Focus: Architect Isay Weinfeld
Brazilian architect and designer Isay Weinfeld brings a touch of tropical modernism to new projects in New York and Miami.
Arguably Brazil’s best-known architect since Oscar Niemeyer, Isay Weinfeld has been designing private homes, luxury hotels and furniture since he founded his multidisciplinary practice in 1973. From the beginning, the Sao Paolo native has designed projects from the largest to the smallest scale and across a variety of programs; including civic, commercial and residential architecture, as well as interiors. Recently his firm has completed the Fasano Hotel in Uruguay, a private residence for the Royal family of Monaco and a line of office furniture for Herman Miller.
Fond of using concrete and simple shapes, many of Weinfeld’s private residences seem to float above the landscape with boxy, cantilevered living spaces that open to the outdoors. Although the architect has designed a multitude of them over the past 35 years, he still approaches each, with great specificity. “A house should exactly fit its user,” he says, and he signs on only after listening to prospective clients describe how they wish to live. “What do you do when you wake up in the morning?” he’ll ask. “How do you spend your day?”
In 2011, Weinfeld developed a strong rapport with a young couple looking to build a home in Sao Paulo’s Jardins, an area known for its trendy shops and restaurants. The pair wanted an informal, light-filled dwelling where they could live with their three children and Brazilian art collection — something modern, but comfortable. Weinfeld’s design features a series of serene rooms punctuated by diverse textures.
While Weinfeld generally dismisses the label of Tropical Modernism, his designs share the movement’s flair for the tactile and a look that is both sensual and stark. At the Jardins Villa his restrained palette features weathered-wood paneling, iron-gray concrete and raw granite steps, while splashes of color come from the art pieces and from the lush green garden. In the living spaces, muted mid-century furniture includes a coatrack by Le Corbusier, Hans J. Wegner dining chairs and leather armchairs by Danish designer Ib Kofod-Larsen.
At a recent hotel project in Uruguay, the architect created a series of concrete bungalows that appear like stones scattered across the area’s rugged landscape. The project, Hotel Fasano Las Piedras in Punta del Este, combines private houses, hotel bungalows, a golf course, polo fields and a three-kilometer long beach over 480 hectares of arid, rocky land.
After a detailed study of the program, Weinfeld opted for a structure made up of single units designed and distributed as isolated modules almost “landing naturally” on the ground like the rocks themselves. From the outside the bungalows look like low-slung rectangles; on the inside the design features large open spaces, endless unframed glazing’s and pure white surfaces that combine with rustic woods, saddle leather and eclectic furniture pieces.
The project is not the first Weinfeld has designed for the Fasano Hotel Group. He designed the original Fasano Hotel, which opened in 2003 in São Paulo and was named one of the “50 Best Hotels of the World” by Condé Nast Traveler. He also designed several subsequent properties under the Fasano brand, including the upcoming Fasano Hotel and Residences at Shore Club in Miami. Developed by HFZ Capital Group, the project is located in South Beach and when complete in 2017 it will include a revamped Shore Club with a 100-room hotel and 75 luxury condominium residences designed by Isay Weinfeld.
The project marks Weinfeld’s first large scale project in Miami. He is also, currently working on his first multifamily project in New York City. Jardim, which means ‘garden’ in Portuguese, will be located in West Chelsea overlooking the High Line Park. The project design features a simple, monolithic structure rendered mostly in brick and concrete with latticed wood screens and a generously planted second-floor terrace that envelops the site.
The apartments themselves are a classy mix of smoked oak, marble, brass and limestone and prices average about US$2,500/sq. ft. (or $2 million for one-bedroom units.) Douglas Elliman Development Marketing is handling the exclusive sales and marketing. Jardim, also incorporates a private driveway and 2,000 sq. ft. of gardens across two levels. On the ground floor, the courtyard is viewed through tall windows that provide a leafy backdrop for the front desk. Glass skylights in the second floor terrace allow natural light to filter through to the residence’s swimming pool and gymnasium below.
The project is a welcome departure from the flamboyant architecture that surrounds it, including the soon to be completed 520 West 28th Street, a spaceship-like condominium by Zaha Hadid Architects. “This isn’t a kind of architecture that shouts, it’s an architecture that speaks low,” Weinfeld said in a recent interview. “What is very important for me is to have a very well-designed plan. For me, the function of a project is very important. It’s not a question of beauty. The building has to work to make sense.”
Fasano Hotel and Residences at Shore Club
Miami has long been a favored destination for well-heeled Brazilian travelers, now Brazil’s top designer and hotelier are teaming for a luxury development in South Beach. Isay Weinfeld is converting The Shore Club, a historic hotel in Miami’s Art Deco district, into a luxury complex with condominiums, hotel rooms and poolside bungalows, while Fasano Hotel Group will operate the hotel and residences.
The Art Deco building, which is located on the waterfront in South Beach, was originally built by Miami architect Albert Anis, in 1939. Weinfeld is preserving and transforming the Central Tower, the Shore Club’s original 22-floor structure designed by David Chipperfield and adding external living spaces. New renderings show glass-lined balconies, light-colored materials and lush landscaping. There will also be a converted eight-story North Tower and two-story poolside and beachfront bungalows. The re-design will feature a total of 100 hotel rooms and 75 apartments, many of them offering expansive views of the beach and Atlantic Ocean.
The South Tower will house the main hotel lobby and retain many of the property’s original details while also bridging the indoors with the outdoors via a mix of terrazzo, concrete, steel and lush landscaping. Outside, the new swimming pool, will be the largest in South Beach measuring about 250 feet long and over 9,500 sq. ft.
For the condominium units, Weinfeld is creating a look of quiet, laid-back elegance by combining wood grain with white stone finishes. He has also designed expansive outdoor living areas, some terraces larger than 3,000 sq. ft., and used wide oak floors to transition seamlessly from inside to the outdoor areas. All residences will have floor-to-ceiling windows and Bulthaup kitchens complemented by a full Gaggenau appliance suite. The condominium units range from one to one to four-bedrooms and 800 sq. ft. to over 4,000 sq. ft. There is also one tri-level penthouse and a selection of two-story bungalows. Buyers enjoy access to the new amenities building that will house a gym, yoga rooms and a spa. Prices start at $2 million.
Text by Sophie Kalkreuth
Images by Douglas Elliman
This article was originally published in PALACE 15