. It is jewel-like and gentle'a twinkling presence that stands out from Miami's sometimes lumpen, hurricane-proof, developer-driven residential architecture. Since the launch of the Prairie House coincided with the annual staging of Art Basel Miami Beach, Gonzalez grasped the opportunity to put on two types of show, and open it to a handful of invited guests. First he filled its still empty spaces with intriguing new design pieces that he'd discovered on trips to Europe, all of which demonstrated an investment in materiality that Gonzalez responds to. They included a table and collaboratively developed mirrored glass palette by the Amsterdam-based Germans Ermi's, whose surfaces of graduated color seemed to mimic the Miami sky. Then he invited Joseph Keckler'an extraordinary performer of very modern Lieder'to perform beside the illuminated lap pool, using the walkway beside it as a skinny stage. On the wall behind the artist, films and subtitles played out as he sang of lost love and torturous GPS systems. Gonzalez explained that he had invited the performer, 'because his work is urban and spatial.' It is also thoughtful and progressive, grounded in reality, truthful and poetic. Architect and performer; a perfect fit.
13 Qu ietly perched off a busy street, the Prairie Residence is shielded from the noise and traffi c of its urban environment, protected from the animated activity of its surroundings. It is inwardly oriented and reaches to the sun and sky. Elevated on stilts as a response to the serious threat of sea-level rise in South Florida, it is organized as a series of separate pavilions articulated by fl oating planes that defi ne the interior spaces. Th e design acknowledges regional precedents and adapts them to contemporary living in harmony with nature. Like the Mangrove forests found in tropical and subtropical tidal areas and which protect coastal zones from erosion, storm surge and hurricanes, the house touches the ground very lightly. Elevated on columns with gardens, areas for parking and storage at the ground level, the house provides a safe haven for the inhabitants during hurricanes and fl ooding and has the feeling of being removed from the commotion of the surrounding South Beach neighborhood. Th e Florida Seminole Indians used similar methods in elevating their Chickee huts in the early 1800s to provide protection from wet ground and vermin, and to all ow breezes to fl ow under the house for ventilation. Later, in the 1930s and '40s, a community of houses named Stiltsvill e was built in Miami's Biscayne Bay as a decadent refuge to which Miamians could escape. By capturing the essence of these varied sources of inspiration, the Prairie Residence embodies the qualities of its place. Designed as a vacation home for a client living in a colder climate, the Prairie Residence is organized to have an entwined relationship to the tropical environment. Surrounded with glass along its edges, tilted concrete wall s appear to fl oat and all ow light to spill into the house creating ambiguous spatial conditions. By similarly treating the fl oor and ceiling planes as independent elements, one has the sensation of being inside a sequence of fl oating planes elevated above the ground and oriented to the sky. Th e living areas hover over a sculptural garden of roll ing tropical vegetation and are accessed by a retractable bronze stair that tightly lift s into the bell y of the house when not in use. At the top of this stair, one arrives on axis with a long lap pool that acts as a central spine for the four fl oating pavilions: the living/dining/kitchen area, the master bedroom suite, and two guest cott ages. Th e pavilions are accessed through grated metal catwalks that further emphasize the delicate connection between the ground and the living spaces. Th e Prairie House provides a destination that is at once private and protected. It is an escapist sanctuary that captures and exults in the natural environment, off ering a luxurious and meditative retreat. Prairie Residence Suspended MIAMI BEACH 3,500 SF
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