While Miami’s unique skyscrapers dominate the mental image of the city, the homes of the city are just as varied in style. Miami’s architects are versed in eclectic styles, and the influence of Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and the homegrown Miami Modern (MiMo) can be seen in many of its homes. Whether a design asks for traditional or modern, one word can sum up the best homes in the region: luxury. The following list ranks the top 10 best design-build firms in Miami, which take a client from nothing more than a blueprint for a new custom home. They represent the best that Miami has to offer, not only creating quality work but also exemplifying the city’s steadfastness in the face of natural disaster and in the diversity of its people.
9. James Cross, Inc.
Featured Principals: James L. Cross
Address: 8775 SW 133rd Street, Miami, FL 33176
This firm’s namesake is President James L. Cross, a third-generation builder who learned the trade from his father and grandfather. Cross was educated in Environmental Engineering and Business Administration and has led the firm to become one of the foremost custom home builders in the metro region since its founding in 1989. His team’s work ranges from design-build projects to historical renovations and construction consultation. With the use of the most up-to-date technology, Cross’ designs are also Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. The firm’s website includes a testimonials page with glowing reviews of both the process of working with the president and of the finished products. The typical Cross project ranges from anywhere between $300k and $5M. The team services various areas of the Miami metro region, including Miami Beach, Coral Gables, and Palmetto Bay.
The Cross team’s design-build project in Miami Beach is a characteristic example of Miami’s unique style. The two-story home is bisected by a glass wall corridor that includes a living roo and a mezzanine on the second floor in its open space. The design itself is bright and modern, with the sharp lines of the balconies and the roof fixtures complementing the gently curving walls. The home is also LEED certified. Cross’ Coconut Grove home in South Miami follows the brightness and modern touch of the Miami Beach property but is influenced by the Bahamian style. Wide, open spaces mark this property, which includes a covered sitting area in the backyard. Located in Pinecrest is the third of their design-build homes on this list. Contrasted to the previous two offerings, this traditional, one-story ranch home is more utilitarian in its approach and seems to be suited for a family.
8. D’Asign Source
Featured Principals: Franco, Tony, Amedeo, Franco Jr., and Nicholas D’Ascanio
Address: 11500 Overseas Highway, Marathon, FL 33050
D’Asign Source is a family-owned business that started out as a tile company 57 years ago, before expanding into construction in 1977. Since then, D’Asign has completed construction totaling over 1M square feet throughout 1,500 major projects. While the firm is located in the Keys, commissions have taken them all over the greater metro region, thanks to their reputation. Their president is Franco D’Ascanio, whose interest in plants and landscaping as well as audio/visual mediums has provided inspiration for the firm’s work. The team of D’Asign is populated with more D’Ascanio family members. Tony, Amedeo, Franco Jr., and Nicholas D’Ascanio act as chief executive officer, vice president, vice president of construction, and landscape architect, respectively. Besides offering design-build services for their clients, the firm also takes on interior design, landscape architecture, and remodeling projects. D’Asign has been awarded by Qualified Remodeler Magazine and local publications for their designs.
Land’s End was a $2M project completed by D’Asign in 2015. D’Ascanio and team took the owner’s desire to incorporate the colors and creatures of the ocean into the design, and they accomplished that and then some. The two-story home includes a gourmet kitchen, a living room, a saltwater pond, master bedrooms, and a deck that faces the ocean. As the firm does not shy away from luxury, even the “dream closet” is outfitted with a chandelier. The massive property overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, featuring two pools: an infinity edge pool and the larger pool it flows into. The tropical plants that flank the home were placed there by D’Asign’s landscape architecture team. The Sugarloaf Plantation was completed by the team three years prior, and also racked up a price tag of $2M. The team’s goal this time was to capture the look and feel of Old World Caribbean, which was accomplished with the use of Plantation-style architecture. The attractive face of the home, painted in a warm yellow, welcomes its owners into the interior, which features a heavy use of dark hardwood. The pool in the backyard incorporates plenty of stone and foliage in its design to further call back to the theme.
