Ocean Home 50: Brillhart Architecture




Photo by Claudia Uribe

Miami-based Brillhart Architecture is borne out of a love for and facility with “making” things. In the natural course of development, tectonics, materiality and the logic of construction have become a primary focus of interest.

Relying on a back-to-basics approach, principals Jacob and Melissa Brillhart often study old models for future buildings, marrying archetypes and prototypes with new materials, fabrication and construction assemblies – all the while placing heavy emphasis on process as a means of furthering creativity and invention.

The goal is to create a contemporary and dynamic building vocabulary that resuscitates the Ancient, celebrates the Modern, and foresees an architecture without big style.

Though the firm works on a diverse range of projects – including residential and commercial architecture as well as exhibitions, interiors, furniture, and other speculative research projects – a pragmatic building vocabulary, emphasis on tectonic potential, and ideas of craftsmanship are the common threads that link each project together.

The office also embraces a very hands-on, “knowledge-how” ethos that extends beyond design.

Engaged in low-budget competitions, installations, and personal endeavors (such as their own Brillhart House in Miami) early on, the husband-and-wife architects grew their firm by conceiving, designing, fabricating, assembling and constructing many things themselves.

Simply by having to figure things out, they have become highly resourceful: regularly collaborating with outside disciplines; learning to maximize structural and material efficiencies; and seeking creative solutions to details that may be outside the industry defaults.

As a result, the firm has won numerous awards for design innovation, including American Institute of Architects awards in 2008 and 2010, and competition winnings.

Their work has been featured in leading homes and design publications, including Ocean Home, and their custom furniture pieces have also been included in the annual design show, Inventory, held during Design Miami and Art Basel.

The firm was founded by Jacob Brillhart in 2005, after he completed his Masters in Architecture from Columbia University. Jacob complements his practice by teaching design, freehand drawing, and architectural theory as an Assistant Professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture.

A Gabriel Prize finalist in 2006 and 2007 and a finalist for the 2010 Rome Prize in Architecture, Brillhart has also served as the Favrot Visiting Assistant Professor at Tulane University.

For more information, www.brillhartarchitecture.com

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