Elysee Blog

Bernardo Fort-Brescia: Roots in Miami – and Renowned Throughout the World


If you’re at all familiar with luxury architecture, then surely you know the name Bernardo Fort-Brescia. Originally from Lima, the famed designer studied in both Peru and Europe before coming to the U.S., where he studied architecture and urban planning at Princeton, and received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard. Westin New York


Soon after, Bernardo Fort-Brescia began teaching at Harvard, then accepted a position at the University of Miami in 1975. His studies and experiences – both internationally and here in the States – inspired Bernardo Fort-Brescia to form his own architectural design firm, which he ultimately did in 1977.


Having began 40 years ago as a small studio in Coconut Grove, Arquitectonica is now one of the premier firms not only in the Unites States…but in the world. With more than 850 architects, Arquitectonica has designed properties in nearly 60 countries, including residential towers, hotels, resorts, retail and entertainments centers, convention centers, arenas, corporate headquarters and museums.


Arquitectonica has, essentially, redesigned Miami – receiving praise for the city’s modern look, one that is instantly recognized and admired around the globe. In addition to its Miami headquarters, the firm founded by Bernardo Fort-Brescia also has offices in New York and Los Angeles, as well as eight international locations in South America, Europe, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.


No matter where you go, the names Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Arquitectonica are synonymous with luxury. Those names carry tremendous prestige throughout the City of Miami – and their designs are renowned throughout the world.


Miami Modernism


“Extravagant,” “flamboyant” and “glamorous” are a few words that are often used to define this regional style, which was introduced in the years following World War II. When you think “Miami architecture,” this is the style you envision, and nobody has perfected it over the past four decades quite like Bernardo Fort-Brescia and the team at In fact, one of the firm’s designs – Atlantis Condominium – was featured in the opening credits of the TV show Miami Vice, the 1980s detective drama that helped establish the city as one of international renown.


Here are five that stand out:


  • AmericanAirlines Arena (Miami)

    Opened in 1999, this waterfront venue is one of the most spectacularly-designed arenas in all of sports. Home to the Miami Heat, the arena has hosted five NBA World Championship series and it’s where legends such as Lebron James, Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade went to “work.” This iconic structure – an Arquitectonica marvel – features large pearly white, curved walls and a grand glass main façade. Surrounded by palm trees and other native foliage, the AmericanAirlines Arena has captured the hearts of Miami residents and the intrigue of designers around the world.


  • Westin Times Square (New York City)

    Located on Eighth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, this magnificent luxury hotel features a glass curtain design and serves as a true focal point of New York City’s trendy theater district. In a city that has seen it all, it can be a challenge for buildings to stand out. With that in mind, Bernardo Fort-Brescia and his team at Arquitectonica designed a 45-story glass tower that not only boasts a variety of colors, but also a beam of light that begins at the hotel’s base and shoots skyward…into the New York night.


  • Dijon Performing Arts Center (France)

    As stated earlier, Arquitectonica’s designs are not limited to the U.S. – they can be seen and experienced across the Atlantic as well. The Dijon Performing Arts Center is one of Paris’ premier entertainment venues, and the look and feel is precisely what you’d expect from the Bernardo Fort-Brescia-led firm: sleek and modern, perfectly marrying curvature and pointed edges to create a true Parisian masterpiece. The use of glass, windows and strategically-placed art put the finishing touches on the exterior of the Dijon Performing Arts Center. Pure luxury awaits inside as well.


  • S. Embassy (Peru)

    Arquitectonica creates more than luxury high-rises, resorts and hotels. The firm was also tasked with designing the U.S. Embassy in Bernardo Fort-Brescia’s native country, Peru. Nestled in the heart of Lima, the multicolored stone, brick and tile structure stands as the hub for America’s diplomatic relations with Peru, and is set amidst the country’s majestic mountain ranges. The design is among the country’s most distinguished, and it was a remarkable opportunity for Bernardo Fort-Brescia to create such a prominent structure in the very town that launched his architectural journey.


  • Elysee Miami

    Currently under construction, this 57-story luxury tower will serve as the latest addition to the Miami skyline, and while its look is deemed “discreet” by some and “bold” by others, there’s no denying it is immediately recognizable as an Arquitectonica design. The firm has redefined modern Miami, and Elysee — offering a picturesque view of paradise — pays tribute to the city of today, while also propelling it into the future. Elysee Miami is a collaboration between Bernardo Fort-Brescia and world-renowned interior designer Jean-Louis Deniot, who will add an elegant “classical contemporary” flair to this waterfront wonder.

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