7. Shear Construction & Management, LLC
Featured Principals: Gary and Dana Shear
Address: 6817 SW 81 Terrace, Miami, FL, 33143
Gary and Dana Shear are the husband-and-wife team behind this firm. For the past 30 years, their team has constructed high-end luxury homes for clients in the Miami area, from Hialeah to Homestead. The company takes on projects that range from waterfront homes and townhouses to condominiums and business remodels. Their services include design-build, construction management, and renovation. Shear Construction is a trusted company in southern Florida; most of the company’s business comes from referrals and repeat clients. A Shear property can cost anywhere between $2M to $20M, and they have been featured in publications such as Florida Architecture, Florida Design, and Miami Home & Decor. Thanks to the quality of the team’s craftsmanship, Shear Constructions has also been awarded by the Builders Association of South Florida.
The Shears are lifetime residents of Miami, and their contributions to the city’s landscape exude glamour and wealth. The firm’s custom homes have graced some of Miami’s most prestigious neighborhoods, including Star Island and Tahiti Beach Island. The Star Island home sits on the waterfront, surrounded by the bay on two sides and palm trees on land. The sprawling property could double as an island resort if it wanted to, including both a pool and its own parking area. The building, constructed in the Mediterranean style, is two stories tall. The expansive lawn leads to a dock behind the home. The Grand Traditional home stands in Tahiti Beach Island, acting as the Colonial counterpart to the Star Island Home’s tropical influences. The stately estate splits off into two wings and features a round entryway in the middle. This section of the home opens out to a pool flanked by palm trees.
6. One Design Build, LLC
Featured Principals: Hugo Mijares and Jose Ramos
Address: 5582 NE 4th Court, Suite 7A, Miami, FL 33137
One D+B is a Miami-based design-build firm led by Hugo Mijares and Jose Ramos, made unique by its exclusivity. The firm only develops 10 projects per year to ensure quality and maintain personal involvement on each project. One D+B’s work was featured in Luxury Interiors, Tropic, and Miami Home & Decor. Mijares, an associate member of the AIA, founded the studio in 2007. He was educated at the University of South Florida as well as Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. His resume includes working with top Miami architectural firm Oppenheim Architecture + Design. Ramos, the firm’s principal, has three decades of architectural experience and is a certified member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The entire team has earned a 2015 Fort Lauderdale Design Award.
One D+B’s Oak Tree House is a standout example of the MiMo style, with its sleek lines and glamorous views. What makes the home unique is how it was designed around a large oak tree that acts as the centerpiece of the main living area. Able to be seen from every major room in the house, the tree creates a sense of unity not only within the home, but also with the property’s surroundings. One D+B built outward from there, creating a design that emphasized air, shade, and a sense of flow between rooms. Next is the firm’s Coconut Grove Residence, which demonstrates its green sensibility with locally sourced materials. One D+B proves their knowledge of the area by elevating the base of the home to accommodate hurricanes and rising sea levels. The pillars that support the home act as its roots, as it seems to grow into the sky.
5. Brodson Construction, Inc.
Featured Principals: Stanley and Barry Brodsky
Address: 120 NE 28th Street, Suite 100, Miami, FL 33137
Brodson Construction was founded in 1989 by father-and-son team Stanley and Barry Brodsky. While it started out as a family venture, the firm has grown enough that its work can be found on a national scale. The Brodson Construction team has helped clients from concept to completion in some of Miami’s most prestigious neighborhoods, including the Venetian Island, the Sunset Islands, Key Biscayne, and Coral Gables. Brodsky and team has built homes with their superior craftsmanship for a number of high-profile clients looking for luxury homes. The firm’s work also extends to the renovation of historically significant residences. Brodson Construction homes have been features in Ocean Drive, Florida Design, Vanity Fair, Miami Home & Decor, and the Miami Herald over the years, with no sign of stopping. One of their current projects has them partnered with two international firms: Brazilian MK27 and SAOTA.
