Mateu Architecture Wins 2 AIA Awards


The Awards Gala Dinner Celebration will take place on Friday night, July 21, 2012, during the Annual Convention, which will be held at the world famous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, from July 19-22, 2012. This year, the jury awarded a total of 24 Design Awards, of which only six were Honor Awards of Excellence for Built Work and two received the prestigious Year Test of Time Merit Awards of Excellence.

In the words of Design Awards Jury Chair Steve McDowell, FAIA of BNIM Architects, “These projects were remarkable examples of beauty, sustainability, and innovation.”


Coral Gables, Florida – 25-Year Test of Time Merit Award of Excellence


Designed in 1983, the owners of this furniture showroom carrying classics of modern design wanted a building to showcase a philosophy of “good design as a way of life”. A belief in modular systems led to the choice of a 50-inch module, expressed in the façade, regulating all proportions in the building. The lower ceiling height (100”) allowed furniture arrangements to be viewed at a residential scale. Washing the interiors with soft, reflected light, a central atrium and skylight create a light-filled moment through which customers move upstairs or make their purchases. For fashion shows, the white steel stairway serves as a stage, while its centrality avoids a rigidly defined sequence of showroom spaces. The south façade setback underlines the visual and physical separation available to another retailer if desired, in the same spirit of modernity exemplified by the architecture and the furniture in the showroom. In 1984, the Luminaire Showroom was recognized by the Miami Chapter of the American Institute of Architects with the Award of Honor in Architecture, and by the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects with the Award for Excellence in Architecture. In 1996, the Luminaire Showroom was the recipient of the 10-Year Test of Time Award from the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects. In 2008 the Luminaire Showroom received the 25-Year Test of Time Award from the Miami Chapter of the AIA.

In 1983, the building of such a modern building in the heart of the city of Coral Gables, caused such distress that city leaders moved to create a “Mediterranean Ordinance” in order to entice developers (by allowing them to build more square footage and taller) to choose “mediterranean” architecture while discouraging modern expression.

In Coral Gables, Florida, a city that has committed itself to maintaining a faux-romantic-historic ambiance, the building of such a modern, functional design, straightforward in its use of materials and of timeless attributes, has itself become historic. Today, after over 25 years, the Luminaire Showroom still stands in quiet testimony to the best tenets of a “timeless”, modern tradition.

The KETTAL SHOWROOM, Coral Gables, Florida – Honor Award of Excellence for Built Work. The owners of this outdoor furniture company from Spain wanted to open a showroom in Coral Gables, Florida, their first location in the USA. The site, formerly occupied by Biscayne Cafeteria, was a place of legendary food for many years. It’s location, in the middle of a block, in the middle of Miracle Mile (a six block long collection of storefronts, retail shops and restaurants), makes up the heart of Coral Gables. The design solution is one that celebrates the objects on display. The simplicity of the design is one that says, “Come in and visit,” giving the solution its strength. The transparency of the façade highlights the products on display. Its glass skin is only for containment of air conditioning, allowing light to wash the interior while maximizing the limited street “front” exposure to the outdoor furniture. The large, open showroom plan is gently articulated into three main areas, a response to the company’s three major furniture lines. Tilted walls and sloping ceilings towards “skylights” accentuate the “outdoor” qualities of the furniture displays; further define the space, while allowing maximum flexibility in display opportunities.

For now, the Kettal Showroom stands, among a collection of unmemorable retail storefronts, as a bold and unapologetic statement of modernity, a testament to the values of a still vital and viable, modern tradition. “The store offers a refined street presence, a restrained interior that is well executed to ensure a proper backdrop for the function of retail. The space displays a rigor that is not overwhelming but quiet and complimentary to the conceptual gestures.”


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