Architecture + Design: Vintro Hotel, Fort Lauderdale

The south and east facades of the new Vintro Hotel show off rooms that seem to hover over terraced gardens, and a spiral staircase leading from ocean-view restaurant to the roof-top pool deck.

Architecture + Design: Vintro Hotel, Fort Lauderdale

Text John T. O'Connor

Fort Lauderdale, with its sweeping Atlantic beaches, may be home to an Arquitectonica-designed Ritz-Carlton as big as an ocean liner and a W Hotel that turns heads with its two sinuously curving high-rises. But the city is certainly no stranger to the traveling public's growing love affair with the smaller "boutique" hotel. In fact, The Pillars Hotel on the Intracoastal was just named the #1 hotel in all of Florida by Conde Nast Traveller.

It's really only natural that an urban beach location fills the needs of the traveller who likes the idea of being part of a vibrant pool scene with a hundred revelers a la the W or Marriot Harbor Beach. But in a city like this, which draws visitors who are in love with Fort Lauderdale's relaxed, slightly quieter lifestyle, the boutique hotel is rapidly developing into the lodging of choice.

For Encotel, the developers of a new collection of sophisticated, small hotels, South Beach and Fort Lauderdale were on top of their list as destinations. Encotel has proven themselves to be all business, choosing Tailored Hospitality to run the group. Tailored is the brainchild of Robert Todak and Keith Space, who have experience as varied as New York's Paramount and Miami's Delano under their belts. These two had significant influence which led to the success of The Angler's Resort in South Beach as well as The Betsy on Ocean Drive.

Encotel was also savvy enough to bring in Beilinson Gomez Architects to design both the South Beach hotel (opening in late 2013) and the Fort Lauderdale hotel opening a year later. For Todak at Tailored Hospitality, the goal for both properties is to "revisit the roots of the boutique hotel revolution, (and) recapture the essence of the classic boutique hotel." As the city's reputation grows and International awareness improves, the only way is up. This is where Beilinson Gomez enter to create a first class destination.

Jose Gomez and Les Beilinson took the seeds of the vision for Vintro and turned out a beauty of a design for the slender, infill tower due to rise near Sebastian Street Beach. The architects recognized the vision of the city's Central Beach master plan, and given the tiny footprint, they designed the 15-story structure to have an automobile elevator as well as mechanical car lifts operated by 24-hour valets, avoiding the massive, park-it-yourself mess of earlier buildings. Instead of pedestrians having to stare at a parking garage on the first level of this 70-room hotel, the design team made room for a street-activating cafe with outdoor seating. The garage levels are sheathed in a decorative metal mesh, creating an attractive plinth for the tower above.

According to Gomez, "The client was expecting a meaningful structure that would create an identity for the brand, but one that respected the urban character of the District." The site is a charmed one, to be sure, resting just across A1A from the beach, and two blocks east of the Intracoastal Waterway. The architects oriented the structure to maximize these views and the majority of rooms are positioned to take advantage of this incredible beach vista.

The folded plane "framing" in white concrete is a Beilinson Gomez trademark, visually, a very effective device. According to Gomez, it allows them to define spatial relationships between inside and outside. In their design for Vintro, this particular device introduces a wonderful sense of energy one further underscored by their introduction to tropical colors, used judiciously in voids to enhance the visual experience of the "hovering" volumes. This thrilling bending of the "rules" creates an excitement of the unexpected, one that architect Philip Johnson was a big fan of and might have labeled "safe danger" were he still alive.

The entire facade north, south, east and even west has been given a good deal of thought, and all offer an exhilarating experience, but none more so than the east with its suspended rooms, spiral staircase and exaggerated V-shaped support that runs from floors 8 to 15, giving the hotel a modern monogram. According to the architects, the spiral staircase that juts out of the building between the rooftop pool level and restaurant just below was "...strategically cantilevered to create an aggressive dynamic experience." Mission accomplished. The giant V-shaped support? The design team thought that such a rectilinear composition "...dictated a contrasting statement." Needless to say the folks at Encotel were pleased that the V could be seen from the street as a reference to the hotel brand.

The goal of the design team was to establish a new dialog between the hotel's tropical, South Florida location and the urban character of Fort Lauderdale's Central Beach location. The building's design and informal feel is characteristic of the MiMo period apartments and motels found throughout the Beach District, which often feature cantilevers, spiral stair motifs and glass walls. Beilinson Gomez' imaginative adaption of that tropical modern architectural language one already found on the beach is provocative and is sure to make Vintro a chic, destination hotel.


The hotel's entrance features a waterfall wall and woven metal mesh treatment.


The tower is stepped back from the street above the parking levels, allowing a wrapping plaza with sweeping ocean views.


Even the west side of the tower has an interesting composition with clerestory windows and a reintroduction of the basketweave mesh detail used on the parking garage.

SUE NEIDUSKI, Publisher

JOHN SPEAR, Associate Publisher

JOHN T. O'CONNOR, Editorial Director At Large

HILARY A. LEWIS, Senior Editor

JILLIAN WHITAKER, Senior Editor

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