Miami Green Homes

Voyage MIA article – meet Sebastian Eilert

Thank you to Voyage MIA for the feature of the day! Nice to meet you, too.


Architectural Services – Types of Services… What does an Architect do?

An architect offers a level of professional service and expertise which no other building professional can provide. An Architects are professionally qualified, legally registered to practice and bound by a code of ethics.

An architect works as a team leader as well as an individual. In many building projects the role of the architect is to coordinate a team of specialist consultants such as landscape architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, interior designers, builders and subcontractors.

The fees charged by an architect for design and documentation vary by project type and location, but rarely exceed 5% of the total cost of constructing. Including operating of the building throughout its useful life the cost is typically less than 1%.. By investing in the services of an architect, you ensure an exploration of various options for the design of your building. Through good design, an architect can enhance the value of your building and may produce significant savings, especially when it comes to operating, staffing and/or tenanting the building.

You and your architect will identify the service to be provided in your agreement and their fee will depend on the scope of their appointment. Services provided by architects include:



Building Design The primary training of an architect is in the design of buildings in terms of function, form and regulatory compliance

Program Development A good program is the first step to delivering a successful project. Often clients require help from an expert in formulating the program for their project and the architect is normally best-placed to assist.

Applying for Construction Permits Advising if your project requires planning permission and producing the relevant information for making an application to the local municipality. You may also engage an architect to provide services in connection with planning appeals. Your architect may communicate on your behalf with planning authorities.

Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) Your architect may act as PSDP or an alternative person  may be appointed to the role.

Administrating the Building Contract Dealing on your behalf with the building contractor and administrating the project to ensure that it is delivered in accordance with the design and planning permission.

Coordinating other Consultants Your project may require the input of specialist consultants such as a Structural Engineer or Quantity Surveyor, and your architect will coordinate their involvement.

Measurement Survey & Drawings Measure existing buildings for the purpose of making drawings to assist in design proposals for alterations or additions.

Condition Survey and Zoning Analysis Inspect and establish the condition of a property and prepare a report. Analyze the zoning requirements for a specific property.

Interior Design You may engage your architect to provide an interior design service, advising on loose furniture, artworks and finishes.

Sustainability Advice and Design Your architect can advise you how to optimize orientation, microclimate, building fabric, lifecycle costing, energy and water consumption and ensure compliance with Building Regulations. Additionally, if you require options for future proofing your building against future costs, or creating a zero carbon building the implications can be established by a specific studies at an early stage.

Conservation and Preservation skills If the building you own is ‘historic’, a ‘Protected Structure’ or in an ‘Architectural Conservation Area’ you will need the advice of an architect with skills in conservation and preservation. Even if your building is not listed as a historic property it can still be worthy of conservation and you will want to make sure that its character is not damaged in the process of any alterations or extensions you plan to carry out.

Project-management The architect normally is best positioned to act as the project-manager coordinating the other inputs to deliver a project successfully.

Urban Design & Master-Planning Architects are at the forefront of the design of urban spaces in existing and proposed sections of our towns and cities.

Dispute Resolution Services Architects offer dispute resolution services such as mediation and conciliation.


Architectural Style Guide Mediterranean Style – a Coral Gables favorite

Exert from the “City of Coral Gables Design Handbook”

“The Mediterranean Style Design Standards provide a strong emphasis on aesthetics and architectural design with regulations that encourage the planned mixing of uses to establish identity, diversity and focus to promote a pedestrian friendly environment. This is accomplished through the utilization of a variety of architectural attributes”

That is about all the detail the official guide provides, leaving the actual definitions up to the Architectural Review Board. The guide does provide a number of images that are supposed to help identity this suggested style that is at the heart of Coral Gables architecture.

A better description of the style would probably be the Mizner style; after architect Addison Mizner, who shaped much of Palm Beach, and South Florida with his interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revisal style. Best definition can be found on Wikipedia:

“Spanish Colonial Revival architecture is characterized by a combination of detail from several eras of Spanish Baroque, Spanish Colonial, Moorish Revival and Mexican Churrigueresque architecture, the style is marked by the prodigious use of smooth plaster (stucco) wall and chimney finishes, low-pitched clay tile, shed, or flat roofs, and terracotta or cast concrete ornaments. Other characteristics typically include small porches or balconies, Roman or semi-circular arcades and fenestration, wood casement or tall, double–hung windows, canvas awnings, and decorative iron trim.”


Indeed there are many visual examples found within the city and other parts of South Florida. It remains a visually dominant, yet climate inappropriate style. Even the outdoor spaces, porches and other outdoor features that encourage embracing the local climate, seem out of place these days.

The columns and finishes typically associate with the style no longer represent the means of construction from which they originated and the barrel tile roof has proven a hurricane nightmare.

