By: Ismael Rodriguez
It’s no secret that Miami hosts an all-star cast of prominent architects, both foreign and local, all competing to outshine the other. Leaving in their wake a city clothed with picturesque towers lined across beachfronts, museums and origami-like parking garages.
From architects with celebrity status like Jacques Herzog to locally based architects like Arquitectonica, their creations are highly valued in a competitive luxury market, providing the sort of high-concept designs that draw wealthy buyers from all corners of the globe.
For developer Edgardo Defortuna, the founder of Fortune International Group, acquiring a property in an area like Sunny Isles, known for its abundance of new deluxe towers, meant signing an international architect, one that comes with lofty fees and a creative impulse known to inflate construction budgets, to give himself an edge on the hyper-competitive market.
The result was the blockbuster acquisition of Jacques Herzog to build Jade Signature, now under construction, making it one of about a dozen other ultra-luxury condos in Miami-Dade that bear the imprint of a celebrated architect. Herzog joins the likes of the late Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture, Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel, all of them winners of a Pritzker Prize, the professions top honor.
Defortuna told the press that his gamble paid off. Jade Signature’s sales have exceeded his immodest target of $1,300 per square foot and, with only 12 units left, are averaging $1,500 per square foot even as the market slows down.
“If you ask me, would I do it again? I would do it again in a second,” Defortuna told the Miami Herald about hiring star-quality architects. “It’s hard to put a dollar value to what they bring. This experience has been very rewarding. I am 100 percent sure people are going to love living there.”
Defortuna is not the only developer going the distance to bring a celebrated architect to build something of substantial quality and recognition in Miami.
In 2018, One Thousand Museum, an exoskeleton tower permitting expansive interiors uninterrupted by columns and broad terraces spanning some 40 feet from the tower’s corners, is expected for completion.
“Hadid didn’t just design a cool building,” Kevin Venger, co-developer of One Thousand Museum, told the press. “This side of the world has never seen a building quite like this.”
Venger and Defortuna paid large sums to bring distinction to their developments, starting with a decorated architect at the helm. But does the architect make an impact on the sales price?
Peter Zalewski, president of Condo Vultures, which compiles the CraneSpotters list told the press that a trend by condo developers to hire renown architects began in 2011, when they needed to entice buyers to put down 50 percent deposits, a tactic designed to avoid speculations of a market collapse.
“The only way you could get someone to put down 50 percent was to offer something distinct and unique, and to try to build up this idea that an arquitect would add value, like a Picasso or a Jackson Pollock,” Zalewski told the press.