“For us, the production of architecture is always inextricably linked to the design of cities, no matter how small or large,” Carie Penabad, a principal at CÚRE & PENABAD, said of the architecture and urban design studio, which she cofounded in 2001 with her partner Adib Cúre. “One underlying theme of our work is a conscientious pursuit of an architecture of place. We immerse ourselves in the culture and in the urbanism of a place and then allow that to inform the architecture.”
The work of CÚRE & PENABAD has been perhaps most informed by the magnetic and diverse city of Miami, where their ten-person studio is based. Both principals are also local educators. Cúre is an associate professor in practice at the University of Miami School of Architecture, and Penabad is the school’s associate dean and undergraduate director. Spread across a patchwork of neighborhoods, the firm’s Miami projects mirror the city’s vibrant eclecticism. Early works include Oak Plaza, a public-space project that was the first of its kind for the Miami Design District. It involved the transformation of a disused parking lot into a tree-studded paved space. To the south, in Coral Gables, the studio’s work at Cape Dutch Village, a 1920s enclave of five Cape Dutch–style homes, involved the top-to-bottom renovation of a historic residence.
More recently, the firm has designed a menswear shop that sticks out amid the sea of strip malls and surface parking lots flanking Tamiami Trail. It also created an aromatic temporary installation for the underside of the Coconut Grove Metrorail station dubbed Slow Ride and, in an unrealized project, envisioned a pink-hued dog park and community gathering place named Sela Square in the rapidly changing Little River neighborhood.
Other recent projects have seen CÚRE & PENABAD expand out of southeastern Florida into Latin America, namely Guatemala, where the studio maintains an atelier and has completed a handful of projects in the capital and the nearby city of Escuintla. In the latter, the architects designed a kit-of-parts rural school building, Escuelita Buganvilia, that’s climatically responsive and replicable and serves an urgent need in the community. A collaborative effort, Escuelita Buganvilia was the result of thorough research, mobilization, and coming together with nonprofit partners to “produce buildings, even if they’re modest in scale, that could enhance the collective environment that [the community] has a hard time building on its own,” said Penabad.