Architect Jeanne Gang, known for turning structures inside out with her unique exo-spatial high-rise design technique, is back on the block with recently unveiled designs for a stunning 14-story residential tower in Miami’s Design District. The tower, reportedly called Sweetbird South Residences, promises panoramic views of Biscayne Bay from each of the building’s proposed 76 units.
Gang and her firm Studio Gang Architects, famous for designing Chicago skyscraper-optical illusion Aqua Tower (the nation’s tallest structure designed by a woman) is equally ambitious with this 160,000-square-foot tower in Miami’s Buena Vista neighborhood—slated for completion in 2016.
Recently released renderings show Sweetbird South as a residential building anchored by two stories of ground floor retail space, a resident lounge and a rooftop swimming pool. The tower is obvious on form and subtle on function. Like Aqua Tower, the building appears to be rippling or trembling but definitely not falling (we think). Each residence features floor-to-ceiling windows and oblique-angled terraces that form seemingly implausible quadrilateral shapes–trapezoids, parallelograms and rhombuses. Jeanne Gang must have aced geometry as a student.
While most people can’t discern between a trapezoid and a rhombus, Studio Gang transforms buildings into intriguing geometrical experiments—as if the firm is attempting to solve complex mathematical theorems on the façade of skyscrapers. The Sweetbird South building is begging to be deciphered but perhaps only Euclid or our college math professor could break its code.
The tower’s interior extends outside to the façade, producing a dynamic spatial (or exo-spatial) arrangement of habitable spaces that function as a contemporary “Florida room.” According to the firm, “these shaded, open-air rooms provide both a thermal buffer for the interior and an outdoor space for relaxing and entertaining.” See, we told you—subtle on function (and there are even plans to integrate solar shade and rainwater collection into the design). What better location to bring indoors outside than in Miami overlooking Biscayne Bay?
The Sweetbird South tower feels like the southeast companion to Studio Gang’s 15-story design called City Hyde Park in Chicago. There’s something distinctly Flat Iron about this Miami building (the way it dominates its short block in seemingly triangular fashion), except it’s bright white, modern and offers better views. Is it like an Antoni Gaudí structure in Barcelona? Not quite, but it’s absolutely a head scratcher and eyeball burner—in a good way. Studio Gang’s Miami tower is a residential building disguised as an optical illusion—or is that vice versa? Perhaps we can describe it better this way—it’s a rhetorical question mark that doesn’t need to answer to anyone. It is what it is.