Miami architect Rene Gonzalez shares his vision for Surfside’s luxe Surf Row Residences

Reimagining the brownstone for an oceanfront community

Architect Rene Gonzalez has built his reputation designing environmentally-responsive buildings, creating some of Miami’s most distinctive and future-proof residences since founding his award-winning eponymous practice in 1997.

The Miami native understands better than most the challenges facing South Florida, and his upcoming project Surf Row Residencies harnesses his experience building on the shorefront while expressing a site-specific architectural language for the uptown beach community, Surfside.

The Surf Row Residences is a development of eight bespoke beachfront homes spearheaded by the Linéaire Group in partnership with ONE Sotheby’s International and designed by Gonzalez. The oceanfront community puts a contemporary twist on the brownstone tradition in its airy constellation of two and three-storey properties, which range from 3,500-5,600 sq ft.

Surf Row’s stepped typography is inspired by the Brownstones of New York. Render courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architect

‘The concept of transposing the “brownstone” came from a desire to provide many of the values of this type of dwelling, but without the heavy actual brown stones or bricks that would be usually associated with the original versions,’ explains Gonzalez. ‘The Surf Row Residences are made of coral stone and filled with light, glass and private gardens which will provide the residents with a valuable quality of life that will be unprecedented in that area – a home at street level which they can enter directly from the sidewalk or their parking space yet with all the benefits of a condominium community.’

Surf Row picks some of its cues from Gonzalez’s earlier works – the lightness of his Glass high-rise, the earthiness of the brutalist Prairie Residence – and, utilising local materials, blends organic forms with modernist elements. Natural elements come via textured French Oak and Italian marble and limestone, with vast expanses of glass amplifying light flow across the interiors. And each residence (ranging from three to five bedrooms) has access to 2,000 sq ft of outdoor living that further grounds their sense of place.

Other amenities include a rooftop with a plunge pool, summer kitchen, and an expansive veranda – an idea Gonzalez has borrowed from the brownstone – plus office space, a library, meditation space and exercise room. There will also be two and three-car, humidity-controlled private garages and an enclosed front patio and garden offering a mix of condo amenities and a single-family living experience.

Surf Row exterior. Render courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architect

The townhouses are being sold exclusively via ONE Sotheby’s International by private invitation, with prices starting from $5.75m. Construction is scheduled to start on-site in Q3 2023.

The development will benefit from its proximity to the nearby Four Seasons Surf Club, as well as the lessons the architect has picked up from his other projects, which include designing the home of the Berkowitz Contemporary Foundation and a new wing for Andre Balazs’s The Standard Hotel.

Why does this style of ‘brownstone’ residential building work in Miami?

Rene Gonzalez: The value of the brownstone format is the multi-level residence, some form of porch or stoop, and the benefit of each owner having its own private separated space, rather than having neighbours above you or sharing a small piece of a large condo building compound.

Most of the current real estate available in Surfside is either a very small inventory of private single-family homes or condos in large towers. The re-imagined brownstone format provides a new alternative to these two limited options. It is also a form that always seeks to become integrated and interwoven into the very fabric of the actual neighbourhood, which is exactly what these new residences will achieve.

Render courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architect

How have you ‘future-proofed’ the building and integrated Miami’s unique environment into its design?

RG: In Miami Beach, there is no question that climate issues are currently affecting our world now. The tides are getting higher, and as such, the original seawalls built to keep the water out of the city also had to rise. There are sections of town where the streets had to be raised to deal with the increase of regularly occurring flooding.

Environmental integration is always seeking to mimic the qualities of nature, which have provided best practices for centuries.

We have considered the environment in which the Surf Row Residences live in every possible manner. Whether it was the precise setting of the buildings on the site providing for best views and capturing the best breezes, the integration of the gardens into the actual façade of the structure, or the selection of the glass materials which allows the residences to blend in with nature that surrounds it.

Render courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architect
Render courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architect
Render courtesy Rene Gonzalez Architect

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