Competition Boards: Michael Charter

Michael Charter received Honorable Mention for his Amalgamation project in the 2010 AIA/MBI Design Competition: Miami Beach Hotel.

Amalgamation - Lifted Living:

The term “modular” is too often associated with banality and regularity. In attempts to create striking architectural works, high profile architects are often hired to create buildings which tend to be excessively idiosyncratic, costly (to the environment as well as the community), and victim to rapid obsolescence, begging to be replaced before the duration of the building’s lifespan. Modular building is cost efficient, environmentally friendly, easily constructed and more easily updated. When applied creatively, modular building offers intriguing design potential primarily in the form of tectonic expression, which can be utilized as an educational tool through a project’s presence within a community. Through the implementation of aforementioned principles, I am proposing Lift, a high end luxury hotel and timeshare geared towards serving the contemporary business traveler in constant flux, adventurous baby-boomer early retirees, as well as the immediate community.

The building’s program is comprised of hotel suites encased in two support towers, a bar of traveling time share units spanning between the towers, and a base which encases hotel and open, communal functions. The bar of time share units is the first in a national network of similar structures. Contrary to the typical timeshare model, occupants permanently occupy their unit and periodically move to a new destination via cargo ship or train. A crane permanently fixed to the top of the building loads and unloads changing units, moving them through a void in the lower building mass. The movement creates an active spectacle which can be viewed from the lobby, restaurant, and exterior of the building, drawing attention to the flexible nature of construction. Although they are not in constant flux, the hotel suites utilize the same modular system as the time share units. This creates easier and more efficient construction, while affording an opportunity for major hotel renovations without altering the primary structural system. On the ground level, the hotel offers a lighted path for open beach access, lobby, bar, bike rental service, bike parking, and patio all open to the public. The second level also grants public access with a restaurant, shopping, viewing lobby, as well as community center which can be reserved for classes, seminars, and parties. The pool is located on the third level and reserved for hotel guests. Placing the pool on the third level sun deck at the heart of the structure adds value to the building by affording views and creating awareness of the Miami locale. The pool is also exclusive without boasting its exclusivity to the public as it would at ground level.

Lift is designed with a comprehensive approach to sustainability, meeting the LEED 3.0 requirements (as indicated in the boards). The primary structure is a recycled steel diagrid of repeating lengths and connections in order to consume minimal material. The units themselves are constructed of pre-fabricated steel modules which are outfitted with a variety of plug in, pre-fab panels in order to create optimal environmental conditions depending on context. By separating the units from the primary structure, the lifespan of the building is substantially extended, allowing for continual renovation rather than demolition (as seen by its predecessor).

Lift is an active, educational tool which asks visitors to re-think the stagnant nature of hotel travel while acting as a living example of the symbiotic rather than hegemonic potential in tropical hotel design.


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