An architect who believes in many views
Miami — ''The view is always the most important,'' insists architect Robert Swedroe. In his 32-story, curvilinear condominium at Williams Island in North Miami, for example, almost every room has a water view. It looks just like a gigantic curved sculpture, sitting there unadorned, perfectly positioned to gaze out in all directions upon the waters of Dumfoundling Bay, beyond to Collins Avenue, and then to the Atlantic Ocean.
Mr. Swedroe, designer of Turnberry Isle, also in North Miami, says the developer of Williams Island insisted that every apartment have a water view. The first of four towers is planned for completion by next March.
While the outside walls are curved, the inside layouts are angled so that each room captures the best possible view. There are window walls in the living, dining, and breakfast rooms for an obstructionless view. Then there are sliding doors from each bedroom, living room, breakfast room, and dining room onto a terrace that sweeps around the whole apartment.
The angled designs are positioned to provide privacy in the bedrooms. But the angles also provide deep usable terrace spaces instead of the typical, narrow, rectangular balconies so common in Miami condos. Nor is it possible to see into anyone else's condo.
Six of the seven apartments on each floor capture a water view, while one has both a water-view terrace and a city-view terrace. The seventh faces the city, but even at that it overlooks a marina.
''A luxury apartment,'' says Mr. Swedroe, ''should have all the features of a private home.'' .
''Space should always be properly proportioned,'' he adds. ''I see some plans that are awkward, inadequate, disproportioned.'' After looking at layouts in the Sunday newspapers, he sighs: ''It's amusing, but half the plans leave out linen closets, kitchen pantries, and the bare essentials of living.''
One of the most common requests he receives as an architect: ''I want you to do for me what you did for so and so, but 10 percent smaller.'' But, he points out, different square footage naturally requires a different plan. ''Below 1,200 square feet it would be impossible to provide an outside kitchen.
''I proceed to develop individual units to be most efficient, maximizing livability within units.''
Even more important is to maximize salable space and minimize nonsalable space. The efficiency of the building depends on providing the most space for the apartments. Elevators, stairs, and halls must be placed properly to take up the least valuable space, but not by making the corridors narrow. Mr. Swedroe insists on using 6-foot-wide corridors.
''I try to design something different in every building,'' he emphasizes. In each design he considers inside layout in relation to outside view. ''The view is always the most important.''
Another new project, not yet under construction, is Chateau del Lago on Lake Eola, in the downtown Orlando section of central Florida. While the property does not directly face the lake, ''the woman insisted that all apartments have a view of the lake,'' says Mr. Swedroe. ''The challenge was to design it so all apartments are angled toward the lake.'' Seven of the eight apartments on each floor have a lake view.
In his condominium designs, Mr. Swedroe also tries to minimize unit types. The Chateau has four types of apartments, for example. ''This simplifies the job , the drawing, and the marketing,'' he maintains.
He is sometimes asked to redesign projects originally drawn by other architects. At Plaza Venetia on Biscayne Bay, for example, he redesigned all the apartments, reworking the internal elements, after construction had begun on the
The structure of the building was already set and the columns in place. ''Leaving the column structure, Mr. Swedroe redesigned the apartment layouts,'' says Hal Lee of Plaza Venetia, adding that ''they gained both in efficiency and aesthetics.''
In his youth Mr. Swedroe had no idea he would end up as an architect. What he really wanted to be was a baseball player.
''I took courses in high school that didn't have any homework so I could play ,'' he now recalls with a smile. ''Drafting arts didn't have homework.''
As a high school senior in the Bronx, however, he won the St. Gaudens Medal of Art, the highest drafting medal in art for New York. Then after graduating from Carnegie Tech in 1958, he won the Eero Saarinen Scholarship Award to Yale, where he studied with Paul Rudolph.
''Rudolph was an inspiration, a motivator, and an innovator,'' he declares. From there, the young architect was well on his way.
Mr. Swedroe's work credo today:
* The building is set at the best angle to maximize the view.
* All main living areas, including the bedrooms, have a terrace view with sliding doors to the terrace. Living rooms always have the best views and the most space.
* Bedrooms are separated on each side of the living areas for maximum privacy.
* Windows and sliding glass doors are angled for privacy and optimum view. The angles provide more usable terrace space.
* All utilities, closets, and bathrooms are situated toward the entrance, thus leaving the prime outside space for the living areas.
* Apartments include everything that would be found in a private home, such as walk-in closets, luxury bathrooms, utility rooms, and kitchen pantries.