Starchitects are Reshaping the Luxury Condo Market

What do luxury condo developers do when faced with so much competition? Turn to a star architect! Better known as a “starchitect”, these are highly sought-after, internationally acclaimed designers of spectacular, awe-inspiring buildings – in very high demand in the ultra-luxury condo market. A recent Miami Herald article looked at how these innovative architects are changing the industry.

Edgardo DeFortuna had a property in Sunny Isles Beach that needed to stand out from the other luxury high-rises, so he met with Herzog and de Meuron, famous for the Perez Art Museum in Miami and a unique parking garage on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. The result was the wildly undulating shape of the 192-unit Jade Signature. With just 12 units remaining – at an average of $1,300 per square foot – DeFortuna does not regret the high expense. “If you ask me, would I do it again? I would in a second.” He also claims, “This is not a monument, this is a place you will be living in.”

Other developers of similar luxury towers agree that one must have an edge – something to make a building outshine the competition.

The recently opened, Foster + Partners waterfront Faena House in mid-Miami Beach, sold for a jaw-dropping $3,974 average square foot. This was almost fourfold more than the already high $1,009 per square foot towers from Terra Group’s Grove at Grand Bay. These Miami condos, known as “Twisted Sisters” for their swerving shapes, are a design standout. They were designed by Danish superstar Bjarke Ingels. These Pritzker awardees will join the late Bella Hadid’s One Thousand Museum  as part of the eye-catching Miami landscape.

While these international “starchitects” are true stars on the global stage, local designers are justifiably gaining recognition. In South Florida, Arquitectonica’s Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership buildings often match, and sometimes surpass, the price per square foot of the international stars.

Then there is the newest trend in the luxury condo market – branding buildings with famous names from the world of fashion, product, and even automobile design. Think Fendi, Armani, and Missoni.

Dezer Development’s Porsche Design Tower in Sunny Isles Beach includes innovative elevators that will transport vehicles directly to living spaces. Units there have sold for as much as $1,658 per square foot.

Local developers began turning to big name architects in 2011, when they needed to persuade prospective buyers to deposit 50% up front. The only way to do this was to offer them a “Picasso or a Jackson Pollock,” says Peter Zaewski of Cranespotters.

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