In Miami, a Refreshed Motel Bianco

People / Places / August 4, 2011

Sometimes all that’s needed for a re-branding is to freshen up a classic.

Certainly that’s the case for the Motel Bianco near the Miami Design District.  It’s a 1950s hotel that’s been reborn – the result of a collaboration between local firms Den Architecture and Dada Design.  They protected its historic character, but upgraded it to current building codes

The majority of work occurred in the lobby and the courtyard. A minimum of walls and partitions were removed to flood the lobby with natural light, adding tropical tones and retro-modern furnishings.  Original floors were recovered, rather than torn out and sent to the landfill.  Retro furniture came from KMP Furniture in Miami.

The courtyard, once a neglected concrete patio, is now the setting for a lively social scene, with composite wood decking made of recycled plastic milk jugs and sawdust.  Landscaping is comprised of all local and native plants.

Paints throughout are Benjamin Moore Eco Spec, with no VOC.   The motel’s original exterior colors of green and mustard were recovered in white, reducing absorption of the sun’s UV rays as well as the need for air conditioning.  All windows and doors were re-used, with the exception of the original wooden door, now replaced with storefront glass.  Decorative railings and historic motifs were faithfully preserved and integrated into the new design.

With the renovation, the motel has become a boutique lounge, increasing occupancy tenfold, with a diverse crowd of artists and tourists from all over the world.

“It’s all about historic preservation,” said German Brun, partner in Den Architecture.  “We restored it, and by definition made it sustainable.”

For more on Den Architecture, go to http://www.den-arc.com/

For more on the Motel Bianco, go to http://www.motelbianco.com/

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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