Office in the Grove, 2699 South Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove

Sited on tall green berms overlooking the intersection of 27th Avenue and South Bayshore Drive, the elegant 9-story Office in the Grove tower designed by Kenneth Treister, FAIA, marked an important step in the evolution of Coconut Grove as a modern business and residential center. Its
compact form set amid greenery and art meshes business culture with the Grove’s relaxed lifestyle and historical landmarks. Immediately to the east on the other side of Bayshore Drive is the Miami City Hall (formerly Pan American Seaplane Base and Terminal Building, Delano and Aldrich, 1933; renovation R. Heisenbottle, 2001), and the group of hangars of the old Coast
Guard and Pan Am Airlines (1923-1930). The terminal and the hangar buildings are historically designated. Immediately to the west is the late MIMO Coconut Grove Bank building by renown architects Weed & Johnson (1960). A bit more to the west is the Yacht Harbor Tower, an important condominium building characterized by a unique relation to the street and deep balconies shading the apartments (Kenneth Treister, 1975). Further in the center of Coconut is the Mayfair in the Grove complex (also by Kenneth Treister, 1979-1985). Completed more recently are, directly adjacent to Office in the Grove, the first double-tower apartment structures by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels (BIG).
The siting of Office in the Grove is unusual and part of its importance and attraction. Grass berms, crisply set on battered concrete plinths and capped with a concrete planter, hide three floors of parking. Taking advantage of the sloping site, the three level of the garage are entered from different points, thus making the interior ramps unnecessary. At the same time, the
combination of berm and sloping site eliminates the traditional parking pedestal common to modern structures in Miami.
The pentagonal tower rises above on concrete pilotis. It forms a prow-like mass oriented the Dinner Key marina. At the top, double-height open portals on the east and west side provide commanding balconies. The facades are defined by the orderly rhythm of narrow precast
concrete window frames, colored in warm hues of sand. Bronze-tinted glass panes are set deeply within each frame, thus creating a system of vertical brises-soleil that provide sun and hurricane protection, and create an attractive texture of shadows. The main entrance to Office in the Grove
is gained through a sharp pie-shaped incision in the structure with a steel and glass canopy for rain protection. This incisive design not only allows light to penetrate into the center elevator core but also allows persons waiting for the elevator an unobstructed view of Biscayne Bay.
Treister’s unique and Miami version of the “synthesis of the arts” is strongly on display. Outside, the poured-in-place concrete of Office in the Grove has bas-relief designs, examples of integral ornamentation, as well as a bronze sculpture of birds nesting at a fountain. The theme for Office in the Grove was the flora and fauna of the Everglades. This process was repeated later in the designs of Yacht Harbor Condominium and Mayfair in the Grove. Inside, Florida’s flora and fauna are cast into features of the lobby, including bronze sculpted elevator doors and interior panels,
carved mahogany front doors, and a 16-foot high mural.
Office in the Grove should be preserved as a testimony to the City’s architectural heritage, not only because it is an outstanding, award-winning example of postwar architecture, but also because it responds positively to five of the eight criteria established to be granted historic
designation. Moreover, the structure is in optimal condition. The exposed exterior concrete, whether as prefabricated panels or as exposed poured-in-place concrete, has beautifully matured. Like most exposed concrete structures in South Florida, this method of construction is quite tolerant of the climate and environmental conditions and does not require
more maintenance than traditional painted stucco.
Office in the Grove was awarded the Building of the Year Beautification Award from the City of Miami’s Beautification Committee in 1974, and was featured in the 40th Anniversary Edition of Florida Architecture, in that same year. Office in the Grove was featured in the book Miami
Architecture: An AIA Guide Featuring Downtown, the Beaches, and Coconut Grove by Allan T. Shulman, Randall C. Robinson Jr., and James F. Donnelly (University of Florida Press, 2010).

Written content provided by Docomomo/Florida.