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The Best Retail Architects in South Florida

15 Min Read

Despite the adversity brought about by the pandemic, South Florida is going forward with major developments and stable statistics in its retail economy. According to MMG Equity Partners’ 2020 Q2 report, retail leases in South Florida remain robust and resilient. Over 35 businesses in the city have signed and sealed leases for big box and retail outlets. Among these shops are Starbucks, Walgreens, Family Dollar, and Wells Fargo Bank. 

With 2020’s unpredictable flow of events, customers and business owners alike are looking for new ways to cope with this situation. There is no better person to seek ideas from than architects who are knowledgeable in innovative and progressive designs. Take a look at our list of the best architects in South Florida. Each designer was ranked based on a number of criteria in addition to the style and quality of structures they design. These criteria include work history, client satisfaction, and recognition from various award-giving bodies. Whether you want to update your shop or invest in a new business, there’s an architect on this list to help you.

2+ Architects

260 Andalusia Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134 

Edgardo Macchi, AIA, NCARB, and Paola Castaño, AIA are two well-versed architects who established 2+ Architects in 2013. Macchi’s previous works as a project manager honed his expertise in architecture, while Castaño brings over 15 years of diverse industry experience. For the last few years, the firm has steadily grown its clientele and project reach to include institutional and entertainment projects. Proving that its designs meet the highest quality standards, most of the firm’s projects come from repeat clients in the commercial and retail sectors. The firm’s AIA certified and LEED Accredited Professionals ensure projects are created with precision and efficiency.

2+ Architects’ portfolio is home to many award-winning and stunning designs. A notable retail project in its collection is the Voyage store located in Coral Gables.  This shop has quickly become South Florida’s premier destination for luxury travel goods. The owner of the shop asked the firm to create a new brand that would comply with strict mall requirements. The façade is bold and dynamic with a functional, striking entryway that showcases the merchandise within the store. 

BC Architects

75 Valencia Ave. Suite #1000, Coral Gables, FL 33134 

BC Architects specializes in architecture for residential, commercial, hospitality, and mixed-use structures. Vanessa Jimenez is an AIA, CSI, and LEED Accredited Professional who has over 20 years of experience in the production and construction of residential, hospitality, and mixed-use projects. Jimenez manages the firm and leads its team in creating impeccable designs throughout Florida and the Caribbean. BC Architects has appeared in South Florida Reporter, Sun-Sentinel, South Florida Business Journal, Baltimore Sun, and the New York Post.The firm’s high-quality standards have gained the trust of numerous repeat clients in the commercial and hospitality sector. BC Architects has completed many commercial and retail outlets for its client, Turnberry Associates. One of these projects is the Aquamarine located in Miami Beach. The elegant boutique store features a fun and ocean-themed interior filled with vibrant colors. Aquamarine is also a part of the major renovation of the iconic Fontainebleau Resort. Other notable clients the firm has worked with include Coscan, Braman, and Gulf Bay. 

Blitstein Design Associates

285 Sevilla Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134

Blitstein Design Associates has greatly contributed to Florida’s business industry through forward-thinking, eccentric designs. The firm offers clients over 40 years of expertise in architecture and interior design. Founder and owner Peter Blitstein is an established architect registered to work in Florida, Nevada, Virginia, and Texas. He is joined by a skilled team of project managers, architects, and engineers who collaborate on the most diverse and challenging projects. Blitstein Design Associates have worked with a number of distinguished clients including Valentino, Breitling, Fendi, Damiani, and Porsche Design. 

The firm works in a number of market sectors including self-storage, residential, commercial, multi-family, and retail. One of its large-scale retail projects in Florida included the Diamonds Direct jewelry store. Blitstein Design Associates designed an open space that allows people to see everything from all sides of the shop. Glass windows are installed to bring in a lot of natural light. The store features a display collection, a meeting room, and a lounge area for clients. 

