Aqua is both the geographic and physical mid-point between the two extremes of South Florida development. Occupying 8.5 acres on Allison Island in Miami Beach’s intracoastal waterway, it is the urban-scale mediation between the waterfront high-rises of Collins Avenue and a single-family golf-course community. With three mid-rise buildings and three blocks of townhouses it represents a mid-height cityscape meets intimate village combo. It is an alternative for the buyer not desiring the density of a skyscraper nor the trappings of a large detached residence. The mid-rise condo buildings share a 330-space parking garage reclaimed from the hospital campus that previously existed on this site and, interesting to note, was the developer’s birthplace. Each of the 46 townhouses consists of three stories plus a tower room with roof terrace, and a two-car garage accessed from a rear alley. Shared amenities include a health club, daycare center, meeting room, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, boat docks, and leasable space for a convenience store, coffee shop, and offices. The variety of Aqua’s architecture was the result of a collaboration by 8 design firms coordinated by DPZ, as master planner and design arbiter.
- Diverse but Coordinated Process: 1 developer + 1 master planner + 1 construction document firm + 1 builder, but 8 design firms contributing to the vision.
- Repurposed infrastructure: hospital garage reclaimed to serve condo towers and guests.
- Unintended consequences: The developer wanted an open community, but early buyers voted for a gate and guardhouse.
Defining Design Details
- Local tradition: traditional urban plan + modernist architecture = Art Deco District in South Beach.
- Walkability: small blocks + accessible perimeter = every building engages the public realm.
- Climate response: pedestrian realm is set within tree-lined streets, intimate squares.
- Civic Art: Installations of public art figure prominently in public areas.
- Destination amenities: private marina complements a shared pool at the bow of the island.
Miami's Design Doyen: Craig Robins
From: Architectural Record reprinted in Business Week USABy: Bryant Rousseau
Aqua's vista: New Urbanist meets modernist in unique Miami Beach community
From: The Miami HeraldBy: Andres Viglucci
From: Residential ArchitectBy: S. Claire Conroy
Books & Publications
Aqua: Miami Modern by the Sea
By: Beth DunlopPublished By: Rizzoli