Adding to Miami’s varied residential landscape is Brodson Construction’s home on 630 Sunset Drive in Coral Gables. It is an example of the firm’s approach to traditional style. The single-family home was designed in a Colonial style that was influenced by the cottages of rural France, calling back to the region’s ties to the West Indies. The house has four bedrooms plus a maid’s quarter. The owners enjoy a formal dining room and a library with ceiling-height bookshelves. In Miami Beach, the 1374 South Venetian Way home provides enjoyable views of downtown. Taking cues from more modern constructions, Brodsky and team paved the home with exotic marbles and stone tiles, finishing with rich wood and great glass windows. Its owners inside are able to gaze out at the garden and pool outside.
4. SDH Studio
Featured Principals: Stephanie Halfen, AIA
Address: 18200 NE 19th Avenue, Suite 101, North Miami Beach, FL 33162
The women-led team of SDH Studio places an emphasis on light, form, and function in their luxury home designs, and their dedication to their ideals has landed their work in the pages of Venice, Florida Design, JW, OD Casas, Miami Home & Decor, Ocean Drive, Tropic, and Luxe. One of SDH Studio’s design goals is to find innovative ways to integrate the indoors with the outdoors, which is apparent in their featured projects. Caracas-born Stephanie Halfen, AIA, is the principal and lead designer of SDH Studios. She received her architecture degree from Universidad Simon Bolivar, graduating summa cum laude. Halfen then went on to gain her interior design degree from the Parsons School of Design in New York. She founded SDH in 2009. Rounding out the team’s leadership are Cristina Magdaleno and Louis Fuentes, both project leaders. The two come from Venezuela and Cuba, respectively, and were accomplished architects in their own right before joining SDH Studio.
Featuring a white stucco and glass facade, 475 Center Island can be found in Golden Beach, overlooking a canal. Halfen’s design is thoroughly modern, standing amongst the area’s palm trees and bamboo groves. The finished home features six bedrooms, but in designing the home for an outdoorsy Venezuelan couple, Halfen aimed for bringing nature in. Ten-foot tall, sliding glass doors open onto terraces, and glass railings line the extra-deep balconies. The entertaining area sits out back, leading out to the pool and shaded by an ipe wood-clad overhang. 475 Center Island was featured in Luxe. 96 Golden Beach is located in the same zip code, but SDH Studio’s design leaned more towards Zen and minimalist for this home. It was built for a family with three children and features a 27-foot high space which acts as the home’s centerpiece. The home’s tall windows in this area really open up the home and let the light and green in.
3. MV Group USA
Featured Principals: Manny Angelo Varas
Address: 1200 Brickell Avenue, Suite 600, Miami, FL 33131
MV Group’s list of clients include both rapper Lil’ Wayne and director Michael Bay, but outside of those pop culture names are Fortune 500 investors, real estate developers, international entertainment and sports stars, and heads of countries. The full-service architectural firm is led by President and CEO Manny Angelo Varas, who has the distinction of being one of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the United States, as well as the owner of one of the fastest growing Hispanic businesses in the country. To date, MV Group has completed developments totalling to 900k square feet of construction and $300M in value. Varas is a graduate of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design and is LEED accredited by the US Green Building Council. He served on the Presidential Business commission through former President George W. Bush. The firm has been featured in both the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.
MV Group was commissioned to design and build a custom home in a gated community on Miami’s Hibiscus Island. The residence is 7,000 square feet of modern design, featuring a stone facade that opens up toward the driveway. A select opening in the roof allows for light to filter naturally down into the space and creates a dynamic asymmetry to the home. The rear of the home features a pergola-style overhang looking down onto the open pool and an entertainment area. Two balconies flank the overhang and recall the asymmetry of the face of the home. One hangs over an enclosed room, and the other does not. Another MV Group project can be found in the coastal community of Pinetree Drive, one of the most sought-after addresses in Miami. The estate features Miami’s unfailing combination of white lines accented by dark wood, and features a pier that juts out into the water. The home itself seems to spring out from the flora, semi-hidden in the palm trees.
