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Architect Rene Gonzalez’s design creations prove imagination and hard work can accomplish just about anything.


Best of Design & Realty 2018

By Riki Altman-Yee & Luis R. Rigual

Photo by Nick Garcia


Best of Design & Realty

Even the naysayers had to admit Hurricane Irma proved sea-level rise is no joke, though Miami architect Rene Gonzalez has been pumping out brilliant design solutions for climate change for years. Around December 2016 he was working on his first elevated Miami house (at 2038 Prairie Avenue in Miami Beach) and invited the public to experience it; now five more are underway. Soon, we expect the rest of the world will recognize just what incredible talent and clairvoyance he possesses, especially after April, with the release of a hardcover monograph, Rene Gonzalez Architects: Not Lost in Translation ($60, The Monacelli Press), highlighting 14 of his company’s most notable creations, including the first Alchemist boutique, the 18-story GLASS residential tower in Miami Beach and the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. 875 NW Third St., Miami, 305.762.5895

Even with all the amazing starchitect names attached to various Miami structures, one address remains the most coveted by buyers worldwide: One Thousand Museum by Zaha Hadid Architects. “What makes our units so unique is that they are in the first and final ultra-luxury residential skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere designed by the late Zaha Hadid,” explains the property’s co-developer, Louis Birdman. “They are in limited supply as the majority of the 83 units are sold and only a limited number remain available for sale.” Those few remaining residences start at $5.8 million, but for those who appreciate living in a private residential tower with its own private heliport and more amenities than a world-class resort—including a custom scenting program—there are few places like this to call home. Sales center: 1040 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 855.663.6873

Anyone who truly appreciates Art Deco—and Miami has its share of devotees, for sure—knows about Valerio. Established in 1983, the family-owned business has grown in popularity over the years, largely because of its reputation for finding and delivering authentic treasures sometimes dating back to the early 1900s. “It’s our field of expertise,” explains Director Waltford Gonzalez, the nephew of founder Antonio Amado. “We’ve become the trademark for these types of items.” Valerio is not one to stay locked in the past, however, as it has widely embraced Internet technology to the point that now Gonzalez estimates 99 percent of all the company’s sales happen online. But there is nothing quite like visiting the 2,500-square-foot showroom, a museum of sorts, celebrating an era our city once fully embraced and, obviously, continues to cherish. 4212 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, 305.448.6779

Madonna, Cher, Michelangelo—plenty of the world’s greats are known by just one name, and luxury real estate goddesses The Jills are no exception. Since 2005, friends and co-workers Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg have closed more than $3.42 billion together, focusing primarily on multimillion-dollar listings in South Florida. Early in their career they sold Shaquille O’Neal’s property, then Casa Casuarina (aka the Versace Mansion) in 2012, and they recently listed Tommy Hilfiger’s Golden Beach estate, proving no home (or client) is too extravagant for their unique skill set. Being in the biz for a quarter of a century has made these ladies unmatched insiders when it comes to the dynamics of Miami realty, but they have proven themselves nimble and wise when it comes to changing with the times. Coldwell Banker, 1682 Jefferson Ave., Miami Beach, 305.788.5455, 305.915.2556

In this city of myriad secrets, few are as intriguing as Hotel Beaux Arts, the 44-room jewel box hidden high above Downtown within the JW Marriott Marquis. Part of Marriott International’s Autograph Collection, the property is a contemporary art lover’s home away from home—especially for guests who feel most comfortable sleeping among one-of-a-kind artifacts, art-inspired books and works curated by Artscape Lab. (And yes, that complex painting by José Parlá, distorted photo from Roberto Lombana and steel John Henry sculpture are for sale.) Beaux Arts’ recently updated private lounge on the 39th floor, L’Atelier, also maintains the art-centric theme, offering guests complimentary access to the Bauhaus Cocktail Program on Wednesdays for lessons on how to make an adaptation of a classic gin-based Aviation. Cheers to five-star hospitality meeting high art. Rates from $400, 255 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, 305.421.8702