Zaha Hadid's 'exoskeleton' tower an instant Miami landmark

by Leila MACOR
1 / 5
Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum building (C, with curved lines) is now the architectural highlight of the Miami skyline

In the heart of Miami, among the towering skyscrapers that rise above Biscayne Bay, the eye-catching new luxury condo building by late star architect Zaha Hadid dominates the skyline.

The unique curved "exoskeleton" design of the One Thousand Museum building has created buzz. The futuristic structure is the only residential space in downtown Miami with a helipad.

The high-rise also honors the legacy of the Iraqi-British architect, who died in Miami in 2016 at age 65, when the 62-story tower was built up to about the eighth floor.

"We felt a big obligation to make sure we got this particular project right because Miami was her second home," said Chris Lepine, who took over as director of the $300 million project after her death.

"She spent a lot of time here, had a lot of friends."

Hadid -- sometimes dubbed "Queen of the Curve" for her love of the form -- was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, and also won two Stirling Prizes, Britain's highest honor for architecture.

Forbes once named her one of the most influential women in the world.

Among her acclaimed projects are Beijing Daxing International Airport and the London Aquatic Centre for the 2012 Olympics.

About six months ago residents began moving into the Miami building -- which has been in the works since 2012.

"We wanted to make sure that we left this landmark of her achievements," Lepine said.

One Thousand Museum -- Hadid's first tower in the Western Hemisphere -- is now the crown jewel of her design firm, which is based in London.

It has 84 units, two pools, a juice bar and the helipad, among other high-end amenities. It is 709 feet (216 meters) tall.

In the gym, a swirling tornado spiral staircase snakes up to the spa.

The penthouses offer stunning views of the park surrounding the Perez Art Museum Miami, the bay and then out to the Miami Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.

The structure's signature curves stand out among the traditional linear buildings near One Thousand Museum.

"There are 360 angles. Why only use one of them? Why only use 90 degrees?" said Lepine, paraphrasing his late boss.

- Form and function -

The building's "exoskeleton," as architects call it, flows from the base to the top of its exterior, and sinks at times between the tower's windows.

That structure is not just for aesthetics -- it is functional. It is made of white fiberglass-reinforced concrete, and allowed the design team to play with open spaces inside, without the need for columns.

"The exoskeleton for us was a real look at how architecture could be synthesized with structure into an overall very elegant expression," Lepine said.

The flexibility and finishing of the novel material used in this "permanent formwork" technique allowed for a fluid look.

One Thousand Museum was developed by Louis Birdman, Gilberto Bomeny, Gregg Covin and Kevin Venger.

Prices start in the $5 million range, and shoot up to $24 million for units that take up an entire higher floor.

Residents hail from about 20 different countries. A handful of apartments are still on the market.

"It has all the basic elements of a residential tower, but I think configured in a way that's very, very clever, very creative and in a way that sort of stands out," Lepine said.

Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum building (C, with curved lines) is now the architectural highlight of the Miami skyline

Late architect Zaha Hadid's signature design features are curves

A view of the swirling staircase at One Thousand Museum

The building has a unique curving "exoskeleton" made of white fiberglass-reinforced concrete

The luxury condo building has four-star amenities