For Kengo Kuma, the Art Deco style in Miami feels like jazz music in physical form. “So we composed our own piece to fit in with the history, but we used a modern approach,” the Japanese architect tells AD. Kuma, known for striking designs that merge architecture and nature, is talking about one of his latest projects, Aman Miami Beach Residences, which is also his first residential tower in the United States.
Plans for the latest beachfront offerings by Aman, an international hospitality company, are twofold: a new hotel within the Versailles building, which is being restored under the supervision of Jean-Michel Gathy of Denniston, and the condo tower designed by Kuma and Associates.
Like jazz, Kuma’s tower embodies a certain swing. Among balanced elements like a stepped façade, light tonal palette, and symmetrical vertical louvers, off-kilter features emerge like blue notes played slightly off pitch. Take the structure’s organic shape, for example, or the three-story-high columns balancing the base of the condo. Reaching 18 stories above the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, the building radiates a light and breezy tone, easily falling in step with the coastal serenity and timbre of the crashing waves. “Waving white honey curves evoke the lyrical Art Deco notes of the companion Versailles building,” Kuma adds of the design.
The columns are easily one of the most captivating features of the building, creating a stilt-like impression not uncommon in beach-adjacent communities. While visually intriguing, this design choice wasn’t just for the aesthetics. “As is often the case in projects with great views on all sides, neighbors requested to preserve their views of the coast,” Kuma explains, adding that the lobby’s ceiling was also raised as part of the solution to appease the surrounding tenants. However, once inside the main atrium, residents are greeted by one of Kuma’s favorite parts of the design: a parametric “wave” made from custom wood latticework.
Like those of the building they’ll inhabit, plans for the residential units are also extensive. Each condo is anchored by the use of clean angles and parallel lines and will feature custom wall treatments, plasterwork, Japanese paper washi screens, and views of the ocean. Kitchens will welcome a tapestry of materials including coral stone, white steel, limestone, and white oak, in addition to custom wood cabinetry. The bathrooms will feature stone walls and oversized hinoki wood soaking tubs to invoke a spa-like experience in a private space.
“I wanted the building to feel as light as possible with an open ground floor,” Kuma tells AD. “So we implemented green roofs above the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing spaces and extensive natural plantings in the surrounding grounds.” This convergence between nature and artificial has been a key definer of Kuma’s work for the past three decades and an ethos clearly continued in the Aman Miami residences.
While the building may sing a sweet song on its own, it will also weave its way into the texture of the Florida city’s existing chorale. As Kuma summarizes about the building’s origins, “the design emerged as a form that harmonizes the ocean waters and the urban skyline.”