Modern Mansions

Take a drive through many of South Florida’s most upscale neighborhoods and you’ll notice a change in how they look. Where there once was a sea of Mediterranean style mansions and condominiums, instead you’ll find a new aesthetic – a clean, fresh modern style that many in our real estate industry say will come to define the region’s landscape.

‘This isn’t your grandmother’s modern,’ designers are quick to emphasize. The architecture doesn’t look as if it was inspired by a space shuttle and the furniture isn’t stainless steel and PVC piping. South Florida’s current take on modern is defined by clean lines, an orientation toward bringing our picturesque outdoors inside, top-quality organic materials, and amenities that enhance our quality of life within our immediate environments.

“There is a new type of modern design evolving in South Florida – not only in residential architecture, but in the enhancements it features that speak directly to living our more modern existence,” says Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman, Florida. “The explosion of modern here is in line with the greater appreciation of our environment. It matches beautifully with crystal blue water and sandy beaches.”

Some call the trend “Tropical Modernism”, say Peter Barkin and Mark Gilman of Barkin-Gilman Associates/Coldwell Banker Previews International.

Auberge Beach Residences a Related Group project in Fort Lauderdale, will have a beach chic vibe by Meyer Davis. At 38 Pelican Drive (above), a Coldwell Banker listing in Fort Lauderdale, architect Alberto J. Comas uses glass doors all around the lower floor to let the outside in as it looks out on its very own dock.

“The design elements that characterize it are a blend of minimalism, steel, wood, stone, the elements of fire, and lots of glass and angled lines,” Barkin says. 

Homes not designed this way don’t have as much buyer appeal currently, according to Susan Rindley of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty in Fort Lauderdale.

“People don’t want the heaviness of Mediterranean anymore,” she says. “It’s about light colors that encourage you to appreciate the outdoors inside.”

Demand for Architectural Sophistication

Also driving the trend is South Florida’s growing place in the global community, encouraging architects from some of the most design-forward cities in the world to work here, says Daniel de la Vega, President of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Contemporary architecture is new to us in South Florida,” he adds. “But as we see more of the impressive work of architects like Zaha Hadid, who designed One Thousand Museum in Miami, it will become more integrated into the landscape here and may come to define it.”

A rendering of Oceanbleau. The Hollywood ultra-luxury condos, being built by Maxwelle Real Estate Group,  will look out on water views and be surrounded by parks and bike trails for an active lifestyle.

The international sophistication of our market combined with today’s strong demand for design consistent with the times has raised the bar overall on architectural standards here, says Ryan Weisfisch, of Maxwelle Real Estate Group, which is building the ultra-luxury Oceanbleau community on Hollywood Beach. The 17-story development offers 48 condos of 3,000 square feet each on a beachfront site surrounded by bike trails and parks.

The community also offers another hallmark of modern design in South Florida: huge condominium space with open floor plans that are architecturally distinct.

With spacious condo residences and design by Arquitectonica, Sabbia Beach, located oceanside in Pompano Beach, also appeals to the modern buyer. Sabbia Beach’s 72 residences include a collection of two- and three-bedroom floor plans, three penthouse suites with double ceiling height, along with four lanai residences boasting up to 3,700 square feet of outdoor living space. Each will feature private and semi-private elevator access. 

Destined to become a signature building along the Atlantic Coast, Sabbia Beach meets the modern buyer’s standard of requiring indoor and outdoor space designed by a “starchitect” – an architect whose name is considered star quality – say Amy Ballon and Lisa Whitaker, managing members of Hemisphere Sales Group who represent Sabbia Beach.

A rendering of Sabbia Beach (left), Pompano Beach, as designed by Arquitectonica and represented by Hemisphere Sales Group. A oceanic view from inside Auberge (right), Fort Lauderdale, a Related Group project, with resort-like amenities right on the sand with prices starting at $1.8 million.

Architects, such as Alberto J. Comas, who designed an exemplary modern home being built at 38 Pelican Isle in Fort Lauderdale, knows what high end buyers are looking for,” says Michael F. Rizzo of Coldwell Bankers Previews International.  

“Alberto is most popular with today’s sophisticated buyers who demand quality without sacrificing convenience. His homes are designed to allow the flow from the inside to the outside, with such features as glass doors that open completely and pocket out of the way, high ceilings with sky lights or glass ceilings, thereby keeping the home bright,” Rizzo says. “He also accomplishes this by incorporating more natural textures and combines exotic woods and stone with glass and wide open spaces.”

Must Have Amenities

Today’s sophisticated buyers expect their homes to come equipped with innovative and convenient amenities, such as the “smart house” concept, say Pinecrest-based realtors Hilda Jacobson and Ysha Arteaga of Douglas Elliman

A beautifully designed bar at 5004 N. Bay Road, Miami, a bayfront listing by ONE Sotheby’s.

“This means that most of the important functioning of the home can be controlled anywhere by their smart phones or tablets, and includes everything from monitoring security cameras and alarm to controlling temperature, music, lighting and pool, all with a touch of a button,” Rizzo says. ”Sophisticated buyers want clean lines, indirect lighting and large open spaces. Kitchens are more streamline and open to living areas rather than closed in, allowing owners to better entertain with their guests.”  

