You can't escape history in Miami Beach, where vestiges of former halcyon days document its recurrent ups and downs as one of America's most luxurious resort towns. An on-again, off-again boom, generated in the 1990s, continues to spur the reinvention of vintage hotels built in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s for a new generation of locals and international tourists. The Shelborne Hotel, built in 1940, was one of the finest. Its recent renovation, thoughtfully executed by ADD Inc Miami, is indicative of the iconic district's past, as well as its future.

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The Shelborne, a forerunner of the Miami Modern (MiMO) movement, emanated from a creative flurry of activity between the Great Depression and World War II (during which it was appropriated for the war effort). Singled out in the July 1941 issue of record as 'the most newsworthy' of the more than 40 Miami Beach hotels built over the previous year, the original Shelborne was designed by Igor Polevitzky and his partner Thomas Triplett Russell. More International style than Art Deco, the 14-story, steel-frame building was urbane and gracious, notable for its compact plan with generous ocean views, avant-garde driveway approach, and use of the latest materials: etched clear plastic for a curvy balustrade, and fluorescent tube lighting in ceiling coves. A respectful, eight-story addition by Morris Lapidus in 1958 lengthened the narrow 100-by-400-foot site by more than 200 feet, reoriented the entrance with a neon-lit, circular porte cochere, and supplemented the original 140-room beachfront tower with a ballroom and 103 guest rooms on Collins Avenue.

In 2009, when developer Russell Galbut contacted ADD Inc Miami principal Jonathan Cardello to revive the seaside resort, it had undergone a subsequent 1980s 'upgrade' that reconfigured the Lapidus lobby with the insertion of a row of condos along the building's south side, and enclosed a portion of the Polevitzky patio'compromising the fluidity of the space and blocking daylight. The once-glamorous destination looked tired, dark, and dated, showing wear typical for its 70 years and numerous alterations. It was also losing guests to tony, restored venues such as the nearby Delano.

'He asked us to bring the Shelborne back to life,' says Cardello. The challenge was how to preserve the fabric of the two early buildings, while at the same time modernizing them. 'We needed to look at them holistically, then knit the whole thing back together,' he explains. Seeking the approvals required by the city's Historic Preservation Board, the design team reviewed archival documents, the Polevitzky and Russell plans (on microfilm), and Lapidus renderings to piece together the intent of the original designs. Luckily, the structures were largely intact. The crew repaired structural columns and beams that had been manipulated during previous renovations, brought the building up to code, and redesigned the guest rooms within the existing footprints. They enlarged the diameter of the porte cochere canopy by 22 percent, based on the existing scale and proportion, and raised it to accommodate today's larger vehicles, replacing the neon with color-changing LEDs. Then they opened the lobby to the street with a curved glass entrance, flanked on the interior by a sushi bar and boutique that flow into it.

Since the Lapidus lobby was demolished in the '80s, the designers devised a swanky black-and-white scheme in keeping with the midcentury architect's concept and flair for materials. They replaced existing patched terrazzo floors with the same material, in a mirror-flecked, white agglomerate, and crafted a backlit front desk faced with blue, pearl-like acrylic spheres. Pristine, sheer drapes surround the upper half of the soaring space and conceal the glass-enclosed meeting areas that overlook it, while an obsidian-like black lounge slices through its core to provide a welcome contrast.

A nod to Polevitzky, known for blurring indoor and outdoor boundaries with seamless transparency, ADD Inc broke through an enclosed passage to create a trellis-covered loggia that recaptures the lost patio and directs guests to a new infinity pool. A floating spiral stair '' la Lapidus,' restored upper sundeck, refurbished cabanas, taco bar, and colorful lounge seating boost the resort's allure for passersby'a 2012 priority for popular venues.

'We redefine historic hotels to work for today,' says Cardello. Through good times and bad, Miami Beach has evolved'since its time as the posh getaway of the '40s and '50s'into an increasingly vibrant community. The rejuvenated Shelborne South Beach reflects this transition with a dynamic composition that plays to a broad audience'and from the outside looks like it hasn't skipped a beat.

