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By Shayne Benowitz | Photo: Photography by Cláudio Manzoni | Architecture by Strang ARCHITECTURE | Interiors by Margaret Marquez | October 2, 2018
Architect Max Strang works with rectilinear forms to frame Miami’s endless sightlines.
When designing the home of a high-powered Miami attorney on a wedge-shaped plot of land overlooking Biscayne Bay in Coconut Grove, architect Max Strang scaled the heights on a cherry picker to study the land’s relationship to the bay. With this eye and the aid of 3D-modeling technology, he drafted long architectural lines that would sublimely frame the horizon and its views of mangrove islands with glimpses of the original Stiltsville homes in the far distance.
The result is a stunning 7,300-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-bath ultramodern home, composed of rectilinear forms that seemingly float above the bay in white stucco, concrete and gold-stained Resysta (a durable faux wood material made of rice husks, mineral oil and salt with a natural touch). “I like long, clean horizontal lines because they reflect the horizon line. Florida is flat to begin with, so the landscape resonates well with the architecture we do,” says Strang. “All of the main spaces in the house take in the water view.”
Strang’s philosophy is anchored in the experimental Sarasota School of Architecture, a midcentury modernist movement that plays with rectilinear frames and their parallel to the environment. In fact, he grew up in Central Florida in a home designed by Gene Leedy, one of the founders of the movement. In Miami, Strang has built an award-winning career designing monumental modern homes that are integrated harmoniously with their environs. This aesthetic philosophy is explored in his first monograph, Environmental Modernism: The Architecture of Strang, which was published in April.
In Coconut Grove, the plot of land lies below the base flood level determined by the Army Corps of Engineers, so the home is designed with breakaway walls atop raised concrete pilings to protect it against hurricane storm surge—and it was put to the test within a year of completion when Hurricane Irma made landfall. In spite of a boat ending up in the swimming pool, the home withstood the storm surge and avoided major damage. “There was certainly frustration with the timing, but the house performed well,” Strang reflects.
One of the key components of the home’s spectacular views are the walls of pocketing sliding glass doors. “Instead of one boring straight run of glass, I design undulations and frame views to create more interest,” Strang says. The house is built with a massive structural concrete pier that penetrates the first and second floors vertically, as well as two thinner concrete “fins.” The exposed structural concrete has snap tie impressions and becomes part of the home’s interior architecture. “It’s both raw and refined,” says Strang. “It makes the space feel more honest and gives it character.”
The home is designed with rectilinear frames of varying thickness on two axes, giving it movement and a touch of whimsy. The top floor is framed by white stucco and feels like it’s resting atop the main floor’s Resysta frame, which extends longer horizontally, creating a modular covered balcony terrace that juts out to one side. Beneath that, the home’s solid concrete support is camouflaged by a water feature at a shorter width and the pool lies before it. “In that way, the whole house becomes a base for the top floor,” he says. “It’s expressed as a floating master bedroom, high with the breeze and the best views.”
Margaret Marquez designed the home’s interiors in stark gray minimalism with the intent of melding the rooms into their environment. “Gray is my favorite color to work with,” she says. “The neutrals, taupes and black work so great with the views in this house. It’s meant to be very subtle—a calm place to relax, a soothing spiritual retreat.”
Within her grayscale palette, Marquez curated carefully: The living spaces contain creamy upholstered Liaigre and Walter Knoll sofas and charcoal Artifort ribbon chairs by Pierre Paulin, all atop the main floor’s Stromboli gray porcelain tile. There’s a Glas Italia dining room table, a glass wine cellar, ethereal chandeliers by Ingo Maurer and a modular mirrored wall. The MiaCucina Modulnova kitchen has a monolithic appeal with its gray basalt slab counters and floors, and high-gloss lacquer and wooden cabinetry.
In the master suite, there’s a taupe Saporiti chaise lounge on white European oak floors and a sharp-angled custom white marble quartz bath that practically floats off the balcony and onto the bay. Strang and Marquez agree that the oak floors and golden wood grain Resysta add warmth to the home’s minimalist composition.
Outside, glass balcony rails and the swimming pool reflect light off the bay for a dynamic interplay with the home’s interiors. The home seems to both reflect and absorb nature’s palette. “You see the greens of palm trees and the blues of the water and sky as an explosion of color,” says Strang. “On an overcast day, it reflects a striking monochrome.”
Marquez also advised her longtime client on her art collection, which boasts museum-quality works by modern masters, including Ed Ruscha, Damien Hirst and Robert Longo, adding pops of color to the otherwise minimalist monochrome composition. “This was her first modern home, and now there’s no turning back,” says Marquez of her client. “She loves it.”
Margaret Marquez Interiors
Mauricio del Valle Design
ARTIFORT BY PIERRE PAULIN
Living room ribbon chair and ottoman
Family room coffee table and chairs
Dining room table
Living room chandeliers
Dining room Brno chairs
Family room sofa
Master bed chaise lounge
Family room sofa