Miami has developed a contemporary vernacular of condominiums that includes brise-soleil-style balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows that offer panoramic water views. We have taken these indigenous elements of the new Miami skyline and continue the evolution of their local architectural language. Coconut Grove’s identity is closely tied to its untamed jungle-like vegetation, yet the center sadly lacks this quality. Our design “re-groves” the heart of Coconut Grove, and create a landscape in tune with the surroundings. The two towers of the Grove at Grand Bay respond to the surroundings and to each other, to give optimum views at every level. The towers take off from the ground to capture the full breadth of panoramic views from sailboat bays and the marina to the Miami skyline. The dancing motion of the towers creates a new landmark in the community. A lush abundance of plant-life blankets over the parking and amenity spaces, folding down to create pedestrian and vehicular access to the towers.
The combination of luxury and creativity can produce visually stunning results. Nowhere is that more evident than with the award-winning Grove at Grand Bay condominium towers in Coconut Grove, Florida.
As the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in Miami, flush with 1980s-era
office buildings and static high-rises, Coconut Grove needed a catalyst. The building’s designer lit the spark. Leveraging what he called the area’s “welldefined soul,” globally renowned architect Bjarke Ingels and BIG, his equally celebrated
firm, created a truly distinctive structure that takes full advantage of the region’s pristine beauty, while equipping it to stand tall against the occasionally ferocious weather. “We wanted to ‘re-grove the Grove,’” Ingels declared.
Leaving Nothing to Chance
With the Atlantic Ocean, picturesque Biscayne Bay and abundant natural foliage as the backdrop, BIG sought to maximize views for every resident in the complex. At the same time, because of its location in a hurricane zone, every aspect of Grove at Grand Bay—from its infrastructure to its abundant glass doors and aspect—required reinforcement and protection
Two Vitro Glass products, Solarban® 72 and Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass, helped to achieve the desired clarity and transparency, while the customized assembly ensured the openings’ ability to withstand hurricane-force winds.
Carlos Amin, vice president of sales for glass fabricator Tecnoglass, said nothing was left to chance. “Our engineers designed the floor-toceiling windows with three pieces of ¼-inch Solarban® 72 glass, and the balcony railings are laminated with two lites of Starphire® glass. We also hermetically sealed the doors and installed
custom-made rollers to ensure they operated properly,” he explained. “Everything is hurricane-resistant and insulated.”
As for the building itself, BIG’s first challenge was to address the space limitations and terrain of the construction site—a three-acre lot with a sloping grade—that was formerly occupied by the iconic Grand Bay Hotel.
Local zoning regulations that restrict high-rises to 20 stories required the firm to design two towers to accommodate the planned 98 units, which range in size from 1,300 square-feet to a 10,000-square-foot penthouse. The ground floor needed to be 13 feet above grade to comply with FEMA flood regulations.
The short end of the property faces the Atlantic Ocean, which also complicated matters because it gave only residents of the south tower unobstructed views of the water. In addition, site constraints dictated a square footprint for the base of the south tower, while the footprint of the north tower required it to retain a
rectangular shape throughout its height.
The desire to maximize views from both towers despite these restrictions demanded creativity. BIG, known for its startling, large-scale gestures, made dozens of 3-D prototypes, carved from different materials and resembling everything from drifting icebergs and terraced hillsides to stacked biscuits. The firm ultimately determined that two twisting, identical tornado-like forms would achieve the optimal orientation.
Withstanding and Protecting Nature
Although the condominiums would be outfitted with hurricane-resistant glass, additional safeguards against natural disasters were necessary. Reinforced concrete fortified the towers’ infrastructure, while a composite core of concrete and steel internal plates for their shear walls helped to mitigate torsional forces. Additional stability was provided through the installation of cambered (arched) floor plates
and pressure-injected auger-cast piles averaging 80 feet in depth.
When Hurricane Irma and its 100-mile-perhour winds hit in September 2017, the two towers “did extremely well—including the hurricane-impact glass,” said Jason Gilg, senior development manager of Terra Group, the building’s owner.
Several sustainable measures, including innovative landscaping and irrigation systems that reduced potable water consumption by 80 percent and the installation of high-efficiency chillers and variable-speed exhaust in the
heating and cooling systems, helped the luxury condominium complex become the first LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certified residential building in Miami-Dade County.
Completed in 2016, Grove at Grand Bay is the tallest twisting structure in the Western Hemisphere and the first of its kind in the United States. It has earned numerous industry awards for its innovation, construction quality and design, including being named the 2017 Building of the Year, U.S. Southeast Region, by
The Architect’s Newspaper.
More importantly, it has revitalized the storied neighborhood with an influx of several new retailers and restaurants. Delivering optimized views, abundant outdoor spaces and flexible floor plans, the two twisting towers “interact with one another,” said Ingels. “They become equally privileged.”
Formulated with an advanced triple-silver coating engineered for use on Starphire Ultra-Clear® glass, Solarban® 72 glass has visible light transmittance (VLT) of 71 percent with a solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.30 and a lightto-solar gain (LSG) ratio of 2.37.