Miami is a melting pot of the diverse architectural styles it has adopted through the years. The beautiful city proudly displays Spanish Colonial and Mediterranean-style villas, palatial estates for the East Coast’s elite, as well as modern homes adapted for Miami’s sunny, sometimes sweltering, setting. In fact, an entire offshoot of Modernist architecture originates in Miami; MiMo is defined by the addition of extravagance and glamour to otherwise restrained and minimalist Modern builds—a very Miami approach indeed. Here are the architects who are pushing the envelope and defining and re-defining the Miami residential scene.
This list includes both licensed architects and residential designers who are capable of designing stunning homes and have an impressive list of projects in and around Miami. The team took into consideration each architect and firm’s specialties, industry awards, affiliations, years in business, and the number of projects in the city. Each firm on this list is guaranteed to match your project needs and complexity.
Berenblum Busch Architects (B+BA)
Berenblum Busch Architects is a Miami-based global architecture, planning, and interior design firm founded in 2010. The firm is guided by industry leaders Gustavo Berenblum and Claudia Busch. Both professionals offer a collaborative design concept shaped by the different values, cultures, and identities of each client. The B+BA team is driven to build spaces that encourage people to collaborate, live better, and work smarter. One of its latest additions to its plethora of design services is the redesign for Covid-19: the process allows the firm to update and restructure the current set-up of offices, schools, and transportation. The firm’s impressive list of projects has earned the recognition of industry associations like the AIA, World Architecture News, Build Magazine, Society of American Registered Architects, Miami Herald, and more.
B+BA designed SoFi house, a project which includes three 2,600-square-foot homes and one 2,450-square-foot townhouse. The design incorporates a relic from the 1920s–a bungalow that has been historically preserved. Each residence has its own rooftop garden and terrace with a pool. In 2016, B+BA took on a $7 million project on Hibiscus Island. The two-story 7,100-square-foot home has its own lobby. The 26-foot space includes an atrium and takes in natural light via both skylights and traditional windows. The design also incorporates sustainability and energy efficiency, embodying the firm’s belief that energy efficiency and high-end architectural design go hand-in-hand.
Artist and University of Miami professor Jacob Brillhart is the driving force behind Brillhart Architecture’s success in multiple disciplines. Brillhart completed a Masters in Architecture from Columbia University and was a 2006 and 2007 Gabriel Prize finalist, as well as a 2010 Rome Prize in Architecture finalist. The firm has garnered international acclaim for its residential, commercial, design-build, artistic, and theoretical research endeavors. Known for work that showcases a deep connection to surrounding landscapes, the firm has been featured multiple times in ArchDaily, Architectural Digest, Dwell Magazine, Label Magazine, Ocean Home, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and is a local and international AIA award winner. Among its recent features is for a Netflix series called, “The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes”.
Miami Beach Residential Tower combines two levels of retail, including a restaurant, with its residential floors. The building’s distinctive large windows stand in place of balconies. The divide between retail and residential is marked by the wood-wrapped exterior of the structure’s second-floor — a unique way to make a visible distinction between sections of a mixed-use building. The project is still in the design stage.
Another project is the Bonita Residence, a 3,800 square-foot modernistic house in coconut Grove. The steel-and-glass structure is raised, existing two feet off the ground, supported by three elevated stem walls—a design that could easily present challenges in construction. The home is protected from sunlight by a 15-foot front and back roof overhangs.
Choeff Levy Fischman Architecture + Design
Choeff Levy Fischman Architecture + Design is an award-winning Miami-based firm specializing in designing high-end luxury residential homes, multi-family homes, and hotels. The firm is led by principals, Ralph Choeff, Raphael Levy, and Paul Fischman who have grown the firm’s clientele to include global entrepreneurs, NFL players, MLB players, and Hollywood celebrities. In its designs, the medium-sized firm channels the Tropical Modern style of architecture, which lives in harmony with the surrounding Floridian environment.
Cheoff Levy Fischman is the firm behind New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez’s house in Coral Gables. The 11,000-square-foot home, built on a one-and-a-half acre parcel of land, is designed in the style of Mid Century Modern. Rodriguez told Architectural Digest, which published a feature story on the home, that he wanted a peaceful place where he could relax with his daughters. The firm also brought a touch of Tropical Modernism to Miami Beach through Casa Ishia, a two-story waterfront residence on Hibiscus Island. A thin line separates the home’s interior from its exterior. The home’s interior features Ipe wood and South American Stone. Outside, the firm used water to integrate the structure with its environment: a reflecting pond marks the front entrance; an infinity-edged pool overlooks the bay in the back.
