RSHP’s design - a response to a competition by Santander Global Properties for a landmark headquarters building in Miami’s Downtown Financial District – sought to create a strong identity for this leading global financial institution. The scheme aimed to provide a sustainable, flexible tower, responsive to changing economic climates, and robust enough to deal with the sometimes harsh environment of the Eastern Seaboard of the USA.
The brief required 77,000m² of AAA office space to be divided flexibly between Santander Bank and sub-tenants, accessed securely from two separate entrances and parking for 1,500 vehicles. Brickell Avenue has the largest concentration of international banks in the United States and is located a couple of blocks back from the waterfront. RSHP proposed two designs. The preferred option demolishes an existing 14 storey office building on the site in order to achieve high grade floor plates and a coherent solution to parking space.
Miami has some of the strongest winds for any major city in the world and a very high water table, affecting the structure, design and organisation of any proposed buildings. Lateral stiffness, strength and stability became the dominant consideration for the initial design resulting in a centre-core structure, with a cruciform floor plan, tapering slightly toward the upper floors. The central concrete core is connected to eight perimeter mega-columns via several levels of outrigger trusses located at the plant floors which divide the office floors at 12 storey intervals. The symmetrical plan shape of the building provides lateral stiffness in two directions leading to a highly efficient stability system. Working with Arup, the latest techniques for seismic stability are applied, minimising the wind forces felt by the building and also reducing the cost of the building significantly. The lower 15 floors are given over to car-parking, as the area’s high water table makes extensive underground parking prohibitively expensive.
The tower will form the apex of a growing cluster of tall buildings in this area of Miami. The rotation of the plan – whilst maintaining the efficiency of a typical office floor-plate – helps to set the tower apart from the otherwise consistent urban grid, as well as giving office workers spectacular views and a bright, naturally-lit working environment. The cruciform plan can be configured in a number of ways to allow for a sub-division of functions and tenancies, as required.
The design team applied a holistic approach to the integration of the building’s services and the façade design and intelligent building controls optimise energy consumption and minimise energy costs.
An alternative scheme was provided – but rejected – integrating the existing buildings on the site into a more conventional, 60-storey orthogonal tower.