When the world’s leading hotel and real estate brands begin conceiving of an iconic new architectural project—one that will redefine itself as a company for a generation—that process usually begins with a name: Foster, Hadid, Viñoly, Denniston.
What comes next is often a dizzying exercise in scale, size, money, and ambition involving hundreds of minds, thousands of hands, and millions of hours.
Every once in a while, one of these skyline-defining, mind-numbingly complicated masterpieces also defies the odds and actually gets funded and built. Case in point is the 1,049’ Waldorf Astoria tower in downtown Miami that just launched sales today, topping out as the tallest hotel and residential building in the U.S. planned for south of New York City and set to accelerate Miami’s already scorching real estate market on fire.
In a city long known for its development brash and real estate bling, the new Waldorf Astoria Residences Miami didn’t have much of a choice but to go-big-or-go-home architecturally. From the first napkin sketches years ago, it had to command attention. It had to have the vertically defining mass and scale that quietly screams, “I’m here”.
Yet, at the same time, it had to carve a new skyline standard in a city that’s constantly re-defining itself in real time and, right now at least, on the cusp of a new global re-Renaissance. In short—visually, architecturally, and symbolically—Waldorf Astoria’s new building had to capture Miami’s “moment”.
“Miami has become a true global city, drawing in a high concentration of international buyers and travelers, as well as those domestically from the Northeast, Midwest and California,” said Ryan Shear, Managing Partner of New York and Miami-based Property Markets Group (PMG), the project’s developer. “Waldorf Astoria’s rich history and heritage combined with Miami’s flare needed to evoke an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from a new generation of luxury consumers, as well as generational Waldorf brand loyalists around the world.”
Despite its sometimes lazy reputation for outdated 1980s-era condos, Miami hasn’t ever been an epicenter for apathetic architecture. Bigger, taller, flashier rolls at global speed here. So if developers can’t keep up with what buyers want they might as well go home.
PMG has been on the forefront of challenging the pre-conceived notion that transformative buildings can’t change markets for decades, from the Muse Residences in conjunction with Deepak Chopra in Sunny Isles to 111 West 57th Street, situated along Midtown Manhattan’s Billionaires’ Row and the second tallest residential high rise tower in the U.S.
The Miami Waldorf Astoria’s pivoting, stacked glass architecture—envisaged by concept architect Carlos Ott in his fifth collaboration with the developer—is yet one more example of PMG’s design-defining influence on America’s highest-end real estate.
From a distance, the building’s cubist, Jenga-like profile against the sky, consisting of nine spiraling glass boxes, evokes tension, as if it’s about to topple over at any moment. Yet, simultaneously the building’s silhouette seems like it’s been there forever already, linearly merging light, sky, clouds, glass, and Biscayne Bay in a way that, despite its height and top-heavy design, lends it something weightless and ethereal.
For the interiors, PMG and Waldorf Astoria partnered with California-based interior design firm BAMO, which is legendary for creating captivating interior environments founded in a seamless integration of flow, light, and function. Residences start at $1 million, with sales and marketing being led in-house by PMG Residential, in collaboration with Fredrik Eklund, Julia Spillman and John Gomes of Douglas Elliman’s Eklund | Gomes Team. Toronto-based private equity firm Greybrook Realty Partners and global hospitality company Hilton are the ambitious project’s other strategic partners.
“Waldorf Astoria Residences Miami will permanently change downtown Miami’s skyline,” says PMG’s Shear. “It will bring unprecedented architecture to South Florida as the tallest residential and hotel building south of New York City. Waldorf Astoria Miami boldly embraces being individualistic in both scale and shape. From its double-height amenities and signature spaces such as Peacock Alley and Specialty Restaurant, to a private residential pool deck four hundred feet up, the building’s design expressions are larger than life.”
Within the larger context of Miami’s re-Renaissance as a city and the pandemic overall right now, the Waldorf Astoria’s pedigree also couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Over the last decade Miami has seen a major evolution,” says Shear. “Trendy neighborhoods have blossomed. The arts, entertainment and culinary landscapes have matured. The skylines of Brickell, Downtown Miami and the Biscayne Corridor have filled in with some of the most luxurious and architecturally impressive condominium towers the world has ever seen. Yet, compared to other top cities in the country, Miami is still so young. In less than a century, Miami is poised to become a globally revered metropolis with thriving diversified economy. After the pandemic especially, Miami’s combination of international flare, favorable taxes, warm weather and coastal beauty create an immensely desirable lifestyle, and we’re drawing in a high concentration of wealthy buyers domestically, predominantly from the Northeast, Midwest and California. The growth Miami will experience in the next 10 years will further establish it as one of the most important cities in the world.”
Waldorf Astoria’s global reputation for luxury, elegance, and impeccable brand certainty dating back to 1931 is also particularly well timed for Miami as a luxury real estate market at the moment, which is currently seeing a resurgence of UHNW buyers who are newly freed to work remotely and moving south with cash in hand. Including 360 private residences as well as 205 guestrooms and suites within the five-star hotel, Miami’s new Waldorf satisfies a massive pent-up demand for high-end, turnkey, luxury properties that have been designed within the context of pandemic as the supply of single family homes and spacious condominiums recently has plummeted.
“We are thrilled to bring Waldorf Astoria to the Miami market, a dynamic destination that has come to embody a new era of luxury and cosmopolitan ethos,” says Dino Michael, senior vice president and global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. “Thanks to a strong partnership with PMG and Greybrook Realty, we’ve been able to develop a property that is authentic yet unique to its locale, where residents and guests will feel a strong sense of geography backed by the service and heritage of a brand like Waldorf Astoria at a perfect time.”
Given Miami’s scorching everything at the moment—including the economy, the housing market, the tech scene, and the influx of new residents and businesses—downtown’s Waldorf Astoria is also something of a feather for the city as well.
“A brand as elite and globally respected as Waldorf Astoria making its mark in Miami continues to solidify the city as an international leader,” adds PMG’s Shear. “Specifically, Waldorf Astoria Residences Miami’s location in downtown precisely complements the neighborhood’s growth and level of luxury offered to business leaders and international residents from around the world. The brand has always focused on delivering the most elevated living experiences in the most sought-after destinations. That’s now come home to Miami. We hope the long-term impact and implications of this building are only the beginning for everything that this city can become.”