Borges + Associates Architects

999 Brickell Ave. Suite #700, Miami, FL 33131 

Borges + Associates Architects is a world-class architectural and consulting firm working in the US and internationally as well. Reinaldo Borges is an established architect, who honed his skills working with Arquitectonica, founded the company in 2000. Borges is an active member of the AIA, USGBC, and NCARB. Beyond its stunning designs lie the firm’s sustainability and climate change initiatives. The firm aims to create designs that reduce energy, potable water use, CO2 emissions, solid waste, and sick time. Its team of LEED Accredited Professionals comes up with concepts that integrate sustainability and green principles into its designs. 

Curbed Miami, Business Wire, Miami Today, and Sun Post have all featured Borges + Associates Architects for its impressive projects from villas to corporate offices and prime hotels in the world. The Brickell Plaza is among the firm’s large-scale retail projects. The plaza features 40,000-square-feet of restaurant and entertainment space. Two levels of the building are meant for commercial use and two other levels for garage parking of up to 115 cars. The development is filled with cafes and bookshops as well as dining areas. 

BRR Architecture

400 Trabert Ave., Atlanta, GA 30309 

Since 1963, BRR Architecture has designed projects for numerous national and international clients in its growing number of locations in the US. BRR Architecture is an award-winning firm whose work encompasses architecture, virtual reality, interior design, and code services among others.  In addition to its awards, the firm has appeared in publications like Architect Magazine, Washington Business Journal, Benzinga, Naples Daily News, Jacksonville Daily Record, and Kansas City Business Journal

One of BRR Architecture’s recent and prime works is the Dolce & Gabbana luxury shop located in Sunrise, FL. The firm faced the challenge of creating a 3,800-square-foot store that reflected the D&G brand and stands out among its competitors in the high-end shopping center of Sawgrass Mills. BRR Architecture’s team worked closely with the client’s Milan team to design a space that would meet the client’s goals. In addition to the clean and sleek line, the team utilized black tones and elegant gold finishes. The store itself needed to highlight Dolce & Gabbana’s clothing line as the main attraction. 

Forbes Architects

1500 Douglas Rd. Suite #200, Coral Gables, FL 33134 

John Forbes founded Forbes Architect in 1985 to provide architecture and interior design for residential and commercial clients. The firm has built its blue-ribbon reputation on creating designs that integrate innovative technologies to provide efficient work. Forbes Architects’ team is composed of licensed, certified, and award-winning architects, interior designers, and engineers. Forbes Architects has appeared on South Florida Business Journal, Miami Herald, and Miami’s Community Newspaper.

Forbes Architects’ portfolio for its commercial sector houses works on everything from healthcare to retail projects. One of its projects is the Merrick Park retail store for Vix Paula Hermanny featuring a sleek, sophisticated interior and glass windows for passersby to view the posh clothes the store offers. Other projects in its retail sector include the Miami Lakes Shopping Center, a Miami Car Dealership, and the Trail Plaza. 


3081 Salzedo St., Coral Gables, FL 33134 

Nelson is an internationally-recognized full-service firm with over 20 office locations in the US alone. The firm’s history started in 1977 as an interior design studio. Over time and numerous projects later, the firm expanded its service to include architecture, sustainable design, design visualization, and brand communications. Today, it is carefully run under the second-generation leader John “Ozzie” Nelson Jr. whose leadership has resulted in Nelson’s tremendous growth. One of the firm’s latest innovations is its COVID-19 design solution response. This new process allows the team to provide clients with real-time solutions that will help the different sectors to respond, adapt, and innovate despite the ongoing pandemic. 

The firm has been named one of 2020’s Top Retail Design Firms from the VMSD, 2019’s Top 150 Architecture Firms, and 2019’s Top 125 Retail Architecture Firms from the Building Design + Construction. In addition to these recognitions, the firm has landed the pages of Forbes Magazine, Retail Dive, Essential Retail, Curbed, Fortune, and Archinect among others. Projects like the Filson retail shop continue to bring the firm success. The shop serves as a premier destination for outdoor adventure apparel. Other retail projects include stores for Levi’s, Covergirl, Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Yankee Candle, Sephora, and Chico’s.

