This past week I had the opportunity to hear Malcom Gladwell speak at the University of Miami Real Estate Impact Conference. I consider Malcolm, author of five New York Times best-sellers: “The Tipping Point,” “Blink,” “Outliers,” “What the Dog Saw,” and “David and Goliath,” and host of the podcast “Revisionist History, to be one of the greatest social observers and thought leaders of our time. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine and one of the Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers. From the podium, I felt that he was speaking directly to me and underscoring the Allen Morris Company’s mission to Inspire, Impress, and Improve people’s lives and communities with every project we develop.
Years ago, I made a commitment to never build another “box” and to never devote time, energy, and money to a project that did not inspire me. Malcolm said from the data that he has extensively researched, “We now know that people’s well being and choices and behaviors are positively linked to the immediate particulars of their environment…The feelings people have when they are in a space…maybe those ought to be the questions that we start with,” he said, “not the questions we address at the end of the process. Is there a way to build an apartment building that is not just beautiful or affordable, but that brings joy into a person’s life? Not a crazy question…We can ask some really blue sky questions about the spaces we are building.”
Blue sky questions for me are: What deeply inspires me, and what would inspire others? Just last week the Allen Morris Company received the prestigious Toby Award, The Office Building of the Year as selected by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association). This brings to 10 the number of awards for Alhambra Towers our headquarters building on a pie-shaped lot in the heart of Coral Gables, Florida. Alhambra Towers, for us, is an example of a project intended to inspire people with its architectural beauty and art, and therefore improve the lives of people in it and around it. It’s long been known that objects of beauty lift people’s spirits and bring them joy. The city’s founder, George Merrick understood and believed that, which is why he gave Coral Gables the moniker of The City Beautiful. George was a proponent of the ‘City Beautiful’ movement (hyperlink at of the turn of the last century.
We have an opportunity now to integrate beauty, inspiration and functionality in Coral Gables once again as The Allen Morris Company and the Related Group works with the city to replace two obsolete city garages on Andalusa. A lot of thought has gone into the project to create beautiful people places and architecture to drive the economic success of Miracle Mile and our downtown business core. In planning the mixed use development of office, apartments, retail and public parking, we have incorporated spaces where people can celebrate the beauty of Coral Gables. Some these elements include a public café and sky park on the 10th floor of the office building, attractive arrival courts on the ground floors of both garages for valet parking and Uber drop offs, and inviting covered paseos connecting the garages to Miracle Mile. The architecture incorporates George Merrick’s Spanish Mediterranean themes in the office tower and Italian renaissance design in the apartment building including an arch inspired by the Arch of the Republic in Florence Italy. Here are some pictures:
The latest Front Page Editorial in Coral Gables News affirms the importance of Coral Gables City Center and the new public garages.
Our goal with Coral Gables City Center, as it was with Alhambra Towers, is to create inspiring and joyful places for people to gather and be uplifted. As Malcomb concluded in his speech: “We live in places, we respond to places, and we are shaped by places, and the people who build places have a responsibility to think about those issues.”
Here is a one minute video excerpt of Malcolm Gladwell’s speech.