The Brickell Flatiron, project by Iosa Ghini Associati is in one of the most interesting zones of the city of Miami. Could you tell us about this important new project?
Brickell is the financial district, which in recent years has become a reference point thanks to a new mall, the Brickell City Centre, which is very popular (designed by Arquitectonica), and a Metromover that connects the area to the rest of the city, reflecting a recent focus, also in the USA, on public infrastructures. The tower, which is one of the highest in Miami, has a symbolic function as a vertical landmark, for primarily residential use in a zone that contains mostly office buildings.
Flatiron makes precise reference to the building designed by Daniel Burnham in 1902 in New York.
Of course. The idea was that after the Flatiron in New York, there would also be a Flatiron in Miami. In a frontal view, the project is like the bow of a ship, but its triangular form is clearly visible from other vantage points, in a clear tribute to the historic New York landmark.
Describing the tower in Brickell, you talk about affordable luxury. What do you mean, exactly?
The building offers various residential solutions: from 60/70 square meters on the lower levels to 700 and beyond for the penthouses. Thanks to the organic form, all the spaces are fully livable. In my view, today luxury means having air and space in the places we inhabit: an affordable luxury, also on different typological scales.
How is the project structured?
Sixty-six floors (two of which are used for technical systems), with the first 18 set aside for parking (800 places) and the others for residential use: units of different sizes, including penthouses on three levels in the upper portion, with a private pool. On the 14th floor we have placed a community zone to use for family gatherings, homeowner meetings and spaces for kids.
For you, organic, fluid forms are a sort of mantra, right?
They are themes I cherish, which set me apart. As opposed to forced geometric lines. We live in environments that tend to be constraining, but my projects move in the direction of freeing up spaces from the rigor of geometric principles, inspired by the work of great masters like Frank Gehry. In terms of construction, this generates a different touch. It also costs a bit more. Fluidity has to be used in the proper doses…
Let’s enter the complex, while you tell us about it…
On an ideal guided tour, I would suggest lingering in the hall, which has a forceful character, with fine materials and works of art chosen together with our friend, the artist Julian Schnabel, with whom we have imagined a big art gallery. This gives the residences an added value, also for the visitors who enter this marvelous space. I think all the floors are interesting (to be honest, I’m quite happy with the whole project), but if we want to focus on a sense of wonder I’d definitely advise a visit to the ‘top,’ the upper level. The view is magnificent: on one side, Biscayne Bay, and on the other a forest of towers. The fitness area is remarkable, including the outdoor part with a swimming pool and green zone, and the indoor part with a fully equipped fitness room, airy and full of light, thanks to the choice of blanched oak.
You talk about classic materials. What does the term classic mean to you: does it have a positive sense?
I am also linked to the materials of my territory, especially ceramics, which in the final analysis are quite humble in character. But when you work in the United States you have to come to terms with a different culture. Americans are always looking for prestigious materials. Often they choose stones, and Italy has an age-old tradition in the use of marble and other stones. I have focused on high-quality cladding from Italian quarries that were used by the artists of the Renaissance. Then I deployed pale-colored metals, bronze and wood, with a light, almost airy touch. I’ve accompanied them with low lighting for sustainable consumption, to create a cozy atmosphere and to enhance the works by Schnabel from the Colombo collection.
You often talk about socialization, which is an inner aspect of your background, Emilia, a land of great connections, a strategic crossroads for all of Italy...
Emilia Romagna is a place of transit, of welcome. Socializing is very important for us. Furthermore, I come from the school of Ettore Sottsass and I share in its basic idea: design that should not just have economic benefits, but also social value. In the Brickell Flatiron we express beauty and quality, but we also pay close attention to social contact, community life, which we all hope will soon be able to resume.
Project Iosa Ghini Associati - Project team Massimo Iosa Ghini, Silvia Polenta
Photos Zachary Balber /courtesy Iosa Ghini Associati