Emirati luxury developer Damac international has submitted a pair of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) designs for a condo project on the site of the Surfside collapse. The small town north of Miami Beach, which is home to fewer than 6,000 residents across 0.56 square miles, is home to one of the worst residential building collapses in U.S. history. On June 24, 2021, a large section of a Surfside condo tower that had been deteriorating for years collapsed, killing 98 people.
Plans include a 12-story condo building with 57 units ranging from 4,000 to 15,000 square feet and a 100-foot rooftop pool spanning over the atrium connecting the two wings of the building. Units will have views of out to Downtown. ZHA has provided two designs for the project, with alterations between the two based on how the city interprets planning ordinances; in one design, one facade sets back from the street at each level, and in the other, the facade remains flush to the street throughout the elevation.
The facade’s form is inspired by the ebb-and-flow of the ocean, and its design is consistent with the firm’s other residential work. The renderings show extended, curving balconies, which shade levels below—a move the firm considers a reinterpretation of Miami Modernist design. ZHA director Chris Lepine said that, like the firm’s other work, this design is a “very specific assimilation of its unique context, local culture, programmatic requirements and intelligent engineering.” The project is the firm’s second in the region after the One Thousand Museum.
Since the collapse, the question of a memorial site has been embroiled in local political debates, especially once Damac (whose portfolio is mostly in the Middle East) purchased 8777 Collins Avenue for $120 million in July 2022. Lepine said: “We are honored to have been chosen for this very special project. While no work of architecture can ever remove the pain of the past, nor should it, a truly ambitious work of architecture can respect such a significant site.” While architecture cannot remove the pain of the past, it can be respectful of it, whether a memorial for the collapse victims will be located on the site is not a sure thing.
In March 2022, then-mayor of Surfside Charles Burkett lost reelection to Shlomo Danzinger. Danzinger ran on a platform that embraced Surfside’s growth, including holding developers responsible and implementing “individual concrete pour testing, as well as materials testing and superior material standards… to ensure the continued safety of our residents.”
Danzinger traveled to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in late 2022, to meet with Damac representatives. The mayor claimed that he had discussed incorporating a memorial into the site with Damac, though nothing been formally announced. However, Danzinger had previously said that while a memorial would be welcome, it was out of his hands as the site was in new private ownership. The city had designated a site north of the collapse for a memorial, though many of the victims’ families were not satisfied with this, and other Surfside councilmembers had called for part of Damac’s lot to host the memorial—on the site of the collapse itself.
Project representatives told AN: “The Town of Surfside has been working closely with the Memorial Committee and recently announced a permanent memorial will be placed on 88th Street.”
The prior version of this article was updated to include additional information regarding a memorial from project representatives.