If you’re an architecture fan, you’ll easily spot this building designer for afar: an undulating exoskeleton of white structural fibreglass-reinforced concrete that snakes its way up a 62-story glass tower. Guessed it yet? Of course, curves are the signature design style of the late Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi British architect celebrated as the first woman to win a Pritzker Prize before her unexpected death in 2016 (in Miami).
Nowadays, her firm Zaha Hadid Architects keeps her memory alive through projects of similar geometry. And with the recent completion of this residential One Thousand Museum, the top architect’s first tower in the Western Hemisphere, Miami now shares in that homage.
The luxury residential tower’s facade design may seem superfluous but is actually a structural necessity. Zaha Hadid’s curvilinear style takes structural supports usually found within walls and moves them to the outside of the glass. The exterior result is a striking, almost arthropod-like imposing building, where the nine-level podium forms the head, and the top of the tower (complete with a helipad on the roof) becomes the abdomen. Though the podium marks a physical structural endpoint, the design has the illusion of continuous frames. “We took the architectural and structural expression and synthesized it as the building’s key feature,” explains Chris Lepine, a director at Zaha Hadid Architects, who adds that the project’s permanent formwork construction (a technique in which cladding casings are the structure themselves) is a world-first for an architectural building of this complexity and scale.
The structural technique also allows for fewer interior columns, affording even larger layouts to the half-floor and full-floor apartments that stack up inside. Juxtaposing the sweeping supports, the floor plans are perfectly square. However, in the amenities areas, those signature curves are omnipresent, as Zaha Hadid herself once said: “the world is not a rectangle”.
The lobby’s ceiling is formed by a series of rounded-edge panels also reflected in the reception desk; on the spa level, a tornado-like spiral stair does double duty as a welcome desk; and the interior pool on level 60 features a waterfall shear wall with a feathered pattern. Also in this top of the tower, which is billed as a sort of luxury club/event space with incredible views, the exterior structural supports from each edge come together in the ceiling.
Where this visual complexity doesn’t apply is One Thousand Museum’s colour palette, which focuses solely on the contrast between light and dark. Because the white facade, excess of glass, and bright Florida sunlight all contribute to the risk of blinding reflections, the firm chose dark stone floors throughout the lobby and amenities spaces’ interior design. Dark wood lines the walls and all soft seating is black or grey.
Zaha Hadid, for whom the city was both dear and her final resting place, seemed the optimal choice.
“Miami was like Zaha’s second home and she was very excited about this project. It’s unfortunate that she is not with us to see it completed now,” Lepine reminisces of the eight-year timeline. “We’re very happy with the results.”
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