Miami’s Favorite Building…

Recently I was asked a simple question, at least a simple question for a practicing architect and designer: What is your favorite building in Miami?

Immediately a number of structures came to mind, none of which I actually really liked. Worse, I could not think of a single building that either embodies something spectacular from a design perspective or truly outstanding from its integration into use and site.  How would I choose the one building that I would be proud to put my seal of approval on?

Next, I thought about a possible witty or funny response, but most of the structures that I have been involved with as principal of Sebastian Eilert Architecture were custom-made or purpose-driven and thus really must be considered very subjectively and would likely fail as Miami’s best building in any other persons view.

Now there are many examples of recent buildings, as well as a pool of historic structures, that have many features that are appropriate for our climate, passed the test of time and embody a spirit of good design. So was I to focus on choice of materials such as residual Dade County Pine, Coral Rock features and other environmentally preferred materials? What about good site placement and integration into the city’s fabric? After all, no building alone should overpower its content and neighboring environment. Or should I look into the historic integration of solar technologies, natural ventilation and landscaping choices for water savings? Then there is the workmanship of the contractor. After all, we architects are generally noted for “only” imagining things, when it is the contractor that will bring our ideas to life…a good contractor equals a good project.

Regardless, there are too many variables at play to truly make a singular statement and case for Miami’s best building and my list of good examples slowly grew. Still, the other side of the ledger far outweighs the good buildings, but there are numerous to be had.

I also recalled that I was part of the AIA Miami’s effort to compose a book of Miami’s architecture and remembered that the list composed and typology was indeed vast. There are so many great examples ranging from residences, to city halls (Hialeah, for example) to airport hangers. Renowned architects from Alfred Browning Parker to Hilario Candela have contributed high quality design for decades and a number of younger spirited individuals are making their mark today, such as Chad Oppenheim, Maricarmen Martinez of Upstairs Studio, Max Strang and, yours truly, Sebastian Eilert of Sebastian Eilert Architecture.

In the end I try to minimize my design perspective and focus on sustainable issues, and like to offer the following list, in no particular order or any claim for it to be complete:

  • Village of Pinecrest, Pinecrest Garden Lower bathroom: Yes, one of my buildings, but noted here because I have had numerous positive feedback about how the new structure blends into the site and appears to have been there from the start of the park. Integration into the environment at its best. Thank you!
  • Marine Stadium: This iconic Miami structure is currently fighting to be preserved and keep its place as part of Miami’s history as well as earn a future spot! Join to help ensure its survival.
  • Old Miami High: Miami’s first high school now preserved for many generations to enjoy.
  • M+M Residence: the home of Maricarmen Martinez, owner of Upstairs Studio is a fantastic example of contemporary residential design based in mid century principals and incorporating many sustainable features, materials and systems, such as PV to offset 60%+ of the FPL bill. It was a pleasure to assist in obtaining the well deserved LEED certification.
  • The Biltmore Hotel: This wonderful Coral Gables icon is a simple masterpiece of its time and anyone who has stayed, dined or simply visited knows why…
  • Coral Gables City Hall: Understanding the original designed master plan of downtown Coral Gables, provides an alternative perspective on its orientation and part of the grid that has been lost in recent development. Regardless, the building maintains its charm and importance for the City Beautiful.
  • The Bacardi Building: Love the stairs!, and who can pass by the elevation without noting and appreciating the deep blue mural.
  • Vizcaya: The original party house by the bay. Waterfront, pristine and well maintained garden and still in use today. I strongly recommend to attend one of their signature events (4th of July, Halloween and New Years Eve): there is no other party in Miami that can evoke the original spirit of its early residents.


What is your favorite building? Leave a comment and share…








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