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Montclair: Miami Beach


Existing at the intersection of civic, commercial, and residential activity, the project emerged from a process of contextual sampling confined within the restrictions of an exaggerated historic preservation agenda and municipal zoning constraints. Confronted with 2 lots that straddle a nondescript, but sacred Post-war apartment building, the massing of the complex is derived from the collusion of abstract reference and the mundane. Financial objectives-- the maximization of saleable area and idealized unit/parking correlations are kept in check with sensitivity towards the maintenance of the surrounding urban fabric.A dramatic entry sequence-- emphasizes differentiations is time-subtly sequencing from old to new. Upon passing through the original front doors of the apartment building, one is confronted by a curvaceous, ramping portal, which leads to a lobby in which glass elevators pierce a glass ceiling It is this interstitial zone, which organizes the project in multiple dimensions simultaneously. Clarity in plan and section create efficiencies that permit internal, open-air boulevards of ample width-establishing moments for communal interaction. Forty units, some newly created and some carved from the existing structure, are configured to provide an open plan and dual exterior exposures-allowing for abundant light/air and ultimate owner flexibility.Organized and connected by the vertical and horizontal circulation systems-- four distinct structures of various, yet similar architectural articulations, relate to each other while simultaneously referencing their contextual partners of distinct typologies and time frames. Materials and methods-sampled and simplified from the surrounding buildings provide an elemental palette. Aluminum screens of various proportion and transparency, envelope the project in distinct patterns-establishing an ephemeral mass that filters and reflects view and light-- both inside and out, distorts scale, and abstractly alludes to forms in the surrounding historical district. A rough, Keystone base, mined from local earth contrasts the precision of the mostly glass, aluminum and stucco building. The materiality of the project transforms according to stimuli of its situation.The new 5-story structures wrap around the existing 2-story apartment building creating an open court in the sky. A pleasure garden with an edgeless pool, situated on top of the historic structure, serves as the main public space of the project-creating a luscious playground for its inhabitants while defining a soft allusion to a civic plaza in which the space confronts across the street. Private, enclosed, roof-top pavilions provide a sacred space open to the sky for meditation and reflection.  Architects: Oppenheim Architecture + Design.Photography: Ken Hayden

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