ENR Southeast

Moss Tackles Tough Site for New Miami Beach Landmark

April 2023

When Raul Parrinello drives to the jobsite every morning in Miami Beach, he can reflect with pride on what will become the area’s tallest building, the luxury condominium tower Five Park, rising quickly over busy Miami Beach. “I get a lot of questions,” says Parrinello, senior project manager with Moss Construction. “It’s on everyone’s radar.” But as passers-by on West Avenue ask questions about how fast the building is going up, what they don’t see is what it took to get to vertical construction, and what it takes to get those levels just right.

The site has been vacant for years, says Kirk Noble, project executive for Moss Construction. One or two projects were planned on the site and some even started construction, leaving Moss to remove pile caps and other foundations before drilling its first test piles. “Everybody in South Florida in construction is kind of aware of that site because it’s the first big site as you drive onto the beach,” he says. “And now it’s finally going, so it’s pretty exciting.” Noble describes the elliptical structure that’s about halfway to its 550-ft maximum height as “a landmark on the beach,” one that “commands the presence as you enter South Beach.” In total, the 48-story, 1.1-million-sq-ft tower will include 238 units on a tight, 286,000-sq-ft lot, set for substantial completion in fall 2024.

Welcome to South Beach
The building’s elliptical design is the project’s most striking feature, an aerodynamic shape that lets not only the wind, but also the eye flow around it like a classical column, says Bernardo Fort-Brescia, co-founder of design firm Arquitectonica and designer of the building. Its multidirectional design helps equalize views of the beach and the bay while being less intrusive to neighbors’ views, he adds. “From the engineering point of view, it lowers resistance to the wind, lowering structural resistance needs versus a rectangular prism with hard corners,” he says. “The main challenge was the resolution of the interior spaces.” But the interiors are orthogonal, stepping together gently with curvatures that are defined by the terraces, says Fort-Bescia.

 Halfway up, the building is interrupted by a series of rotating glass ellipses that announce the clubhouse in the sky, he says, while the Saturn-like ring floats at the top, announcing arrival to Miami Beach. David Martin, chief executive of the project’s owner, Terra, says the elliptical floorplans represent a nod to the area’s waterfront ecology and unique lifestyle, while the development’s design optimizes and regulates natural light, water quality and heat load. “We’re at the forefront of developing properties that respect the land and culture of a neighborhood while creating resiliency,” Martin says. “Five Park represents a new gateway into Miami Beach.” The elliptical shape equalizes views of the bay and beach while lowering wind resistance.

Staying Ahead of the Curve
Executing Arquitectonica’s vision for the elliptical shape requires careful attention and coordination as the building rises level by level. Crews have had to ensure the 20 or so different radii along the curve are correct to create that shape, Parrinello says. He’s worked on other curved buildings, but none with such a drastic shape as Five Park, with only about 20% of the building perimeter straight. “It was a lot of coordination and  making sure that all the radii were correct on the slab geometry plans and that we had someone in-house and also one of our subcontractors look at that,” he says. Parrinello credits trade partner Fly & Form Concrete Structures for making the design a reality. The building “wouldn’t be where it is now” without Fly & Form, Parrinello says.
Mike Yarber, a project manager at Fly & Form, also credits up-front coordination as the biggest point in getting those curves correct.

There were plenty of questions as far as finalizing or tying in the specific dimensions, but once they were able to coordinate that and approve slab-edge drawings for the tower, he says, it just comes down to “really good layout guys and premade templates.” Because of the radius and the importance of the slab edge, Yarber’s crews have remade the form, which will be used again and again from floor to floor, five different times by Level 25, where work was ongoing as of April 14. The first level with the full-floor radius is Level 7, the first tower level. “That’s a lot,” Yarber says of remaking the form five times. “On a typical high-rise like this, you’ll probably do a whole tower in two or three sets.” The form just gets worn out, he says, as it’s being reused over and over, and given the curvature and the need to get the slab edge perfect, they’ve used physical points measured out every 12 in. to 14 in. across the entire slab edge. Fly & Form has a long-standing relationship with Moss, and Yarber says that as a whole, the market in South Florida is becoming more and more individualized in terms of building style like the elliptical form of Five Park. The tower is Phase 2 of the overall development, preceded by the completed 3-acre park on the site built by a separate contractor and followed by a pedestrian bridge over the MacArthur Causeway to the south, also to be built by a separate contractor.

Meeting The City’s Requirements
Building the tower with such a small footprint also “allowed for the creation of a large park on the balance of the site,” Arquitectonica’s Fort-Brescia says. “It also provides for the much-needed water retention and percolation for the urban surroundings.” The adjoining 3-acre park is “expertly designed to be a green lung for the city,” and includes a bioswale for stormwater collection as a key feature, he says. Water collected there is recycled and reused for the park plants, which also absorb rainwater to mitigate flooding during heavy rains. The project also includes its own sewer lift station on the south side to pump sewer a quarter-mile to the south to connect to a larger sewer line, something Miami Beach required due to the capacity of the existing sewer line at the site, Parrinello says.  He described the sewer lift station as a project within a project. He expects it to take about three months of night work to directional bore that line.

Rising Above Material Shortages
While there’s no social distancing or masking requirements on the jobsite, the COVID-19 pandemic is still making itself known as Moss schedules around long lead times on some equipment and materials. Parrinello points to switchgears specifically, which carried lead times around 12 months, equipment that’s just starting to arrive after about a year.
“So as soon as we got the contract, we already had the electrician lined up and shop drawings were in,” he says. “The generator just showed up, and that was eight months.” The allocation of concrete for the project has been a challenge too, less so today but especially in months past, says Ed Baro, Moss executive vice president and Miami office lead. For the 11-ft-thick concrete mat foundation, crews used a wellpoint dewatering system and placed 4,400 cu yd of concrete in a 14-hour overnight pour. Getting over hurdles like limited concrete availability means leaning on relationships in the market and leveraging Moss’ buying power to make sure they can get the allocations to serve projects, Baro says.

Limited concrete availability has been an industry-wide issue in South Florida, says Noble, and Parrinello adds that for the Five Park project specifically, the dense urban location added an extra challenge. “We expect a certain yardage per hour, and traffic can be terrible,” he says. “If we’re on a four-day cycle that could drastically affect us if we don’t get it fast enough.” Moss has been able to work with Miami Beach for some flexibility on allowing crews to work later in the day to make up some time as well. That’s the solution, Parrinello says: working later, until they’re done. “Once we’re pouring, we can’t stop,” he says. “They’ve given us some freedom there.”

Part of that is allowing Moss crews to perform certain crane work on weekends. Because it’s technically quiet work, he says, they were able to secure special permission for this project. With the building taking up essentially the whole urban lot, crews have also had to work around limited laydown space as well, but Terra, the project owner, was able to secure a maintenance of traffic plan for Sixth Street, Parrinello says, adding an extra 15 ft or so that crews are using for laydown area, without which they wouldn’t have any room to build cages.