Debowsky Design Group
Featured Architects: Stuart Debowsky, Eric Swakon, Marina Dias, Marina Dias,
Address: 4384 SW 13th Street Miami FL 33134
Stuart Debowsky founded the sustainability-minded Debowsky Design Group in 2009, with the goal of creating environmentally sensible structures in the Floridian environment. Mr. Debowsky, who is LEED-accredited and NCARB-certified, studied architecture at the University of Miami, and construction management at Florida International University. The Debowsky Design Group team consists of a handful of players, including Eric Swakon, Director of Architecture, Marina Dias, Director of Design, Chris Sahs, Director of Client Delivery, and Annie Goldman, Interior Design Associate.
Though the Debowsky Design Group does start projects from scratch, the group also adds finishing touches to homes. They’ll add a pavilion with a full outdoor kitchen for entertaining, or design an outdoor landscape with a pool, fountain, living area, dining area. At one home in the Village of Pinecrest, FL, the firm turned a backyard into an outdoor entertainment space. The firm gave a similar treatment to a home in Coral Gables, transforming the backyard into a space suitable for entertaining guests.
Featured Architects: Joaquín Fernández
Address: 25 SE 2nd Ave #712 Miami FL 33131
Barcelona native, and AIA and LEED-certified architect, Joaquin Fernandez began his career in Barcelona in 2003, an auspicious city for a budding designer. He was La Llotja, Barcelona art’s university, and was also involved with the Court of Barcelona as an expert architect doing construction and violation reports. His most important court experience is the locally well-publicized case in Reus, Catalonia, where the most important developer in the area was cited for possible violation against a nearby old construction town. He set up the Miami-based Fernandez Architecture firm in May 2017, with NCARB Certification. He currently offers design services in large-scale residential and mixed-use as well as small-case residential and commercial in both Florida and Barcelona. The firm’s Floridian work is trademarked by his geometric style: open spaces, sharp corners, flat roofs, and numerous rectangular frames and windows.
Fernandez Architecture designed a private Fort Lauderdale home in the sophisticated minimalist aesthetic, with mixed shades of brown and grey, characteristic of Fernandez’s work. In designing this home, the firm took into account sustainability, environmental conditions, and entertainment potential. A water installation marks the back of the property, which features concrete finishings and wood.
KZ Architect founder, Jaya Kader, AIA LEED AP, is a San Jose, Costa Rica born and raised architect. Her wealth of experience includes under the tutelage of world-renowned mentors, including Robert A.M. Stern, Moshe Safdie, and Graham Gund. Throughout her career, Kader has designed countless projects including public libraries, municipal centers, religious institutions, and luxury resorts. Since KZ Architecture’s inception in 2003, the firm has been committed to creating designs in line with sustainable practices. In the last five years, the firm has been featured in publications like The Modern Residence, Luxe Interiors + Design, Florida/Caribbean Architect, Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida, Florida Design, and Ocean Drive Magazine to name a few. In addition, the firm was also honored with numerous AIA awards, World Architecture News House of the Week, and The Wall Street Journal House of the Week.
One of Kader’s recent projects is the Center Island home in Golden Beach. The single-family residence was designed for an Argentinian family. The team listened to the client’s vision of a modern tropical home and a ”parilla” or an Argentinian bar-b-q grill that will act as the heart of the house. The home strives to connect the indoor spaces with the landscape through covered terraces, balconies, trellises, and water features that weave in and out of the home.
The Woodcrest home is another single-family home designed by the KZ Architecture team. It is a 4,910-square-foot single-family residence on a 10,446-square-foot plot in Key Biscayne. The geometric structure, completed in 2015, highlights the line: large rectangular panels, nearly the height of the house itself, hang vertically. The silver-toned panels are patterned; interlaced lines create a busy network of bars that looks like a piece of abstract art.
SDH_STUDIO Architecture + Design was founded by Stephanie Halfen in 2012. Halfen—born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela—received her Architecture degree from Universidad Simon Bolivar. Later she graduated with high honors from Parsons School of Design in New York. After building her portfolio and career in Venezuela, Halfen moved to Miami in 2009. Her career in architecture started in college when she was commissioned to work on her first residential project in El Avila National Park. Today, she leads her team in “creating spaces that inspire.” SDH’s designs are focused on individuality and forward-thinking designs that enhance people’s lives. The firm’s work has been featured in a myriad of publications, including Tropic magazine, Luxe Interiors + Design, Ocean Home, OD Casas, Miami Home & Decor, and more.
Publications like Florida Design’s Miami Home & Decor and Luxe Interiors + Design have all featured SDH_STUDIO’s stunning work. One of these projects is the Lake View home located in Miami overlooking Sky Lake. The home is designed to promote the seamless transition of its indoor onto its outdoor setting. Angled shaped volumes frame breathtaking views while providing the home with accessible and functional spaces. Another featured project in its portfolio is a phenomenal design in collaboration with its clients.
