Agent of Change

From affordable housing to parks, inside the versatile Fort Lauderdale-based Glavovic Studio

Architecture East Landscape Architecture Studio Visit
Young Circle Arts Park. (Courtesy Robin Hill)
Young Circle Arts Park. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

When Miami clients want a high-profile designer, they often bring in architects from New York and London simply because marketing demands signature international brand names. The developing streetscape of Wynwood, Miami’s Art District, has buildings by scores of important architects from every city but Miami.

But the city has its own, often-underappreciated talent. For example, there is Fort Lauderdale-based Glavovic Studio and its founding principal Margi Glavovic Northard, who has the resume of an architect one would usually find practicing in New York or Los Angeles: She was educated at SCI-Arc, taught at UCLA, and worked for Smith-Miller+Hawkinson in New York before opening her own practice. In Los Angeles, Northard met Robert Mangurian who told her to “go to a place where you can make a difference.”

Taking this advice, she started her Florida firm in 1999. The local projects she cobbled together make her someone who should be better known outside Florida. Northard, who is from South Africa, brings a global perspective and ambition into her practice that attempts to link local ideas, traditions, and needs with a broader international perspective. She said she admires the way Canadian Frank Gehry arrived in California and worked with the local vernacular to create truly revolutionary designs. 

But, unlike Herzog & de Meuron, for example, who practice in the small city of Basel and won the prestigious Miami Art Museum (now Pérez), she does not just pitch glamorous cultural projects. “We are part of the local community that wants to be part of a larger conversation, and we are able to connect them to a global conversation,” she said. Indeed the firm focuses on local public housing, community centers, parks, and libraries because Nothard believes architects are, as she put it, “cultural change agents and facilitators.” She made the conscious decision to design affordable housing because she believes affordability is a broader notion than just low income.



At one affordable housing project, Kennedy Homes, Nothard claimed to have expanded the discussion “from affordable to affordability.”  The design work, she asserted, is about “creating change” with a commitment to design buildings that are “direct experiences.” She said that she was asked to design a gazebo and “ended up doing an artist center for the community” that has enriched the town and region. It would be a sign of Miami’s maturity as a design center, something boosters point to, for her to be given a project in Wynwood, Brickell, or on Collins Avenue.

Young Circle Arts Park. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Young Circle Arts Park. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Young Circle Arts Park. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Young Circle Arts Park. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Young Circle Arts Park
Hollywood, Florida

This 10-acre cultural center is located in downtown Hollywood, Florida. Its park immerses visitors in native landscapes and offers visual and performing arts programming and community activities. Two buildings include the Visual Arts Pavilion, which provides classrooms, a glass blowing studio, metal studio, painting studio, exhibition program, and support facilities, as well as the Performing Arts Pavilion, which contains a stage and lawn seating.

Kennedy Homes. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Kennedy Homes. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Kennedy Homes Affordable Housing
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Kennedy Homes is a 132-unit LEED Gold affordable housing project poised at the gateway to the City of Fort Lauderdale. Its living spaces are spread into eight residential buildings, with three community buildings housed in renovated structures, providing a gymnasium, library, and meeting and leisure rooms. The 8.5-acre site is developed as an expanded green space within an urban landscape.

Girls' Club Collection. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Girls’ Club Collection. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Girls' Club Collection. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Girls’ Club Collection. (Courtesy Robin Hill)

Girls’ Club Collection
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Located on a quiet street on the northern edge of downtown Fort Lauderdale, Girls’ Club is an artist studio, a gallery, a foundation, and a quasi-public space. The 1984 masonry building has a reconfigured facade layered with light, color, landscape, and enigmatic materials that employ local craft techniques and industrial references.

Sunset Hammock. (Courtesy Glavovic Studio)

Sunset Hammock. (Courtesy Glavovic Studio)

Sunset Hammock. (Courtesy Glavovic Studio)

Sunset Hammock. (Courtesy Glavovic Studio)

Sunset Hammock
Tamarac, florida

Sunset Hammock, a public art project in Tamarac’s Sunset Point Park, renders moments in time through increasing intensity and color. It explores the expansiveness of the Everglades through the study of wetland topographies and tectonic forms.

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