NTHP Honor Award Winning Firm: Beilinson Gomez Architects P.A.
By Les Beilinson, AIA | Beilinson Gomez Architects P.A.
My interest in historic preservation was stimulated by my summer experience as an architectural student on a Historic American Building Survey (HABS) team in San Antonio, Texas. I spent 10 weeks surveying and documenting some very unique and interesting building types – a munitions storage facility, cement manufacturing facility, stage coach station, a convent, Victorian mansion, and a modest vernacular riverfront residence – constructed in San Antonio during the mid to late 19th Century. Surveying these buildings is like reverse engineering; drawing them after they were constructed. This process lets you study how the buildings were constructed and designed based on the available technology of their time. You develop a much greater understanding of the design process; as an architectural student this experience was very inspirational.
In 1980 the Miami Beach Architectural District was added to the National Register of Historic Places; a district consisting primarily of a dense concentration of early to mid century low scale Mediterranean Revival and Art Deco buildings. This district is the largest 20th Century historic district on the National Register, and contains over 800 contributing historic buildings. Many of these buildings were either abandoned or underutilized, but were located in a comprehensive neighborhood that consisted of residential, commercial, recreational and hospitality uses. I had only been practicing for a few years when the district was designated, and decided to use my HABS experience to generate architectural work.
The historic designation of this district stimulated interest in redevelopment started in the mid 1980’s. Our first projects were to adapt hotel lobbies to restaurants, and rehabilitation of the guest rooms. In addition, the low property values made it viable to adapt abandoned hotels and seasonal apartments into affordable housing. These projects offered unique design challenges. Adapting new uses and modified spaces within existing structures while maintaining the historic character defining elements, and contending with introducing and integrated modern building systems that never originally existed is a design issue that requires significant study. This is the creative part of historic preservation.
During the past 35 years Beilinson_Gomez Architects P.A. has actively sought historic preservation projects, embracing this architectural endeavor as a way to contribute to the sustainability of the heritage of a community and City. We provide a variety of preservation services, and guide the owner of a historic property through an established framework that saves time and effort and produces an economically feasible design.
The preservation services we provide include:
– Surveying, documenting and researching
– Historic research programming
– Historic certification applications
– Building code analysis
– Develop maintenance procedures
– Building rehabilitation, restoration, conservation, adaptive use
– Evaluation of building materials; occasionally we will use outside testing labs to determine material composition
Some of our staff had preservation experience prior to joining us; we do not make it a requirement. We seek professional staff that have a great passion for architecture, and are willing to absorb knowledge because we can provide on the job training very efficiently. We have been very fortunate to have some interesting projects which keep our staff motivated.
Beilinson_Gomez Architects P.A. has completed over 200 historic preservation projects in Miami Beach. This includes project types such as hotels, apartment buildings, commercial and mixed use structures. We have looked at Miami Beach as an architectural laboratory. The development of the City is clearly evident in its architectural evolution. We have strived to continue this evolution by adopting a philosophy by designing new infill structures with a contemporary architectural composition that fits the context of the historic districts of Miami Beach. Beilinson_Gomez Architects P.A. believes that new structures should reflect the time they are built. We have successfully demonstrated that it is possible to create compatible visual connections with historic buildings and structures built in earlier periods.
Our historic preservation philosophy is that historic building and communities need to be perpetuated by having the ability to adapt as they grow older and continue to maintain their character, and provide inspiration for new future architecture.
We are currently working on two very exciting and important projects:
The Hialeah Park, a grand horseracing track which is a National Register Historic Landmark, originally constructed in the early 1920’s. The grandstand, clubhouse and gardens will be restored to its original grandeur. Although constructed approximately 90 years ago in the Mediterranean Revival Style, the construction technology used is still in common use in South Florida.
The other project is One Flagler, a mid-century modern high-rise office building in Downtown Miami, designed by Morris Lapidus. The challenge of this project is to maintain and restore the existing façade, which is an early glass curtain wall system that does not conform to current building code. View images of Beilinson_Gomez Architects P.A. work.
By Les Beilinson, AIA
Beilinson Gomez Architects