Desirable kitchens feature chef-quality design and appliances, brokers and developers say, with gas appliances, wine storage and built in coffee machines. In both single family homes and condos, there are often indoor and outdoor kitchens. In condos, these are situated on oversized balconies to facilitate exceptional outdoor entertaining.  

A dusky shot of the poolside bar at The Ocean Resort Residences at Conrad  Fort Lauderdale Beach, a listing by Cervera Real Estate.

Buyers’ desires have factored heavily in advancing the modern design and enhancement trend locally, as developers more often tailor their projects to meet their specific requests, says Patrick Campbell, Vice President of The Related Group

This was key in the company’s new project, Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, a 171-unit beachfront condominium in Fort Lauderdale that it is developing in partnership with Fortune International Group and The Fairwinds Group. Situated on the sand, Auberge’s 4.6-acre site is the former home of Ireland’s Inn Beach Resort. Prices start at $1.8 million at the property, which is due for completion in October 2017. Its spa, restaurant and resort amenities will be overseen by Auberge Resorts Collection, a luxury hotel operator acclaimed for its resorts that embrace intimate, understated elegance. 

Located along the MIddle RIver, Fort Lauderdale, overlooking George English Park, Riva offers both city and waterfront views.

This understated elegance is at the heart of the modern style that is becoming a hallmark of design in South Florida, say Will Meyer and Gray Davis, of Meyer Davis, an award-winning New York-based interior design firm whose portfolio includes 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach, W Hotel Mexico City and Capri Hotel Southampton.  The team is designing Auberge’s interior public spaces to reflect a relaxed, yet elegant, beach-chic vibe using rich, natural materials – making the most of natural light and stunning views.

Rooms with more than a view

Views are also the jewel in the modern design crown at The Ocean Resort Residences on Fort Lauderdale Beach – and the property offers the ultimate way to enjoy them. Residences in the 300 unit, waterfront condo start at $400,000 and offer membership in the only private beach club on the beach.

A rendering of 1200 The Ocean, Hillsboro Mile, as designed by renowned South Florida architect, Richard Jones.

But the benefits for modern waterfront property buyers don’t stop there, says Andreas Ioannou, CEO of Orchestra Resorts + Hotels, which is developing the community. 

“Today’s luxury condo buyers want amenities that are as sophisticated as they are lavish, raising the standard of modern luxury living. These must go above and beyond expectations, with the latest technology, superior personal services, and on-site gourmet dining options,” he adds. “When we designed our amenities, we specifically had the South Florida luxury condo buyer in mind, which is why we are offering residents exclusive beach services, oceanfront and beachside upscale dining, WiFi on the beach, and Fort Lauderdale’s first private beach club, Sky Beach, in addition to our unparalleled selection of personalized amenities and services.”

Also recognizing that being waterfront is a lifestyle, Premier Developers created storage for paddleboards and kayaks in their new community, Riva. Residences in the 100-unit condominium being built on the Middle River overlooking Fort Lauderdale’s George English Park start at $650,000 for city views and $1.1 million for waterfront views.

The tranquil, oceanside pool of PARAMOUNT Fort Lauderdale

Modern design and top quality oceanfront amenities are the hallmarks of  1200 The Ocean on Hillsboro Mile. The 18 architecturally distinctive condominium homes and penthouse residences, designed by renowned South Florida architect Richard Jones, are priced from $895,000 to more than $2.35 million for oceanfront residences. Each unit features a sleek, contemporary designwith clean lines and casual sophistication, which highlights the one-of-a-kind oceanfront setting.

 With six open floorplans, 1200 The Ocean features three bedrooms, two-and-one-half baths and up to nearly 3,000 square feet of living space and terraces. Each residence offers private or semi-private elevator access, volume ceilings, lavish baths, gourmet kitchens, expansive terraces, high-impact glass doors and windows and smart technology.  Amenities include an oceanfront pool, gated entry to a private beach, under-building parking and a private Intracoastal Waterway day dock just steps away. 

Riva is symbolic of a major transformation under way in the Victoria Park and Galleria areas of Fort Lauderdale – turning under-utilized but attractive property into communities with fresh appeal with modern design.

Continuum (bottom), Miami, a listing by Douglas Elliman, has a stylish kitchen that emphasizes open space as it looks out both on the ocean and intercoastal waters.

“We have found places that nobody saw as a place for luxury living before us,” Bradley Deckelbaum of Premier Developers, which also created Renaissance on Hollywood Beach and Venezia in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Whether the more modern take on how to live in South Florida will define the region’s landscape of the future is uncertain. But most in the local real estate industry agree that modern style isn’t going away anytime soon.

“We saw many modern design elements become popular throughout the ‘80s and 90’s, but they didn’t last,” says Dan Kodsi, developer of PARAMOUNT Fort Lauderdale Beach, where units in the cutting edge beachfront building start at $1.2 million. “But this time, I think modern is here to stay.”


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