JPRA Architects

39300 W Twelve Mile Rd. Suite #180, Farmington Hills, MI 48331 

JPRA Architects is a nationally recognized architectural firm working throughout eleven states including Canada and Puerto Rico. In 1978, William Beitz, an AIA member, founded the firm. His expertise and industry license allows him to practice architecture in 25 American states as well as the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Alberta. The firm’s forward-thinking and impeccable designs have led to the firm being featured a number of times in publications like Architect Magazine, Forbes Magazine, Architecture & Design, Retail Insight Network, Curbed Philly, and Building Design + Construction.  

A noteworthy project in its portfolio is the Gardens Mall expansion and renovation located in Palm Beach Gardens for The Forbes Company. The mall was an original design by the firm completed in 1985: many years later, the company sought the firm’s expertise in renovating and giving the mall a fresh, modern look. The award-winning renovation touched upon the exterior of the mall, bringing a unique touch of fine art to the upscale shopping destination. The Gardens Mall was awarded an ICSC International Design & Development Awards for Best Regional Shopping Center over 500,000-square-feet. 

Modis Architects

4955 SW 75th Ave., Miami, FL 33155 

In 2008, Modis Architects was co-founded by Ivo Fernandez Jr. and Robert Morisette; together they have a combined industry experience of over 40 years.  Fernandez, a LEED Accredited Professional, is active in overseeing the project’s phases from zoning analysis to construction. Morisette is an AIA, NCARB member, and LEED Accredited Professional who efficiently applies his architecture experience to each client project to develop excellent results within budget and on time. Joining the two leaders are Modis Architects’s team of goal-oriented, skilled architects and designers who love translating visions into blueprints. 

The firm specializes in architecture, interior design, and urban design for civic, hospitality, mixed-use, multi-family, corporate, retail, and residential structures. One of its retail projects is the Tower Shops in Davie. The two-phase project was completed in 2013. The first phase of the project concluded a $2.9M facade renovation of the existing 420,000-square-foot shopping center.  Modis Architects’ work and the team have appeared in
Miami Today, South Florida Business Journal, and Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Rene Gonzalez Architects

875 NW 3rd St., Miami, FL 33128 

Rene Gonzalez Architects started creating designs that link cultural and natural environments with their built physical footprint. Its designs are detailed-oriented and contemporary, reflecting Gonzalez’s and the team’s ability to create a design for Florida’s landscape and the global landscape of contemporary architecture. Founder Rene Gonzalez is a University of Florida and UCLA alumnus who is the first Miami architect in 50 years to be awarded twice by the AIA Miami for his projects in the city. Architectural Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Curbed Miami, and The New York Times have all featured Rene Gonzalez Architects’ designs in the US and Mexico. 

Photo by Michael Stavaridis / courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architects

The firm’s portfolio roll consists of projects for a diverse market sector. That includes the Alchemist Boutique, which is nestled in a ground floor space facing Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road. The news store is designed to be an insulated box that allows customers to disconnect from the constant motion, noise, and heat of the surrounding environment.  Melamine foam was used for the store’s ceilings and walls to buffer sound and provide a soft, tactile quality. This innovative design is nearly opposite of the original Alchemist boutique on the fifth floor, designed by Rene Gonzalez as well. The first store’s concept was to blur the line between interior and exterior with the use of floor to ceiling windows and mirrored surfaces. The second store inhibits an enveloping, protective cocoon-like space.

Shulman + Associates

100 NE 38th St., Miami, FL 33137 

Shulman + Associates is an award-winning Miami-based firm offering architectural design for a variety of industry sectors in the city. Founding principal, Allan Todd Shulman studied architecture extensively at Cornell University and at the University of Miami. Aside from leading his firm, Shulman also shares his knowledge in architecture as a Director of Graduate Programs in Architecture at the University of Miami School of Architecture. Shulman is joined by a team of skilled registered and certified architects who create stunning and site-specific designs based on multidisciplinary ideas. 

