Architect Profile: Chap Oppenheim Architecture + Design

Award winning architect, Chad Oppenheim’s designs, although not limited to Miami, are mainly concentrated in and around Miami. His influence is being felt most in the Design District and Uptown. Visually, the Cornell graduate’s projects are sharp and stunning. There are patterns to the designs, however. Notice the Ten Museum Park tower and compare it to the Ice and Element designs (Element was formerly known as Ice 2). Both have high ceilings in each floor, are draped in glass and steel, and are vertically elongated with a basic glass cube shape. The cube seems to be the distinguishing characteristic of Chad Oppenheim designs. The Lynx development in the CBD, which is his most ambitious to date, maintains the cube-like design pattern except on different levels. In observing a few of his designs, you will be able to distinguish them as Oppenheim designs easily. Sky Residences also resembles the Ice and 10 Museum projects. Clearly, Oppenheim is not known for curvy, colorful designs. His are bleak, contemporary, and clean. The COR project in the Design District is a continuation of his rectangular cube designs but has a white concrete shell with what appear to be large port holes exposing a glass inner base. The crown of the tower has multiple symbols that resemble airplane propellers, thus giving the building a feeling of movement. The design is forward thinking and interesting but doesn’t indicate a departure from his former designs. His mid-rise Cube project is fittingly named after what seems to be his defining shape. Here he takes a multi dimensional approach to his cube designs and has cubes protruding from the buildings base. It makes for an abstract, futuristic look, but again does not break any new ground for the firm. The Cube development is heavy on steel, which also gives it an almost industrial/warehouse undertone. Oppenheim designs are easy to spot. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends. If you want versatility and dynamism in design, then it is bad. If you want steady characteristic designs, then it is not. There may be a change in store for his future projects. Maybe his designs will embrace curves. Maybe he will break the cube mold that seems to confine him his creativity, but as of right now, nothing has changed. We are left with the same. Through a developer standpoint, I don’t see why I would want my building looking like three or four others nearby. However, it may just be that his clients want what he offers. They know what to expect. His designs are simple and unobtrusive. As of right now, Lynx, the Ice development, and most of his Design District projects remain frozen. There is little activity on those lots. Certainly, it would be nice to see them go up, but progress is slow. It is not clear why. The architect designs, the developer executes. What are the implications of these issues? Is this pattern related to the architect? Some implications: his projects might not be an easy sell. Maybe they are too expensive to build and therefore difficult to finance. Maybe they are not appealing to buyers–this is doubtful. Or, maybe, he has not done business with the most adept developers. Regardless, the firm’s role in Miami’s growth is important and influential and not likely to diminish. Hopefully we’ll see some more dynamic designs come from his drawing boards and some more of his big projects get topped off.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “Architect Profile: Chap Oppenheim Architecture + Design

  1. Dan

    not propeller symbols at the top of the COR, functioning wind turbines. This developer completely missed the point of at least half of what is going on in the building. Much of which would be very marketable from the point of a developer if thats your particular side of the world. Check out arcspace.com for a better quick overview of what this building is about.

  2. I know that they are supposed to be energy generating wind turbines. When I wrote this profile that fact was not clear to me, so I thought it was an aesthetic feature rather than functional. There is another more informative article on this project. It is called “Insight in to the groundbreaking Cor Project”. The article is not mine, but I included it and the source on this blog. You can use the search function to find it since the url is too long to paste here and the link feature is disabled in comments. Insofar as marketability is concerned, I agree that the developer could have made more of an emphasis on Cor’s unique building features but the question remains: do buyers generally care about the building being green or being self sustainable? I’m not altogether convinced that they do. Location, amenities, aesthetics, and the developer’s reputation tend to take priority over energy conservation features. I will take a look at arcspace.com for more information. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Ten Museum Park in South Beach? « Boom or Bust: Miami

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