Chad Oppenheim is possibly the sleekest and stylish of designers, and at 34 years of age, he is also an international award winning architectural visionary.
He received a bachelor of architecture from Cornell University in 1994, and is now the founding principal of Miami-based “Oppenheim Architecture and Design”. When he was starting out at 28 years old, he says “In the beginning you are just glad to get any type of work”.
Within 7 years, Oppenheim has established himself an architectural ‘bravado’ whose forward thinking has made a dramatic impact on modern architecture. An energetic New York City native, he has designed numerous structures, many still in construction, that will soon alter the Miami skyline. His cutting edge works have ranged from single residential houses, to billion dollar Hotel Resorts in Las Vegas. Predominantly, his groundbreaking work on multi-story condominium buildings has carved his outstanding reputation for creating spaces and moments that enhance the pleasures of inhabitants’ lives.
For instance, “Ten Museum Park”, Miami is described as hedonistic, in that it protrudes maximum pleasure and enjoyment on a lifestyle level.
The 50 story crystalline structure has a landscaped sky garden, six swimming pools, outdoor living areas, exotic vegetation, and unique geometric lounge areas providing privacy and breathtaking views of the ever-changing Miami landscape.
“We have tried to inject a more playful, warmer Modernism—doing open lobbies, rooftop gardens, big outdoor pools that capture breezes, creating places for enjoying the moment”, says Oppenheim.
Whilst the outside structure of Ten Museum Park appears to be a typical skyscraper with identical floor plates, the residential levels are intricate and complex. This style is further exaggerated in the new CUBE residential complex, a dramatic building with an elemental structural steel infrastructure that creates the possibility for flexible interior spaces, indeed creating an “interactive building”. Rising 22 stories over the design district in Miami, occupants are able to design their own domain with the possibility of
connecting multiple cube modules vertically, horizontally, and diagonally in addition to creating double height volumes, garden voids and cantilevered living environments.
As architects, we’re always creating infrastructure, but what happens inside is up to the occupant. I love the personalization, and this project [enables] it at the massive scale of a high-rise
building where the buyers have flexibility and control over the final look of the project. There is a definite appeal to me in letting this randomness affect the architecture”, says Oppenheim.
This is typical of the revolutionary ideas Oppenheim has managed to bring to fruition which make his work so unique.
Moreover, Oppenheim is now leading the frontier with his vision for greener, environmentally ergonomic planning. No single building has created such worldwide attention as COR, a 22 story high rise that has propelled him forward as a contender for the title of “Architect of the Future”.
COR is the first sustainable, mixed-use condominium in Miami representing a dynamic synergy between architecture, structural engineering and ecology. Rising 400’ above the design district, COR extracts power from its environment utilizing the latest advancements in wind
turbines, photovoltaics and solar hot water generation -- while integrating them into its architectural identity.
“I hope this sets an example, and I feel it is my responsibility as an architect to create architecture which is self-sustainable”, says Oppenheim. “To me there is no alternative”.
His passion for incorporating a ‘green’ aspect in to architecture, in particular for multi-use residential mid and high rises, is exemplary.
“It is challenging because the heavily marketed sleek style is in contrast to the ‘green’ market. It’s not a marketing gimmick, because the market simply does not care that much. I do it because I firmly believe I have to do it. To me it is a crime that we are reliant on fuels and subjected to the socio economic issues that arrive from importing oil etc.”
“It is my dream that we see it more and more and that the governments will take an interest in this in the future.”
With COR, the architectural and the ecological fuse together in the building’s skin. A hyper-efficient exoskeleton shell simultaneously provides building structure, thermal mass for insulation, shading for natural cooling, enclosure for terraces, armatures for the wind turbines, and plazas on the ground level.
Several upcoming projects, including the 1.5 billion dollar redevelopment of Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas are under the watchful eye of the design world, as they look for innovation and catch a glimpse of the future. Not all of Oppenheim’s designs are ‘green’ or ‘interactive’, however his style is very clear and very obvious.
Describing his own style, he compares to legendary Italian Architect, Alvaro Siza,
from whom he attributes his inspiration.
“He [Siza] has the sensibility to create something in a way that it appears very simple, but is complex in that it accomplishes many things with minimal gesture”.
“What we try to do is Romantic Minimalism, an Essentialism, where everything of essence is left, but nothing else.”