Architectural Digest, Dezeen, Curbed Miami, Metropolis Magazine, Marie Claire Maison, Vanity Fair, and Dwell Magazine have highlighted the firm in their pages. Some of these features include the firm’s award-winning design in a multitude of sectors exhibiting its versatility in a variety of projects in architecture and interior design. One of the firm’s award-winning projects is the 723 Lincoln Lane North retail space. It features a flagship two-story Marshalls and a Lincoln Eatery food hall. This project was recognized with a 2019 Better Beach Gold Award for Innovative Architecture and a 2018 AIA Miami Merit Award.

Synalovski Romanik Saye

1800 Eller Dr. Suite #500, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316 

Manuel Synalovski, Merrill Romanik, and Jose Saye are the pioneers behind the firm’s award-winning designs. The firm was founded in 1988 as Manuel Synalovski Architects. Romanik and Saye joined the team and the trio and renamed the firm Synalovski Romanik Saye in 1998. Each principal shares a wealth of industry experience and design philosophy with its team. Synalovski and Romanik are members of the AIA, NCARB, and are both LEED Accredited Professionals. Saye is a renowned Registered Architect whose design palette is influenced by his diverse background.

The South Florida Business Journal named Synalovski Romanik Saye one of the Top 25 Architecture Firms of 2020. One of the firm’s retail projects was for Prada at The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills. The firm provided architectural design, interior design, and contract administration for the project. The Prada store renovation enhanced the character of the Sawgrass Mills by contributing an elegant and upscale exclusive retail experience. Synalovski Romanik Saye has also designed multiple Prada stores in Orlando and San Marcos, Texas. 

TSAO Design Group

7636 NE 4th Ct. Suite #101, Miami, FL 33138 

TSAO Design Group is a nationally-recognized firm specializing in architecture and interior design for corporate, institutional, and retail projects. The firm is headed by four principals who lead both the Miami and San Francisco offices. Jason Hagopian and Janie Coka are LEED Accredited Professionals who have led the firm’s award-winning projects. The firm has been around since 1981 and has built a blue-ribbon reputation among many of its repeat clients. 

TSAO Design Group’s projects lean on modern and sleek designs built for the now. A perfect example of this is the Minotti, an Italian furniture designer and retail brand. The project features a modern, open space with a full view of displays in the Miami Design District. Other retail projects include the Westfield Shopping Center, a Charles Schwab, an Adore, and a Sephora.

Vertical Design Studio

10950 SW 88th St. Suite #200, Miami, FL 33176 

Vertical Design Studio, formerly known as Archiquadra, is a Miami-based architecture and design firm established in 2009.  Since day one, the firm has grown its clientele and expanded throughout South Florida. Founder Jorge Gonzalez is an AIA recognized architect, a licensed interior designer, and LEED Accredited Professional. He graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Architecture. Gonzalez’s wealth of experience in the field has been shaped by previously working with firms like The Russell Partnership, RE Chisholm Architects, and Bermello Ajamil & Partners.

The firm’s team of design-savvy professionals have worked on a variety of projects in Miami. Some of its detailed services include master planning, schematic design, detailing, integrated light design, and project management among others. Vertical Design Studio’s portfolio is home to a diverse collection of commercial, residential, restaurant, and retail projects. Among its retail projects is Kiton IIm located in Bal Harbour and completed in 2016. The retail store features a luxurious and classy interior design where sleek neutral-toned shelves are lined with steel. 

William Lane Architect

1480 Marseille Dr., Miami, FL 33141

William Lane founded the firm in 1990 as a full-service design firm specializing in planning and designing public and private spaces. Its designs aim to unify art and architecture to come up with a more dynamic environment. The firm’s work has appeared in Miami New Times, The Miami Herald, The New York Times, and ArchDaily. The firm has received numerous awards in the last few years for its impeccable design quality and efficient service.

Most of the firm’s projects are concentrated in Miami, but a number are located across a number of different states. The Chroma women’s apparel shop in Miami Beach features a minimalist visionary approach. William Lane Architect’s team designed the 1,500-square-foot store with muslin stretched scrims, walls with neon tube lighting, and soffit ceiling complete with lighting and a hanging display that hovers over the length of the retail area.