Modern Mansions

Take a drive through many of South Florida’s most upscale neighborhoods and you’ll notice a change in how they look. Where there once was a sea of Mediterranean style mansions and condominiums, you’ll find a new aesthetic ” a clean, fresh modern style.

This trend will come to define the region’s landscape, many in our real estate industry say.

This isn’t your grandmother’s version of modern, designers are quick to emphasize. The architecture doesn’t look as if it was inspired by the space shuttle and the furniture isn’t stainless steel and PVC piping.

South Florida’s current take on modern is defined by clean lines, bringing our picturesque outdoors inside, top-quality organic materials, and amenities that enhance quality of life within our immediate environments.

“There is a new type of modern design evolving in South Florida – not only in residential architecture, but in the enhancements it features that speak directly to living our more modern existence,” says Jay Phillip Parker, CEO of Douglas Elliman, Florida. “The explosion of modern here is in line with the greater appreciation of our environment. It matches beautifully with crystal blue water and sandy beaches.”

Also driving the trend is South Florida’s growing place in the global community, encouraging architects from some of the most design-forward cities in the world to work here, says Daniel de la Vega, president of ONE Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Contemporary architecture is new to us in South Florida,” he adds. “But as we see more of the impressive work of architects like Zaha Hadid, who designed 1000 Museum in Miami, it will become more integrated into the landscape here and may come to define it.”

Architects, such as Alberto J. Comas, who designed an exemplary modern home being built at 38 Pelican Isle in Fort Lauderdale, knows what high end buyers are looking for,” says Michael F. Rizzo of Coldwell Bankers Previews International.  

“Alberto is most popular with today’s sophisticated buyers who demand quality without sacrificing convenience. His homes are designed to allow the flow from the inside to the outside, with such features as glass doors that open completely and pocket out of the way, high ceilings with sky lights or glass ceilings, thereby keeping the home bright,” Rizzo says. “He also accomplishes this by incorporating more natural textures and combines exotic woods and stone with glass and wide open spaces.”

Today’s sophisticated buyers expect their homes to come equipped with innovative and convenient amenities, such as the “smart house” concept, say Pinecrest-based realty agents Hilda Jacobson and Ysha Arteaga of Douglas Elliman.

“This means that most of the important functioning of the home can be controlled anywhere by their smart phones or tablets, and includes everything from monitoring security cameras and alarm to controlling temperature, music, lighting and pool, all with a touch of a button,” Rizzo says. “Sophisticated buyers want clean lines, indirect lighting and large open spaces. Kitchens are more streamline and open to living areas rather than closed in, allowing owners to better entertain with their guests.”  

Desirable kitchens feature chef-quality gas appliances, wine storage and built in coffee machines. In both single-family homes and condos, there are often indoor and outdoor kitchens. In condos, oversized balconies facilitate exceptional outdoor entertaining.  

 “While each of our clients has his or her personal tastes, most are looking for four main features in a home: an open layout, amazing water views, a top-of-the-line kitchen, and an incredible location,” said Jill Eber of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate’s The Jills.

 Buyers” desires have factored heavily in advancing the modern design and enhancement trend locally, as developers more often tailor their projects to meet their specific requests, says Patrick Campbell, vice president of The Related Group. 

This was a key in the company’s new project, Auberge Beach Residences and Spa, a 171-unit beachfront condominium in Fort Lauderdale that it is developing in partnership with Fortune International Group and The Fairwinds Group.

Situated on the 4.6-acre site that is the former home of Ireland’s Inn Beach Resort, Auberge is to be the area’s only on-the-sand luxury residential project. Prices start at $1.8 million at the property, which is due for completion in October, 2017. Its spa, restaurant and resort amenities will be overseen by Auberge Resorts Collection, a luxury hotel operator acclaimed for its resorts that embrace intimate, understated elegance. 

This understated elegance is at the heart of the modern style that is becoming a hallmark of design in South Florida, say Will Meyer and Gray Davis, of Meyer Davis, an award-winning New York-based interior design firm whose portfolio includes 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach, W Hotel Mexico City and Capri Hotel Southampton.  The team is designing Auberge’s interior public spaces to reflect a relaxed, yet elegant, beach-chic vibe using rich, natural materials – making the most of natural light and stunning views.

Views are also the jewel in the modern design crown at 1200 The Ocean in Hillsboro Mile. The 18 architecturally distinctive condominium homes and penthouse residences, designed by renowned South Florida architect Richard Jones, are priced from $895,000 to more than $2.35 million for direct oceanfront residences. Each unit features a sleek, contemporary design with clean lines and casual sophistication, which highlights the one-of-a-kind oceanfront setting.

“We saw many modern design elements become popular throughout the “80s and 90’s, but they didn’t last” says Dan Kodsi, developer of Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach, where units in the cutting edge beachfront building start at $1.2 million. “But this time, I think modern is here to stay.” ?

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky



Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.