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Tropic_Jan17_eMag_b

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53 T R O P I C M A G A Z I N E IT'S HARD TO FATHOM that a little more than a century ago Miami was no more than a vast wilderness. Coconut Grove is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in Dade County, and it prides itself on a lush canopy of shade trees, exotic vegetation and diverse building styles that make it unique. Like much of South Florida, this once-Bohemian neighborhood has seen its share of mega houses eat up prope rty lines and max out real estate values over the past four decades. Business is business, but it's unsettling to watch raw greed steal facets of soul from a commu- nity with such a rich history of adaptability and progress. New architecture does not need to be reduced to banal, showy buildings that poorly imitate and flaunt historical styles or pseudo- modern "steroid houses" with zero lot lines and ze ro character. The good news is that there are still many thoughtful architects and developers who flourish here in South Florida who want to help recalibrate matters. They are those rare individuals who grasp that the environment and the scale with new building codes must be pondered carefully and deftly executed in order to have meaningful new architecture that will appreciate in value and age gracefull y over time. Amanda de Seta of LointerHome acquired this triple-lot property and enlisted the skills of architect William Arthur IV to design a modernist 3,300-square-foot tree house residence in southern Co- conut Grove. The structure celebrates nature and the life of an ex- isting specimen oak tree in lieu of filling up the land with three residences. "My houses tend to be modern and restrained," say s de Seta. "William and I work really well together and share sim- ilar views on design concepts and building materials. We decided not to have a pool for this residence and to build a Bauhaus-in- 53 T R O P I C M A G A Z I N E CREATIVE CONSERVATION IN COCONUT GROVE When new construction and existing landscape are at odds, what is a thoughtful design professional to do? Text Lloyd Jackson

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