- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: John Carioti
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
Since 1977, Zyscovich Architects has strived to create projects with purpose, bringing new life and vibrancy to cityscapes through integrated urban planning, architecture and interior design. “Zyscovich Architects, over the years, has remained true to the original concept: design projects that have purpose and meaning,” shares Bernard Zyscovich, founder and president of the Miami-based firm.
At first, the firm was a one-man-band. “I worked for another design firm and when my son was born I thought it was time for me to start my own thing,” recalls Bernard. “I was 30 years old and my first child was two months old and I quit my job to start my own company. I must have been out of my mind.”
Nonetheless, Bernard says he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. “It’s been an amazing process to create something from nothing and then to have people of great caliber join me,” he expresses.
Zyscovich Architects is headquartered in Miami, with offices in New York City, Orlando and Bogotá, Colombia. In addition to Bernard, the firm is directed by Jose Murguido, Larry Rosenbloom, Anabella Smith, Mario Suarez and Suria Yaffar, partners. Furthermore, the firm’s success is fueled by 90 planners, interior designers and architects.
Design-specific, socially focused solutions
In establishing Zyscovich Architects, Bernard focused solely on design and private and public sector planning. “Since the beginning, the goal has been to establish a company that can really provide high-value services for design-specific issues,” says Bernard. “We have actually made a conscious decision not to become an engineering or mixed-discipline firm, because we wanted to focus on design and the community aspects of architecture. Social betterment has always been an integral part of my career and it’s important to me that the work we do fosters that. We go out of our way to find that type of work.”
Zyscovich Architects provides urban design and planning solutions that help revitalize and enhance communities. “Our record of creating successfully implemented master plans distinguishes us from other firms,” notes Bernard.
Over the years, the firm has gained vast experience in the public and private sectors. “Zyscovich Architects runs the spectrum from transportation to schools, recreational to master plans for cities,” Bernard explains. “We have expanded into higher education, commercial and a range of public-private partnerships [P3s].”
The firm recently completed six Florida Turnpike service plazas between Pompano Beach and Turkey Lake. “These new stations boast excellent quality finishes with public use in mind so the experience welcomes the weary traveler to stay and enjoy the stop,” he continues. “This project was a unique opportunity to work with The Florida Turnpike Enterprise and a private concession holder to develop land travel that rivals air travel terminals.”
Bernard goes on to explain that on the private side, the firm develops new neighborhoods and commercial buildings, as well as luxury-living high-rise towers and moderate homes, lavish shopping and hotels. “Bal Harbour Shops, home to some of the most affluent brands in the world, retained us to design their expansion,” Bernard details. “Our spaces speak to an experience, and people want to stay in our designs. The Flamingo apartments are another example. With flawless attention to detail and the residential experience, we developed 21st century resort-style living. We truly run the spectrum of diversity in public and private work.”
Masterfully interwoven into an existing fabric
No matter the job, the firm’s approach focuses on generating a plan that is part of the fabric of an existing area. “In our urban design and planning, we try to find what’s unique and authentic about the place and develop a strategy oriented to context and an understanding of the underlying principles already in place,” he explains.
The firm played a fundamental role in turning a former 56-acre rail yard into Midtown Miami. “This major redevelopment involves master planning, urban design and architecture,” reveals Bernard. “Midtown became a catalyst enabling surrounding neighborhoods in this part of the city to emerge as a budding arts center in the case of Wynwood, and in the design district, which is repositioning itself as an urban retail district and is really coming to life.”
In Miami’s South Beach, Zyscovich Architects contributed to the creation of the Miami Beach’s Convention Center redevelopment district. “Considering the conceptual framework of Miami Beach in 1990 to what it is now, we feel proud to be involved,” shares Bernard. “From the Lincoln Cinema movie theater to the museum district, various commercial and retail establishments and the master plan that resulted in the New World Symphony, the Sound Space Public Park and beyond; the sheer scale and impact of the redevelopment is profound.”
Furthermore, in Bogotá, Colombia, Zyscovich Architects played an essential role in the country’s economic and transportation infrastructure development by designing new terminals for the hemisphere’s largest airport, El Dorado International Airport. The firm also revitalized schools and regional airports throughout Colombia.
In fact, Zyscovich Architects is setting the standard in terms of energy efficiency at home and abroad. The firm’s design for Galaxy Elementary School in Boynton Beach, Fla., is targeting LEED Platinum project certification. “This educational facility sets a new bar in sustainability for school buildings,” Bernard explains.
The firm is proud to design 21st century schools for U.S. military installations around the world, commissioned by the Department of Defense Education Activities. Zyscovich Architects’ work is about more than a return on investment, and the firm’s leaders agree.
“When there’s an emotional energy that surrounds a place, it makes me feel like I did something that really touches people and that’s what matters,” Bernard says. “We believe our designs bring enhanced value to a project – both financial and social value. In fact the firm is on the leading edge of health and wellness, not just energy efficiency.”
Bernard explains that the firm recently completed Miami Dade College’s Student Support Center at the Wolfson campus. “The project boasts compliance with forward-looking criteria for health and fitness and is featured in a traveling exhibition sponsored by Fit City,” Bernard says proudly. Currently the firm is extending this wellness concept into multi-generational mixed-use projects on the boards.
In the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, Zyscovich Architects will be designing a new exciting street scene along the frontage of five of the former industrial Watchtower buildings. According to Bernard, the area has spectacular views of Manhattan and New York’s beautiful bridges surrounded by restaurants, art galleries and old warehouses. By creating new spaces for retail and public plazas in sync with the historical character of the area, Zyscovich Architects is creating a new destination for thousands of New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Envisioning better cities for tomorrow
Bernard is deeply passionate about projects that move people and the community; he even wrote a book about it: Getting Real about Urbanism. In his book, Bernard says city development is more than just one homogenized view, but rather a series of interconnected neighborhoods where there is something for everyone.
Therefore, in Aventura, Fla, the firm is designing Park Square Aventura. The mixed-use, multi-generational living community allows families to have it all in a walkable community designed around deluxe lifestyles and personal wellness.
“It’s more about the content than the form and tying it to the history and the character of the neighborhood,” he probes. “Moving forward, our goal is to capitalize on large public infrastructure projects.”
The firm is enthusiastic about the future. “We intend to stay on the forefront of innovation,” Bernard continues. “We plan to stay attuned, to reinvent ourselves as necessary, and to merge our talents continuously adding value to our clients.”
In addition to the normal charitable giving that many firms make, Zyscovich Architects takes it a step further by also creating and translating urban design and architecture that forwards communities with meaningful social purpose.
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