Outside In, Inside Out at Miami Beach

When it comes to design inspired by materials, Venezuelan architect Alejandro Barrios-Carrero cuts no corners.

There’s proof enough of that at Juvia, the Miami Beach restaurant he placed atop the ninth floor of a Herzog & de Meuron-designed building at 1111 Lincoln Road, right in the heart of things.

Under a retractable roof, a communal table – actually a 24-foot long slab of petrified wood, previously under water for 500 years – lies alongside a 22-foot high plant wall.  A celestial fountain with wrap-around sofas is situated at the center of the terrace.  Table tops are limestone, and the bar is made of purple amethyst.

“When the elevator doors open, I want diners to put themselves in another place – a place that’s relaxed,” he says.  “It’s a total design experience – there’s not one piece of the restaurant that doesn’t have a view of nature and the sunset.”

It’s 10,000 square feet, seating 100 inside and another 100 on the terrace, with panoramic views of the Miami skyline.  The vertical garden is by French botanist Patric Blanc; seating and lighting are by Patricia Urquiola, Piero Lissoni and Thomas Patterson.  The indoor/outdoor experience, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is unlike any other dining experience in the city.

“When we began, I went to all the restaurants that might be serious competitors,” he says.  “I wanted to come up with a design that’s not common in the design world.”

He named his restaurant after the South American tree that bears the Brazil nut, then inserted a jungle oasis into the white concrete structure.

“Miami, for me, is white, so the color palette is white with gray, brown and purple accents,” he says.  “Plus, there’s wood – a warm material that connects to the beach – on the walls in the elevator and the entrance areas.”

Juvia’s made an impression, in all the right places.  Last week, the James Beard Foundation  recognized it with its Outstanding Restaurant Design award for spaces 76 seats and over.

That comes as little surprise to Barrios-Carrero, who created a restaurant with personality all its own.

“It’s sexy, fresh and timeless,” he says.  “It makes people feel good – they don’t want to leave when they come in.”

He cut no corners – and the results have paid off handsomely.

For more information, go to http://www.juviamiami.com/

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