At the Collection in Miami, architect Massimo Iosa Ghini kept up with the Ferraris and Maseratis
Donna Paul -- Interior Design, 2/1/2003 12:00:00 AM
Luxury cars require luxury architecture. Italian architect Massimo Iosa Ghini rose to that challenge at the multi-showroom Collection in Miami. Dynamic, provocative, and stylish, his design displays the curved walls, fluid lines, and streamlined shapes befitting the high-end cars for sale.
Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lotus, Porsche, and Audi all possess strong identities. "The fact that they were all luxury products in competition with one another did not simplify matters," Iosa Ghini concedes. How could each brand remain unique while coexisting with the others at one Coral Gables location—albeit a venue of 350,000 square feet?
Iosa Ghini responded by devising a covered version of the Italian piazza concept: an exterior space incorporating the reception area, car park, and service entrance. A lobby and independent showrooms flow from this core, in a similar fashion to the way in which Italian cities are constructed.
Italian cities are also built with formal, gatelike porte that one must pass through, ceremoniously, to reach the center. (In Bologna, the city of Iosa Ghini's birth, there are 10 such grand gates encircling the center.) For the imposing entry to the Collection, he embedded one strong geometric shape in another. A massive rectangular framing structure fits into a curved glass wall that cants forward and soars to 21 feet in height. The frame itself is 11 feet high, 6 feet deep, and clad in glass mosaic tile.
Inside the lobby, the tile is dominant, its small size especially well suited to wrapping the curved floors, walls, and structural columns. The tile also establishes a neutral palette for the reception area: white, beige, and gray. From reception, the tile floor acts as a subtle road map leading to the separate showrooms. As visitors near their automotive destinations, tile in the color representing each brand identity—red for Ferrari, dark gray for Porsche, and so on—gradually begins showing up in the overall floor composition, pixel-style. "Mosaic is the most ancient material, but it can still evoke modern-day computer imagery," says Iosa Ghini.
Another powerful design element is the glass-sided serpentine staircase that swirls 12 feet up to the Collection's private offices. Iosa Ghini was drawn to this particular form because he felt it expressed a connection to automobiles. As he explains it, "The spiral shape represents velocity, and one associates cars—especially luxury cars—with great speed." On I-95 as well as the autostrada.