Kobi Karp visited the Art Deco Museum on October 20th 2022 to discuss his firm’s work. The featured program is part of MDPL’s Art of Architecture lecture series.
Kobi Karp is the Founder and Principal of Kobi Karp Architecture and Interior Design, Inc (KKAID).
Karp, who studied both architecture and environmental design, has worked on hospitality and resort projects across the U.S., the Caribbean, and the Middle East.
His style and technique have been widely celebrated and he’s credited with helping revitalize Miami Beach’s Art Deco District.
“These are beautiful buildings, but if you bring them back and you restore them and you take care of them, it’s like aging gracefully,” says Karp.
For the restoration, the winter resort, once exclusive to high-society members, was reenvisioned to welcome all visitors.
Designed in 1929 by Russell Pancoast in a Mediterranean style, the building was once known for its glamorous private club, which hosted high society members like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, and Winston Churchill.
Karp says the additions and modifications made to the building were based on Pancoast’s original blueprints, integrating its historic elements with Miami’s modern architecture and expanding on its original appeal.
“We use the historic building as our prelude to the new buildings,” says Karp. “Most people desire to arrive at The Surf Club because it was a private club.”
The redesign showcases the central Surf Club building with both hotel and residential towers that invite visitors to the beach.
Part of the restoration process, Karp says, involves transforming the property’s value by honoring its key initial features and acknowledging its history. This approach has contributed to the hotel’s current success.
“So anybody can go in there and see and understand the history behind it. That creates value.”
The Surf Club, says Karp, is representative of his modern approach to architecture in Miami. It honors its past as a luxurious Mediterranean resort and its present as a high-end hotel and residence.
“It’s not the tallest building in Miami, but it’s one of the best,” says Karp. ”And it couldn’t be one of the best unless we were able to bring the Russell Pancoast building back, and then add onto it.”
Karp says part of designing and restoring in Miami is understanding this fine balance: honoring the original intent of the architect and the spirit of the district, which is one of collaboration and synergy.
“The buildings relate to each other, they talk to each other, he says. “They’re done by different architects but the intent is if you look into it and you listen to it and you understand it, is how you potentially can perform a little better.”
To learn more about Karp and his firm’s work in Miami Beach and beyond, check out the full lecture below: