First National Bank of South Miami



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First National Bank of South Miami

The First National Bank of South Miami asked Chael, Cooper and Associates, to redesign a building that the bank owned adjacent to their building. This one story building was originally part of the urban fabric of the downtown of South Miami in the 1930’s. In recent years the building had been used as office space for a firm of attorneys. With our consultation the bank decided to redesign the building to support several comparative retail merchants to help the reviving downtown retail environment.

By adding a new section of leasable space to the courtyard and opening the solid street front walls we increased the exposure for the future tenants to the shopping public and changed the proportions of the courtyard to retain the open character of the sidewalk/street experience.

The original building was constructed at a time when there were few structural requirements. As construction progressed we discovered many structural items were missing from the existing building such as tie columns, beams and footings. Fortunately, there were weekly meetings with the owner, contractor and architect where project progress and unanticipated complications were discussed and resolved with all parties in agreement.



 This project included many considerations of:

  • “New Urbanist” designs (windows facing the street and buildings built to the sidewalk edge to define the public space).

  • Historic consideration of the original design intent of the 1930’s and

  • Forensic architecture (the investigation of the structural components since no original plans existed). Also, many assumptions such as the size of footings had to be adjusted when in the excavation process no footings were found.

The project today is a successful and popular retail shopping area in the South Miami downtown area.


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