2. Z.W. Jarosz Architect, P.A.
Featured Principals: Zbigniew “Zeb” Jarosz
Address: 3326 Mary Street, 5th Floor, Miami, FL 33133
Zbigniew “Zeb” Jarosz is the second on this list to construct homes for celebrities, having built homes for the likes of actor Matt Damon and athlete Michael Jordan. Working with a team of 30 employees, Jarosz’s projects have gained a reputation for high-quality design and construction that are finished timely and within budget. That level of quality has earned the firm several awards from both the AIA and the Florida Builders Association. Jarosz and his team have also been featured in Architectural Digest, Florida Architecture, the Miami Herald, Luxe, and Dream Homes South Florida. The principal himself was born in Poland and raised in a family with merchant marine captains, architects, and builders. While his career has taken a trajectory away from the sea, he would later become a US Coast Guard licensed captain. Jarosz received his education at the Krakow University of Technology, and he went on to work throughout Europe before arriving in Miami.
The Indian Creek Village overlooking Biscayne Bay brings a unique look to the Miami luxury home landscape. While the overall style is in the characteristic Mediterranean, arched entryways and arched windows are more reminiscent of the island community’s Asian namesake. The home was built for an artsy New York couple affiliated with the arts, so the home was designed with sophistication in mind. Natural beige, blue, and green tones were chosen to complement the owners’ art collection. Meanwhile, standing in Miami Bay is a 15,000-square-foot mansion designed and constructed for a couple of baby boomers. The structure is much more in line with Miami’s Mediterranean Revival style, made out of stucco, keystone, and cypress. The color direction of this home is more monochromatic, evoking a more monastic atmosphere. Jarosz played with space, going from intimate spaces to open ones. A vaulted hallway leads to a cypress-paneled library. A low door under the soaring staircase leads to a snug breakfast room.
1. Bart Reines Luxury Homebuilder
Featured Principals: Bart Reines
Address: 1800 Sunset Harbour Drive, Marina Ste P, Miami Beach, FL, 33139
Bart Reines’ extravagant luxury homes have been featured in Miami Magazine, the South Florida Business Journal, the Wall Street Journal, Curbed, Ocean Drive, Luxe, Elle Decor, Florida Design, the Miami Herald, and the Real Deal. To the design-build industry of Miami, Bart Reines is a name that is synonymous with the South Florida scene. The team of Bart Reines Luxury Homebuilder has worked on homes in Miami and across the world, producing iconic, artistic homes over the last 20 years and generating an estimated annual revenue of $660M. The firm leverages technology in their designs, from alarms and cameras to home security, while advocating for green design at the same time. Clients also enjoy a secondary benefit to owning a Bart Reines home: record resale prices. Reines’ process ensures his personal involvement in the project, overseeing every stage of design. Clients are regarded as teammates in the project and can be involved in each step.
The North Bay Road home in Miami Beach was sold for $20M. Reines takes Miami’s modern style to the next level at this 12k-square-foot property, which features seven bedrooms, eight full bathrooms, a grand master suite, an elevator, a media room, and a chef’s kitchen. The residence is a smart home, powered by a whole-house generator, protected on all sides by sheer glass walls that blend indoor and outdoor living. Following this design choice, there is also a terrace on the rooftop and a kitchen in the gazebo. Outside, its owners can enjoy 2,000 square feet of outdoor living space and 100 feet of waterfront. The boat dock can accommodate an 80-foot boat. The Reines portfolio also includes a Mediterranean-inspired estate that boasts a four-car garage, a separate building, and the hanging bridge that connects the both of them. On one side of this bridge is a tower that spirals down to the ground level.