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Yes, it’s yet another starchitectural-quality garage for Miami Beach — this one a sedately curvilinear structure topped by four ultra-luxe condos in the very hot, parking-needy South of Fifth neighborhood.

But unlike some other parking structures in Miami Beach by star architects — a peculiar hybrid that has flourished in the design-savvy resort city — the proposed Torino Garage doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself. And that seems to be smoothing its way to approval in a historic neighborhood where new development gets sharp scrutiny.

The seven-story building, designed by former Norman Foster partner Brandon Haw for New York real estate investor Eric Hadar, tries hard to blend in, making an overt but subtle nod to the streamlined Art Deco architecture of the surrounding Ocean Beach historic district. The four stories of parking above the ground floor, which includes a big restaurant space, have rounded corners and eyebrows like its Deco and Streamline Moderne neighbors.

The four parking levels will be fully screened by panels and thin vertical fins that would bring back the pastel color palette created by artist Leonard Horowitz that defined the South Beach revival in the 1980s. Each floor would sport a different hue, from yellow and orange to magenta, offset by reflective white fins, so that the colors will seem to shift as a viewer walks down the street. LED lighting would make the building glow softly at night, Haw said.

And the two residential stories above — where developer Hadar plans to occupy a condo — would be significantly set back and lushly landscaped, rendering them virtually invisible from the sidewalk. The building would occupy the site of a parking lot on the northwest corner of Collins Avenue and Fourth Street, so there’s no issue with demolition of an old building.

The design, which requires no variances, won the support of the usually prickly South of Fifth Neighborhood Association and, on Tuesday, enthusiastic and unanimous approval from the city’s historic preservation board. The proposal next goes to the planning board on July 28 for final approval.

“It’s really, really beautiful,” said preservation board chair Jane Gross at Tuesday’s hearing as she extolled the use of the late Horowitz’s pivotal palette.

The board’s only quibble: that the project’s proposed landscaping on Collins Avenue is too heavy, visually and physically disconnecting the sidewalk from the neighborhood and disrupting the historic streetscape. Haw said that would be scaled back.

Haw is no stranger to the Beach: While still at Foster + Partners, he designed a condo tower for developer Alan Faena’s namesake district on Collins Avenue at mid-Beach, then a second, also for Faena, after going out on his own.

Haw’s garage design would replace two previously approved but bulkier schemes, one preceding Hadar’s ownership of the property, that included a robotic garage and more residential units. But Hadar, who owns the oceanfront Art Deco Savoy Hotel two blocks away on Ocean Drive, decided to re-start from scratch.

“I’m so vested in this community that I wanted to do something that wasn’t necessarily economic, but would enhance the neighborhood,” said Hadar, Chairman and CEO of Allied Partners. “I look at this as a sculptural pedestal for the fabulous residences on top. It’s a garage, but it’s a piece of art, too, if you will. I could not be happier with the job Brandon did here.”

The Beach’s star-architect garage trend was launched in 1995, when the city and developer Tony Goldman teamed up for the Ballet Valet garage on Collins and Seventh Street — the so-called Chia Pet garage designed by Miami’s Arquitectonica, which later also designed a private mixed-use garage for the Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood. The ante was upped by 1111 Lincoln Road, designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron.

Others on the Beach by celebrated architects include Frank Gehry’s New World Center Pennsylvania Avenue garage as well as a garage off Lincoln Road by Enrique Norten’s TEN Arquitectos. But the city recently scrapped a design for a public garage by the firm of Zaha Hadid, who died in March in Miami Beach.

The star-architect garage template has also been picked up by developer Craig Robins for his Design District makeover across Biscayne Bay in Miami.

Source: Miami Herald