Total construction cost: withheld

Completion Date:  December 2011

Gross square footage: 
58,000 GSF (project area including exterior improvements)
201,654 GSF (total enclosed building area)
281 Keys



Shelborne Condominium Association and Shelborne Associates



ADD Inc Miami
2 South Biscayne Blvd, Suite 1670
Miami, FL 3131 
305.482.8700 (p) 
305.482.8770 (f)

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:

Jonathan Cardello  -  lead designer, partner in charge (registered architect)

Kevin Terra  -  project architect (not registered)
Alison Smith  -  interior designer (not registered)
T.Jack Bagby, AIA – construction administration (registered architect)


Architect of record:



Associate architect(s):

not applicable


Interior designer:

ADD Inc Miami for the majority of the project
Crème Design at brasserie and cafe



MEP-FP: Steven Feller, P.E. Inc.

Structural: McNamara Salvia Inc.

Civil: HSQ Group, Inc.




Witkin Hults Design Group




CAD system, project management, or other software used:

AutoCAD, Newforma


Structural system




Other: Soprema, a variety of products,



Metal frame:
Glasswall, Series 101 Window Wall System with HC5000 swing door, (storefront system at SW retail and exterior stair)
R.C. Aluminum Industries, HP 3070 Window Wall System, (windows north of main entry)
YKK AP America, YHC 300 SSG-SL, (part of curved main entry system)



Glass: PPG, Solarban 60 Low E

Skylights: Birdview Skylights, round dome (at bubble stair on pool deck)

C.R. Laurence Company, interior butt glazed system with ¾” glass, (at boutique in lobby and mezzanine meeting space)
American Architectural Metals and Glass, structural glazing system, (glass guards at main entry, SW stair, sun deck, and bubble stair as well as railing at main stair in lobby)



Entrances:  Delta Doors, DH-350, (at main entry and pool concourse)

Metal doors: Steelcraft, H-series,

Wood doors: Eggers Industries, flush doors,

Special doors: Assa Abloy, Ceco Doors, (for sound control)



Locksets: Yale,

Closers: Norton,

Exit devices: Yale,

Pulls: Rockwood,
Dayoris Hardware, Supra 462, (at glass doors throughout)


Interior finishes

Suspension grid:  USG, Quadra Crown with Donn DX/DXL suspension system, (at lobby lounge)

Cabinetwork and custom woodwork:  Lignum Custom Design Company, (including, but not limited to: reception desk, sushi bar and banquettes, lobby lounge bar and banquettes, brasserie bar and banquettes, café bar and banquettes)

Paints and stains:  Sherwin Williams, low voc,

Wall coverings: Architectural Systems Inc, ASI Woven Panel Ratan, (at cafe)



Unless Noted Below, furnishings in the brasserie and café were designed by Crème Design and built by Lignum Custom Design Company while all hotel room furnishings were designed by ADD Inc and built by Les Meubles Saint-Damase Inc.
Coalesse, Emu Re-Trouve Seating, (at pool concourse)
Emu, Cantilever #033, (at cafe)
Janus Et Cie, Gigi barstool, (at cafe)
Calligaris Norway dining chair (at brasserie)
ISA International, 1590 Cloe barstool (at brasserie)
thechairfactory, 02867 Q Double Dining Chair, (at sushi bar)

Tables: Arktura, Coral Café Table, (at pool concourse) furniture


Sunbrella, all exterior locations,



Interior ambient lighting:
Century Industries, custom linear crystal chandelier from ADD Inc’s design, (at event spaces)
Spectrum, Maria Theresa chandelier,
Lighting Artistry, 30” chandelier,


LED RGB Ribbon tape


Traxon, Dot 6,
LED RGB ribbon tape

Dimming System or other lighting controls:Crestron,



Toto, UT104E(V) low consumption urinal, (at lobby restroom)
Toto, Auia wall-hung dual-flush toilets, (at lobby restrooms)
Toto, Luminist Round Vessel Lavatory, (at lobby restroom)


Add any additional building components or special equipment that made a significant contribution to this project:

SynLAWN artificial grass, SynFescue 150, (at sun deck)
Resysta Decking, (at sun deck)

Waterplay Solutions Corp, Fluo, (at sun deck)

Tile Tech Pavers, cool roof pavers, (at pool deck)