The modern sleek home is custom-designed for a young family in Golden Beach. Stephanie Halfen partnered with architect Lucas D’Adamo Baumann from Argentina to complete this project. The home is designed to provide a contemporary living for a growing family of five. The 5,000-square-foot home is filled with texture and light and promotes lots of family time with its living area, dining area, and outdoor area connected by an open floor layout.
Sebastian Eilert Architecture
Sebastian Eilert Architecture’s holistic approach is focused on understanding the different design and architecture techniques while incorporating quality, durability, and sustainability in its work whenever possible. Founder Sebastian Eilert is a LEED-accredited architect, interior designer, and building inspector in Florida who grew up in Hamburg, Germany, and came to the United States in 1996, where he studied architecture and business law at the University of Miami. He has been a practicing Miami architect since 1998. Under his leadership, the firm has received numerous distinctions from industry affiliations and press publications. Some of these recognitions include the AIA Miami award for Historic Preservation in 2005, and the 2011 and 2009 Sustainable Design Architect of the Year.
Sebastian Eilert Architecture left a remarkable legacy on the renovation of the Durable modern home in Coconut Grove. The Sherman Residence was originally built in the 1960s, nestled in the Moorings community. SEA’s renovation focused on bringing light into space while imposing clearer boundaries between its indoor and outdoor space. The firm’s design also incorporated sustainable aspects such as LED lighting, non-toxic cabinetry and finishes, a terrazzo floor, and updated energy efficiency for the entire building envelope. The Sfez residence, another project completed by the firm in 2015 named GaiaMa, in Biscayne Park. The single-story 1,500-square-foot home is LEED Platinum, boasting a HERS rating of -4. Residents never have to worry about the weather affecting indoor temperatures: the house is made of ICD walls, and the roof features an insul-deck system.
With two offices in Florida, one in Colorado, and a fourth on its way to Sarasota, the Miami-based architecture firm STRANG is creating modern designs for clients all over the country. Headed by founder Max Strang and Principal and Vice President Jason Adams, the firm has designed single-family residences, condominiums, boutique hotels, and mixed-use residential communities. The firm’s impressive list of works have received numerous recognitions from the AIA, DCOTA, and multiple features on the Architectural Digest, Ocean Drive, Ocean Home Magazine, Florida International Magazine, Metropolis, Home Miami, Orlando Design, and Axxis Magazine to name a few. Max Strang was also the two-time winner of AIA’s Young Architect of the Year and his firm won AIA Miami Firm of the Year in 2010.
STRANG Architecture’s most recent piece of work is the Miami Beach Residence completed in 2019. The beach house located in South Florida is designed to highlight natural materials and a seamless transition from its interior to the home’s views of the waterfront. The Tropic Magazine featured the work and mentioned that STRANG’s work keeps everyone on the look for its latest contribution to the Floridian version of Modernism. Another well-acclaimed work of the firm is the Rock House, which elevated the firm to the status of bonafide Miami architectural player.
You might recognize the Coconut Grove residence from its role in the film adaptation of the television series Miami Vice. It also earned the firm an AIA Miami Design Award in 2004, an AIA Florida Merit Award of Excellence in 2005, and a slew of national media coverage throughout the early 2000s.
Swedroe Architecture, formerly known as Robert M. Swedroe Architects & Planners, has been designing multi-family residences since its inception in 1974. Its name may have changed, yet its quality of service remains exemplary. Founder Robert Swedroe has been practicing architecture in Miami since 1960 and has built a strong reputation over five decades of priceless work. He is joined by Michael Agnoli, Dominick Tubito, Joseph Swedroe, and a handful of talented professionals who continue to put the firm on a high pedestal in the local construction scene. Swedroe Architecture’s residential designs have been featured in The Washington Post, Robb Report Home & Style, and Haute Living. The firm has also partnered with major players, including The Trump Group and Coscan.
If Swedroe is known, for one thing, it’s being an innovator. Way back in 1988, the firm designed Bal Harbour Tower, which today is Florida’s first major direct-entry elevator building. The idea of a private entry elevator was, at the time, new to those building condominiums in South Florida. Tower residences also featured the then-novel “through view” phenomenon. Residents could view both sunrise and sunset from their apartments. In this way, the architect took full advantage of Bal Habour’s beachside views.
One of Swedroe’s newest works is the Omega Luxury Condominium in Southwest Florida. The high-rise multi-family building has a total of 67 units, with an average unit size of 4,700-square-foot each. All units are designed with an open floor layout and unobstructed views of the Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.