Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read june 2021 — Reinaldo Borges, principal and CEO of Borges Architects says his firm has had a busy year across Miami. In an interview with Invest:, he discusses what makes the county such an attractive destination, and how this attraction has resulted in a plethora of new construction projects. He also discusses the importance that projects must place on sustainability.
What were some lessons learned from the last year for Borges Architects?
It’s been a crazy year for the world, but we’ve learned a lot. From a business point of view, architects tend to be optimistic about the world in general. We were able to stabilize the business after the beginning of the pandemic, when a lot of people didn’t know what was going on and there were a lot of projects canceled. But there was a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainty in the development world is always a bad thing. We didn’t know what the end of this pandemic would be like in terms of how we were going to be designing hotels differently and multi-family differently. Despite that uncertainty, which has by now stabilized somewhat, we continued to acquire projects in the sphere of destination/resort, luxury living, corporate work and multifamily. We’re also expanding a lot on the affordable side, working with a national group on affordable housing projects. We’re also doing boutique condominium work and mixed-use projects with some commercial corporate office. Corporate offices were in question last year as people wondered if they were going to return to the office. The answer is yes. Right now, there’s an office construction boom, especially in places like Miami Beach. I’m an executive board member at the City of Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, and one of the things we’re talking about is stimulating corporate office buildings and spaces in the market. People would love to have an office in Miami Beach. It’s a healthy environment and it diversifies the economy!
Why should a person or a company relocate to Miami right now?
It’s a wonderful environment with a healthy Biscayne Bay and healthy beaches. I see urban infill continuing to be a necessity. It’s not really an option. We need to infill the urban grid and we are doing that really well. We continue to see that. It has complexity, but that is something that drives us as well. It’s part of our culture to deal with complex issues. You have to look at water and sewer connections and traffic and transit issues and all the things that urban infill brings to the fore. You know for sure that Wynwood, Midtown, Design District, even Miami Beach, are still very attractive areas and continue to see growth. We’re really taking a multidisciplinary approach to design. Now, what are the projects that might see greater demand and changes in the industry? It was unexpected that this pandemic would have a positive effect on the corporate office or co-working environment. Co-working is no longer just for the young millennials. We’re seeing co-working become more of the norm of how we do office. It gives us great flexibility. Coworking allows you to adjust your capacities and it offers a great office experience.
What were the key takeaways from the pandemic?
There’s a greater consciousness than ever of how we live, work and play. We’re always trying to find a balance, and everyone wants to go back to something that is like normal. But, through this experience, we’ve realized our sociability as a species. We like to come together, mix and exchange ideas. Mixing in an urban environment inclines you to be a greater contributor to humanity. So, health, wellness and the flexibility factors have become key. We realize now that we could be working wherever we have our laptop, as long as we have good internet infrastructure. That’s fundamental. To meet that here, we’re installing 5G, high-speed internet all over. There are some aesthetic concerns about that with all the antennas, but, overall, I think that Miami is keen to invest in this infrastructure, and that is a good lesson learned from the pandemic.
How has sustainability affected your design?
You can create great environments through clever uses of shade where, in spite of our, at times, oppressive heat, you can still feel comfortable outside. We know of passive ways of doing that without investing in a lot of air conditioning. A lot of times it’s just about creating great shade. That’s a very sustainable way of using space. Whenever you can get cross ventilation, a few fans here and there, and some shade, there are fabulous results. We’re always looking at those things. Encouraging and practicing sustainable design and construction practices? Yes, yes, yes. The future has changed for us. Climate change is here. We all have to have that in our mindset. It’s no longer optional. We are also designing with overall resiliency strategies in mind.
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