Thursday, December 2, 2021

Florida Style & Design: Magic Act

Photography by Karen Fuchs

Architect Chad Oppenheim designed this house to complement its Bal Harbour pedigree

A lively intermingling of cultures coupled with an international sophistication—plus that live-and-let-live attitude that eschews conformity to social norms. This is the pulsating vibe of a thriving metropolis named Miami, offset by the exotic calm of a tropical oasis.

Or, there’s a reason they call it “Magic City.”

But how do you harness that magic in an architectural context in one of the city’s most prestigious neighborhoods? When called upon to design this single-family house in Bal Harbour’s most exclusive residential community—a spec home for father-and-son real estate moguls Shlomi and Oren Alexander—architect Chad Oppenheim’s mission was clear: Use architecture to capitalize on the Miami vibe, and optimize it from every conceivable angle.

“Given the parameters of the vacant lot, how do we make the most of it?” says Oppenheim. “That’s where our special sauce comes in.” For him and his team, it’s wasn’t just building on a site with a view—it was constructing a lifestyle.

Above, the simplicity of basic forms and light and shadow lend drama to the dining space; below, the rear elevation shows the architect’s flair for geometry, balance, scale and proportion.

The design started with a nod to entertaining and unwinding. The ground floor was equipped with ample spaces and generous seating for guests. To promote an open, easy flow among spaces, the living and dining areas were connected to interior courtyards through sliding glass panels that vanish into the walls, an effort that maximized stunning, uninterrupted views of the bay.

Two large courtyards achieved seamless indoor/outdoor spaces, while terraces were strategically placed to take advantage of Miami’s balmy climate.

The serenity of reflecting pools flanking the entryway linger past the front door along the pathway through the main hall inside.

The serenity of reflecting pools flanking the entryway lingers past the front door along the pathway through the main hall inside. The home’s landscaped roof deck area features lush landscapes and dazzling views of the bay and neighboring islands. The second floor was organized around a large linear playroom flooded with natural light via four large skylights. Six additional bedrooms, all with landscaped terraces, are on either side. A secluded sanctuary—the master bedroom—is accessed by a private anteroom that spans the width of the house. It has separate master baths—one with a spa and the other, a gym.

“Warm oak and travertine detailing attain a calming palette that references the colors of Miami,” says Oppenheim. Still, this is an urban villa, so concrete, glass and stainless steel also play a significant role. And just as the layout promotes continuity, the consistency of elements, showcased in streamlined floors, walls, staircases and ceilings, maintains that fluid connection.

Above, the master bedroom is a study in calm and texture; below, an upper staircase becomes a sculptural element in the warm and inviting living area.

The winning combination of the clients’ exceptional taste and design sensibilities, amplified by Oppenheim’s mastery of his craft, has led to the construction of a brilliant Miami house.

And yes, it’s magic, indeed.

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