Miami Style: The Deep Facade

The Deep Facade is becoming a component of Miami Style, born out of climate, cost, and aesthetic, and can be seen popping up all around the city.


South Beach Art Deco Hotels

Note: Miami Style Posts seek to define Architectural or Urban Trends used in Miami.

At the turn of the 20th century, a local boom in the hospitality industry coincided with the widespread popularity of Art Deco style. This was adapted to Miami’s tropical themes and auto-focused transportation to become a Miami staple and helped to define a local style for the better part of a century. However, as it faded, ubiquitous glass towers and 80s office buildings filled the skyline, mimicking other cities around the country.


The Perez Art Museum seeks to not have an easily defined form, moving away from the decorated boxes of Art Deco.

As urbanists and architects locally and around the world look at Miami as a global city to be taken seriously, they have begun to catalog and implement their interpretations of a new Miami style. In designing the Perez Art Museum, Herzog and de Meuron explicitly stated that they wanted to take Miami away from the decorated boxes of Art Deco Architecture.  They wanted to leverage Miami’s lush vegetation and breeze by creating a building that did not have a distinct form, but a deep facade to accept social, shaded spaces. One hot day in Miami is all it takes to learn that in order for social spaces to be successful outdoors, they need to be designed with our climate in mind. On some of the hottest days in Miami, patrons can be seen enjoying the views from the shaded decks of the PAMM.

This concept has been used by local firm Arquitectonica, as well as starchitects such as Renzo Piano Building Workshop, OMA, and Jeanne Gang. While some of them did not shy away from the form, many use the deep facade to help regulate climate both inside and outside. The large balconies above each unit create a fin to shade the unit below, keeping direct sunlight off of the windows allowing for open views without the heat gain. In addition, these oversized terraces are seen as a value add, as they add space but marginal cost. This was important for developers looking to sell the units, and those wishing to purchase them.

The Jade Signature by Herzog & de Meuron employs these techniques as well, with unique concrete vertical forms separating each unit. The depth of the facade allows the designers, similar to Studio Gang’s proposed tower above, to play with the facade’s aesthetic in new ways. This interplay in the space between the outside and inside edges of a facade is an aesthetic tool that we can expect to see more of as architects continue to explore this space.

The Deep Facade is not a new concept, but it is one that appears to be successful in Miami right now. While the climate continues to get hotter and developers look for cost savings, the implications on climate, cost, and aesthetic will keep designers on this concept for a while. Perhaps this knowledge can be taken to other types of buildings that it can be useful for. Office spaces, apartment buildings, and retail centers can benefit from these ideas as well, and Miami will benefit from having a unique style on the world stage once again.

Check out this past Miami Style article on “The Intra-Block.”

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