Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design Inc., Miami; Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP, New York; Joseph Dirand, Paris
Convert a beacon of Miami glamour into a hotel and private residences. Restore a storied Mediterranean Revival venue. Add contemporary towers that elevate the luxury experience.
Designed by architect Russell Pancoast in 1929, the original structure is an icon in its own right. The designers preserved the former private club’s hallmark vaulted ceilings, majestic colonnades and massive fireplaces, but modernity was not forgotten. Instead, the property juxtaposes the old and new with four soaring newbuild towers, three of which extrude from Pancoast’s original designs, creating tension between the past and present.
The Director’s Cut
In the center of the property, a new elevated hotel tower appears to float above a historic courtyard, creating an indoor glass atrium that extends four stories high. The same marble steps once walked by such famed guests as Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill lead into the former club, which is now home to the 77-key hotel’s public spaces, including the lobby, lounge, library, bar, restaurant and ballroom. Indoor palm trees reflect the beachfront location, while gold finishes on the fixtures, restored ornate ceiling details and an emerald green channel surface cladding the bar play up the property’s mid-century glory. Shades of faded magnolia, beachcomber green and mahogany adorn the hotel’s Italian restaurant. The property’s airy beachfront cabanas remain the soul of The Surf Club, with five of those preserved accommodations situated along the original Cabana Row. Terrazzo flooring and a soothing, muted palette of warm neutrals and cool greens and blues take cues from the surrounding environment.
The Highlight Reel
It’s all about the architecture. The club and cantilevered hotel above serve as the centerpieces between two 12-story glass volumes, which house the property’s new residential areas. To the north, three crystalline cubes are staggered away from the historic building. To the south, another tower boomerangs away around a historic southern courtyard, as well as the club’s restored cabanas.
Matching is overrated. The designers intentionally created a striking contrast between the original property’s historic façade and the massive modern towers. But imbuing a contemporary feel didn’t mean overriding the past. Instead, the team celebrated the venue’s history by restoring its architectural charms and adding references to its former life, such as a large, site-specific installation by artist and Miami native Michele Oka Doner that tells the story of the club’s legacy.
OWNER: Fort Partners, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; OPERATOR: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto; DESIGN FIRM: Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design Inc., Miami; Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP, New York; Joseph Dirand, Paris; ARCHITECT: Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design Inc., Miami; PURCHASING COMPANY: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto; GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Coastal Construction; ARCHITECTURAL MATERIALS: EDM; Eugenio Painting; Permasteelisa; ART & ACCESSORIES: Richard Meier; AUDIO/VISUAL & ELECTRONICS: Hidi Rae; Sound Performance; System Design; BATH & SPA: Dornbracht; Durant; Waterworks; FLOORCOVERINGS: EDM; Oscar Ono; Twin Stone Designs Inc.; FURNITURE: Cassina; Zanotta; LIGHTING: Bouyea & Associates Inc.; DEHA; JDA; Renfro; SIGNAGE: Waterhouse Fuentes Design