OMA reveals trio of "peanut-shaped" towers for Miami’s Coconut Grove

Shohei Shigematsu: We think Miami is the capital of Latin America at the moment. So I think that all of those islands kind of invaded into our site this quality of what is almost like an extruded landform. Shigematsu believes this sudden building boom can be credited to   Miami’s new-found status as the defacto Latin American capital. I think it is a certain Brazilian Modernism, or a certain Latin-American Modernism, which of course takes the climate into account. It that something you thought about with the design? The client was very passionate about how this place was the spiritual centre of Miami. There will also be a site-specific installation created by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. It’s not rocket science. It was one of the first settlements in Miami, one of the first communities in Miami and it still has a kind of strong sense of community. Because it’s slender you can actually bring more light into the centre of the unit. Why do you think that is? Amy Frearson: How will the building relate to the tropical climate of Miami? Of course we wanted to continue the competition scheme, but very quickly the developer came back to us and said that it’s not commercially viable to have that many towers. We liked the shape of it because, unlike the other artificial towers that are very rectangular, this has a kind of organic quality. We took the typical slab typology that is predominant right now on the waterfront and cut it into six slender towers, almost like a series of trees. But we thought this kind of column could actually frame views, and then start to create certain kinds of character within the place. Amy Frearson: I understand it’s quite typical in Miami to have this kind of space – I believe it’s called a Florida Room – a kind of balcony that creates an inside/outside space. Rendering by Bloom”It has a certain logic because on the edges where the value is higher, you have a bigger panoramic shape, and in the centre, where typically it’s harder to sell, you only have frontage on the front and the back, and you never have a corner view. I mean, the project is quite expressive but still I think we were trying to reflect the local culture and passion of Coconut Grove. News: OMA’s New York office has unveiled plans to build three residential towers   beside the bay in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighbourhood. And because the columns are externalised, balconies don’t appear like balconies, they’re more like interior excavations into the towers. “It’s a gateway for Latin America to come into the United States.”
“Also, in many South American countries even if you’re rich you can’t really show off your wealth because you’re subject to being in danger in the urban environment, so a lot of people actually come to Miami to enjoy their wealth. At least this gives a certain solidity so that it doesn’t look too much like an office building. It’s a small thing, but I think it helps. Of course culturally they’re very related, and also climate-wise. Also I think it has a growing cultural importance, largely thanks to Art Basel. I always think that an all-glass building in a tropical climate is a little bit strange.”
Each apartment will feature a generous private balcony that Shigematsu said will be “more like interior excavations into the towers”. Rendering by Craft”The external columns will actually create an effectiveness in blocking the sun, and they remove the impression that it’s all glass. And I think that money contributed to Miami’s growth.”
Rendering by Hayes DavidsonInterior designer William Sofield will design the fit-out of the building, while landscape architect Enzo Enea will oversee the exterior spaces, which will include a new public passageway across the site, connecting the city to the waterfront. “There isn’t too much of a globalised culture, and it’s not as flashy as Miami Beach.”
Rendering by Hayes DavidsonOther architects working on residential projects in the city include Zaha Hadid, Herzog de Meuron, Foster + Partners and Studio Gang. Because it’s slender you can actually bring more light into the centre of the unit.”
Rendering by BloomThe curved towers will all feature chunky columns around their perimeter walls – a feature that   Shigematsu believes will frame views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline, as well as preventing the buildings looking too much like office blocks. Rendering by Hayes DavidsonThe development will be delivered by real estate firms   the Related Group and   Terra Group, who is also responsible for the twisted apartment buildings designed by BIG for the site next door. So we thought the porosity of this site was very important, to create a connection between the waterfront and the existing city. So the columns are basically on the exterior – which is quite counterproductive to the condominium market in Miami, where the view to the water is always the most important selling point. Shohei Shigematsu: I hope so, but I don’t think anyone is really getting to that point yet. Shohei ShigumatsuRead on for a transcript of the interview with Shohei Shigematsu:
Amy Frearson: Can you begin by telling me a little bit about the project? We’ve forced that idea of extruded landform by externalising all of the columns. There isn’t too much of a globalised culture, and it’s not as flashy as Miami Beach. Plus, in the bay you have a lot of archipelagos or islands that have this undefined shape. Related story: OMA and Olin win competition to design garden bridge for Washington DC”In the end we settled with three towers – basically combining the slender towers that we proposed in the competition into three peanut-shaped towers,” he told Dezeen. Rendering by SofieldIt has a certain logic because on the edges where the value is higher, you have a bigger panoramic shape, and in the centre, where typically it’s harder to sell, you only have frontage on the front and the back, and you never have a corner view. Rendering by Hayes DavidsonAmy Frearson: Miami is known for being a very car-centric city. Rendering by BloomRem Koolhaas’ firm won a competition to design the Park Grove luxury residential scheme last year with a proposal for six slender towers. Also it provides quite deep balconies in certain places. But I think there is something common in, for example, what Herzog de Meuron did at 1111 Lincoln Road and what we’re doing. The client was very passionate about telling us the history of Coconut Grove. It’s a gateway for Latin America to come into the United States. Rendering by Hayes Davidson”We wanted to continue the competition scheme, but very quickly the developer came back to us and said that it’s not commercially viable to have that many towers,” said Shigematsu, who has led OMA’s New York office since 2006 and is responsible for the firm’s operations in North America. Rendering by CraftAmy Frearson: OMA are one of several high-profile architects working in Miami at the moment. I always think that an all-glass building in a tropical climate is a little bit strange. Somehow we only have this kind of culture in cold climates – New York, London, or anywhere in Europe, but never in Miami, or Dubai, or any of these extremely warm climates. There is a public passage across the site, which is a rare thing in private compounds like this. I think people are realising that it’s actually more tangible to combine those ambitions. You know, Miami started as a retirement city, but maybe it’s a kind of global trend – a lot of people are actually realising that a resort climate, working and culture can actually be combined. Rendering by CraftResidents will also have access to numerous facilities that include health and fitness studios, swimming pools, a billiards room, a wine cellar, a private screening and media room, and bike and watercraft storage. In the end we settled with three towers – basically combining the slender towers that we proposed in the competition into three peanut-shaped towers. We thought we had to reinforce the idea that we are representing the culture of Coconut Grove, which is essentially a very immersive experience with nature. So the art and architecture somehow became an equation for further branding or further expression of interest in the city. “We wanted to create an organic form, rather than too much of a defined tower,” said the architect, whose projects with OMA include the school of architecture at Cornell University and the upcoming Marina Abramović Institute. I think this area in Miami – this Coconut Grove area – could be the model of how to reinforce that. So the balconies are almost like little extensions of the room, or part of the room itself. According to   Shigematsu, the community is popular, partly because it one of “the rare walkable areas” in Miami. We wanted to create an organic form, rather than too much of a defined tower. Rendering by Hayes Davidson”We think Miami is the capital of Latin America at the moment,” he said.

Updated: 15.11.2014 — 06:25