Architect and designer Kobi Karp taps into Miami’s past to build its future.
Kobi Karp’s name is ubiquitous in South Florida and beyond. On a casual stroll through South Beach, his logo is found on countless construction sites and his designs have reimagined some of its most magnificent historic hotels. The Israeli-born, Midwestern-raised architect and designer founded his eponymous firm in 1996 with a vision for Miami’s architectural evolution. “As a young architect, I felt Miami had a future and there was opportunity in the art deco and MiMo historic districts to restore and preserve its buildings,” says Karp, founder of Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design (kobikarp.com). “I felt there was an opportunity for me to create a design that’s unique, not only with preservation and restoration, but also with new construction.”
Through the years, he’s retouched the masterworks of famed architects, from Morris Lapidus to Roy France and Russell Pancoast, by restoring their historic properties. “If you can find ways to recycle and reuse these structures, you’re creating an opportunity to live within an urban fabric,” says Karp of his methodology, which also emphasizes sustainable design.
The LEED-certified 1 Hotel South Beach (1hotels.com), which opened in 2015 as a luxurious eco-chic retreat, recycled ipe wood from the property’s original boardwalk to landscape the pool decks and utilized reclaimed Colorado beetle-kill pine in its interior design. “It’s not only green, sustainable and resilient, but from a business standpoint, it makes sense to save energy and water and lower your costs and overhead,” says Karp.
For the forthcoming Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Fort Lauderdale (fort525residences.com), slated for completion by the end of 2020, Karp is tasked with designing a new property from the ground up. Occupying an entire oceanfront city block in a prime location on Fort Lauderdale Beach, construction broke ground in spring 2018. Composed of 130 hotel rooms and 90 residences starting at $3.8 million, the property is positioned as Fort Lauderdale’s first five-star destination with interior design by Tara Bernerd (tarabernerd.com) and Martin Brudnizki (mbds.com) and landscape architecture by Fernando Wong (fernandowongold.com). Inspired by Fort Lauderdale’s legacy as a yachting capital, the architectural silhouette is reminiscent of an ocean liner with glass terraces stepping back from the Atlantic Ocean and tropical-nautical interiors “bringing the outdoor environment into its fabric, finishes and furniture,” says Karp.
As a solution-minded architect, Karp is excited by projects that present unique challenges, whether it’s building parking in the basement and raising the lobby to meet elevation criteria at the Four Seasons in Fort Lauderdale or peeling back layers of renovation made over the years at the historic Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club in Surfside to revive its original glory. “By studying the history and the context, we can find creative modern solutions via cutting-edge design,” he says.
Karp views architecture and design as dynamic, not static. “We have to develop and evolve our designs and urban planning with sustainability and resiliency in mind on an ongoing basis,” says Karp. “As architects, we reflect an ongoing, developing and evolving community and society. We are essentially a mirror of that imagery.”