Brillhart Architecture

Brillhart Architecture

Miami, FL


The Grass Box

Upscale Restaurant in the Everglades

While Miami is centrally located between two national parks – the Florida Everglades and Biscayne Bay, few destinations exist that lend visitors the opportunity to experience these landscapes in full. This luxury restaurant, set within the wild, subtropical landscape of the Everglades, offers a muted lookout platform to engage the mysteries of this historic national park. Designed as if a waterbird stepping delicately within the grasses and canopy of trees, the restaurant hovers above the wildlife; its openings frame expansive, spectacular views, while patrons enjoying the overlook become a seamless part of nature. Its stilted form also offers a necessary bookend to Stiltsville*, the building’s not-so-distant neighbors in Biscayne Bay.

The project explores the relationship of building and landscape, addressing climate issues by drawing upon low and high-tech building strategies. The building is designed with raised floors, tall ceilings, passing cooling systems and cross ventilation, with fully operable windows and hurricane shutters. Solar panels on the roof supply enough energy for nighttime activities. Meanwhile, the building also considers the effect and implication of building in a sensitive ecology. Minimizing site construction is a must, and as in marine construction, the driving of the piles and the building of the plinth should be a delicate process. The remaining processes are to be fabricated off site, delivered and re-assembled on site.

To enhance the sense of space, retractable translucent veils descend from the ceiling to easily divide the large dining space into more intimate experiences. (This mechanized operable design approach is also deployed in the widow wall shutter system.) Also included is a large oval shaped open bar which anchors the space.

*About Stiltsville – Only seven remaining houses standing on pilings in shallow water make up the Stiltsville we know today. The homes are located in Biscayne Channel – the most frequently used channel south of Government Cut. The shoals or mud flats under Stiltsville are soft mud, partially covered in grass, and the water depth at that location is between 1 to 3 ft deep at low tide.

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Status: Unbuilt
Location: Everglades, Florida
Firm Role: Architect