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Allan Shulman Brings Old Buildings Back to Life

Refresh and restore: it might sound like the motto for a yoga studio, but it could just as easily apply to Miami-based architecture firm Shulman + Associates. Allan Shulman, who founded S+A in 1996, designs mostly hotels and motels, and has received much recognition in recent years for his work in restoration, renovation, and preservation.

This year, in 2012, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation granted S+A an award for outstanding achievement in the field of restoration/rehabilitation for its work on the Sovereign Hotel and Soho Beach House. The firm also received a 2012 award of excellence for renovation from AIA Florida for the project. The project was also a finalist at the Urban Land Institute’s 2011 Vision Awards, received a 2011 Dade Heritage Trust Preservation Award, and honor awards for design from AIA Miami (2009) and AIA Florida (2007).

The 1941 Sovereign Hotel was designed by Miami architect Roy France, whose works can be found throughout Miami Beach’s historic districts (Sovereign is within the Collins Waterfront Local Historic District). The seven-story building was the last hotel built in Miami Beach before the US entered World War II. It sits on the end of the area’s thirty-block hotel row, filled with midsized prewar structures.

Shulman restored the original building and added a new fifteen-story modernist tower adjacent to its rear, built on an open infill plot. The tower—housing the Miami branch of the private members-only London Soho House—provided additional space while respecting the original building’s patio and other exterior elements. The new tower further complements other postwar International Style modernist additions of nearby hotels. Shulman places great importance on layering in his work, and has done so in many ways here. He has juxtaposed old against new, integrated inside and outside with balconies wrapping around each unit, and playing with light and shadow through the brise soleil (sunshading devices near windows) along the length of the tower.

The original London Soho House was founded in 1995 as a solace for creative-minded members, and locations can now be found throughout Europe and North America. Soho Beach House, which opened in October 2010, is a private members’ club and hotel with fifty bedrooms, two swimming pools, a private beach, Cowshed Spa, and Cecconi’s restaurant open to the public.

In addition to the infamous hotels, Shulman also designs single- and multiple-family homes, retail, institutional, and cultural buildings. Throughout his work, he is no stranger to the great recognition he received for Soho. In addition to being named AIA Miami’s 2011 Architect of the year, Shulman’s firm has received numerous awards for built and unbuilt projects from AIA Florida and AIA Miami, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and Dade Heritage Trust. The latter two recognized S+A in 2011 for its restoration work on the Opa-Locka Airport Hangar 102.

The Opa-Locka Airport was founded by Glenn Curtiss, known as the father of naval aviation. Nearby land served as the second largest training center during World War II, and then in the 1960s, the airport helped transport children from a corrupt Cuba to the US where they could find a better future. The hangar was one of three originally built in 1941 as the Navy prepared to go to war. Hangar 102 was the only one that could be properly restored: the Coast Guard remodeled one into an entirely different structure, and the other was destroyed. Hangar 102 was restored in under a year by recycling original materials and systems, replicating the original paint color and corrugated metal exterior walls, reopening clerestory windows, and applying updated safety and technology. Hangar 102, now fully rehabilitated, is in use as a private airplane hangar.

If it sounds like restoration and rehabilitation are a theme among S+A’s work, that’s because they are. Shulman champions these ideas not only in his own work, but also throughout the profession. He was a co-founder of the Florida chapter of DOCOMOMO (Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites, and Neighborhoods of the Modern Movement), which advocates for conservation and preservation of modern heritage buildings, sites, and neighborhoods, and raises awareness through events, tours, and other outreach.


Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “2011 Award Winners.

Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. “2012 Award Winners.

O’Connor, John. “Miami Beach Has a New Look: Soho Beach House.” Tropic. (February 2012)

Shulman + Associates.

Soho House.