Miami board pans Arquitectonica-designed office tower planned for Brickell

Renderings of 888 Brickell
Renderings of 888 Brickell

A scathing design critique by members of Miami’s Urban Development Review Board is forcing the architecture team behind a proposed Brickell Avenue office tower to make some aesthetic tweaks.

As a result, Venezuela’s Mezerhane family will have to wait until later this month to find out if the board will sign off on redevelopment plans for 888 Brickell Avenue, a seven-story office building constructed in 1972.

Board chairman Robert Behar said the design of the new building, a 38-story office tower designed by Arquitectonica with a steel exoskeleton wrapped around glass, was “very boring.”

“I am disappointed that at such a great, prominent location and especially with the work your firm does, we see this,” Behar said. “This is not the best example that we have seen come out of your office in a very, very long time.”

Board member Neil Hall questioned the purpose of the steel exoskeleton. “We are not in an earthquake zone and the building is not that high to warrant such a strong statement,” Hall said.

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Another board member, Fidel Perez, said the proposed tower is “too monotonous,” adding, “It bothers me that the building looks the same on all four sides.”

Raymond Fort, Arquitectonica’s lead architect on the project, said the design was meant to be simple and minimalist. “We like the idea of a pure building,” Fort said. “There is nothing in the neighborhood that does what this building does. This is more approachable from a pedestrian realm.”

Behar suggested that Fort take some time to modify his design to make it more aesthetically pleasing. “We are not saying abolish this and discard that,” the chairman said. “I think it is a matter of refining and taking it to the next level. That is what we would like to see.”

The board, Fort and the developer agreed to come back on Dec. 21 to allow Arquitectonica to make changes.

If approved, the Mezerhanes’ new building would add roughly 305,000 square feet of offices to Brickell, making it one of the first projects almost entirely composed of offices to open in the financial district during this cycle. In addition, the project would include 264 parking spaces and 3,510 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

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