In South Beach, an Historic Home is Being Adapted to Retail With a New 'Vitrine' Facade

Gridics Staff January 19, 2016 Architecture & Design, Renovation & Repair, Word on the Street

A small single-family home at 909 Collins Avenue, right in the thick of South Beach, is being adaptively reused as a retail building with the addition of a glassy, vitrine-like space in the house's front yard -- literally encasing the old facade in glass almost like an historic reliquary and creating a vaulted front room -- and a two story retail addition in the back yard.

The design, by architects Shulman + Associates, revives an earlier plan they had for the site with slight modifications to the 'vitrine' itself, according to the architects, including an entrance moved to the side and some changes to details. The rear retail space replaces two townhomes, as had been origionally designed by S + A about eight years ago. Completion is estimated at April-May 2016 and the builders are Emuna Construction. A retail tenant is not attached yet. This is how S + A describes the older design, a description still mostly applicable to its current incarnation (note that the entrance is no longer through the vitrine itself but just to the side):

The historic home, built of masonry walls and wood framing in 1925, sat abandoned and largely concealed by 1951 renovations. It finds new life through careful restoration, maintaining its Mediterranean Revival styling. New, modern additions on the west and east frontages are structured in direct response to their context. A concrete butterfly roof on masonry end walls shelters a glassy two-story entrance pavilion facing Collins Avenue. A glass window-wall transforms the entire frontage into a large vitrine for passersby. Like a jewel case, the new transparent walls display the historic house inside. 

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