A European approach for The Ritz-Carlton Residences

The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach are the new frontier in ultra-luxury residential developments. Seven acres in the heart of the fashionable South Florida island, on the banks of Surprise Lake, which offer a unique panorama immersed in a rejuvenating nature. The project’s exclusivity is not only guaranteed by an exceptional property, The Ritz-Carlton, now a synonym for hospitality excellence, but also by a team of developers and top-notch designers: the developer of the Residences is 4701 North Meridian, a partnership between Lionheart Capital and Elliott Management Corporation, based in Miami; the Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni heads the design team, supported by the firm ADD Inc. Lissoni’s modern, futuristic vision is combined with the American chain’s services and amenities: this has given rise to 111 apartments and 15 single-family villas, equipped with 36 private boat dockages. The interiors of all the two-to-five-bedroom homes range, which encompasses floor spaces between 500 sq m to 3000 sq m in a selection of 60 different floor plans, have been carefully  executed and developed. Light pervades the spaces through large glass walls that define the architectural perimeter, creating a

constant dialogue between interior and exterior. The project boasts a number of special amenities, including a waterfront social room with a bar; a catering kitchen; a tropically landscaped half-acre roof-top pool deck with stunning views of Miami

Beach, Downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay; an expansive infinity-edge pool with a waterfall, spacious cabanas, a whirlpool spa and poolside Grille Restaurant; a club room with a bar, virtual golf and billiard table; a cinema-quality private theater; a children’s room, and art and music rooms. «The fusion of Piero Lissoni’s modernist vision with the unrivaled service and legacy of The Ritz-Carlton is a rare offering, unmatched in South Florida – said Ophir Sternberg, CEO of Lionheart Capital – Lissoni’s modern and artistic design will create a development that will change the Miami Beach skyline and how we look at luxury living».

The architect Piero Lissoni offers his own insight on the development.

What is it about your design that has conquered the American public?
To be completely honest, I don’t know. Our firm was chosen by the Ritz-Carlton Residences because they saw some of our past international projects and liked our approach to building design. The project began with an original building that was difficult to deal with: it once housed a hospital, which could not be completely demolished. They chose our firm because we are reasonably capable when it comes to this kind of task: we completely redesigned everything and transformed it into a new design, while preserving part of the old structures. This European approach to architectural intervention certainly benefitted us.

What do you mean by “European approach”?
The ability to come up with a complicated design that is simultaneously respectful and courageous – this approach has been particularly developed in Europe. We are used to it, we live in complicated cities like London, Paris, Rome, Venice and Amsterdam, with a burden of historical material that is sometimes very hard to bear, but at other times it is a lifesaver. For the Miami Beach Residences, we tried to take exactly this approach.

Miami is a fast-growing city with an exciting design scene. Have you already had the opportunity to work here? How did your relationship with the property and the developer evolve?
Today the most beautiful, important and expensive projects in Miami have ended up in the hands of European architects, something that was practically impossible until five or six years ago. I have already completed some small projects here, but this is thefirst major one and fortunately we now have others in the pipeline. There was a daily dialogue with the client about what we could do and what we wanted to do, with restrictions due solely to the place, the size of the intervention and the attempt to respect architectural quality. The project, as is the case generally, was the result of a very strong collaboration and a certain amount of compromise. I tried to contribute with much of my own input, just as they did.

What architectural solution did you adopt for the restyling of the structure?
In contrast to what is normally done in Miami, where they create vertical towers that rise to 150 meters, the project progressed horizontally with a very low impact. We ensured that the buildings were not excessively high: 7, 8, and in some places 10 floors – by local standards, they are a ridiculously low. The general plan was retained, but the buildings have been shaped and designed according to their function, in a rather precise way. There are areas that I wanted to design as lofts with wide-open spaces – units of 500 sq m each. I was able to take a wide-ranging approach to the interior and arrangement of the sizes.

On the subject of the concept for the Residences, what style did you want to give them?
We designed very contemporary buildings, which have little in common with the local style. They are not very Miami. I stayed in the sphere of modern architecture, without rustic details or features typical of the city. The client wanted the apartments to have very urban designs, with very little maritime influence. In fact, they have been designed for a public that is unaccustomed to this type of space, as if they were very European, urban buildings. But above all, we have filled them with Italian design.

Which brands did you want as partners for the furnishings?
A broad range of different names. Boffi for kitchens and bathrooms, Porro, Living Divani, pieces by Cassina and B&B Italia, Flos for lighting, Zucchetti for taps and many others. In this case, I opted for a lot on Italian brands, since I wanted to achieve overall quality that, in my opinion, the Italian model is able to provide. Since they are very urban residences, Italian brands are the only ones that really understand this context.

What innovations can these companies bring to America? 
The American public, especially that of Florida and Miami, is an unusual public. Miami has become a sort of global hub: many cultures co-exist here, from South America, Europe and North America. It is a curious, very open-minded city – those who live here are already prepared to be more creative and are slightly more cultured in the field of design. We Italians are showing them another aesthetic model which they have certainly understood and very much appreciate. Luckily for us.

The Ritz Carlon Residences are part of the collection Contract&Hospitality – Spring/Sumer Book 2016 by IFDM, also available in digital version.

Client: Lionheart Capital
Property management: The Ritz Carlton
Design team: Lissoni Associati, ADD Inc
Photo credits: Courtesy of Lionheart Capital