With all the downsides of this historic style, the beauty and architectural balance of these buildings cannot be denied.

With a strong focus on sustainable and regionally appropriate design, S.E.A. generally moves away from this style in lieu of more appropriate design and construction features.

Architect versus Architect


This is not an homage to an old MAD comic or otherwise a call to war. This is however a (somewhat) serious distinction between the use and meaning of the word architect and architect.

It would be curious to take an official poll to understand what mostly pops into the mind of a person when asked what is an architect, or what does an architect do. Since I do not have access to such data, I did ask a bunch people that I interact with during the course of a few days. Pretty much without exception, they pointed to “someone who designs houses”… to something more general but clearly related to the construction industry.

Do the same search online, particularly when looking for employment, and the result is quite different. The vast majority of architects online relate to the IT field. Here the architect positions seek designers of platforms, networks and systems, rather than buildings, places and cities.

So what then is to become of the word “architect”? Having gone through extensive education, years of verified experience and licensing to allow myself to be called “architect” (indeed persons pretending to be an architect but not licensed are subject to disciplinary action and penalties), it is quite strange to fall under the expanding understanding as network designers. While the latter also have training, they are not required to be licensed in order to be called architect, nor do they have to undergo years of training.

Finally, a licensed architect, by executing the skill s/he learned is entrusted with the welfare of the general public (at least under Florida license). Maybe the same standard should be applied to the IT architect as the field of IT continuous to grow. Going forward however, the profession “architects” is clearly in a state of conflict.

Does architect simply mean “to design” something? …then what is the purpose of licensing? …and what does the public response mean as for the impression of the architect. Maybe it is time to rethink the education and practice of architecture in this transforming time. I always liked the idea to be called a Master – Builder; as in the times of old!


…curious about thoughts and comments!


Architectural Style guide – South Florida: Transitional Style

A recent project in Coral Gables, Florida encouraged me to define a style currently growing in the South Florida markets. It is often referred to as Florida Modern or Key West Modern but more accurately called Transitional Style. It can be defined as follows:

Transitional Style (also known as “updated classic”, “classic with a contemporary twist”, “new takes on old classics”) in design refers to a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, midway between old world traditional and the world of chrome and glass contemporary; incorporating lines that are less ornate than traditional designs, but not as severely basic as contemporary lines. As a result transitional designs are classic, timeless, and clean.

Curves combine with straight lines in a transitional style to deliver a look that balances both masculine and feminine attributes for a comfortable, contemporary design. The scales of the pieces are ample but not overwhelming. A lack of ornamentation and decoration keeps the focus on the simplicity and sophistication of the design.[1]

Unlike contemporary style, transitional style focuses on comfort and practicality to meet the lifestyle of an active household. it looks somewhat traditional on the outside (not a contemporary style home) but on the inside, it most likely has the very open floorplan as well as possibly 2 story volume ceilings, etc, not the traditional well defined rooms with doors and four walls.

3D View 36

Rendered view of Coral Gables design home.

Look for more style definitions and examples in future posts

Architects and the like…
September 19, 2009, 1:42 am
Filed under: Building knowledge | Tags: , ,

The AIA national just stated that it is not necessarily illegal to use the term “architect” in reference to oneself if one is indeed not a licensed architect. This may be true on a national level and the proprietary use of the word itself.

In our home state however, it is against the Florida Statues to do so. When noting oneself as an architect, architect in training, architect intern or offering architectural services, the individual and firm must be a licensed one and be able to prove it, too.

 As the client, make sure that you will be serviced y a licensed professional. We have the license, and all the requirements to upkeep Continuing education and other goodies, for a reason. That reason is to protect the public welfare and provide services that will not endanger your life. We are actually held accountable for our work for 12 years once the seal goes on your plans.

Miami Dade county has an enormous array of required permits. There are about 40 categories that require the owner to have a building permit. To learn more, contact your design professional or look at the Miami Dade County portal:

There are some permits that can be obtained for a specific component by the contractor directly without the need for an architect. Painting the exterior of your home or business is a great example for this.

Once combining multiple required at the same time, consider hiring a professional to ensure that you have covered all aspects of your project and will not be fined for lack of a permit once building is underway. Choose your architect to fit your project. Most of us specialize in some field as the spectrum is quite large. When looking at remodeling or upgrading a home or business, a small firm can provide you with better, more economical service than a 100 person firm can.

You can learn more about choosing the right architect and also appropriate contract documents at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) website: If you are looking for more sustainable focused professionals, like myself, take a look at the Walk the Walk website:

Contact your sustainable design specialist in South Florida to learn more for your next proejct: Sebastian Eilert Architecture (