Parasol House, Miami Beach

Parasol House, Miami Beach

The Parasol House, Sunset IV Island

P E R F O R M E D   U N D E R   W H A   &   A S S O C I A T E S ,   I N C .

Coined a “Parasol” by former Miami Beach zoning director William F. Cary, this two-level residence on Sunset IV Island makes use of a large concrete canopy to shade the primary residence below.

Designed as a speculation home on one of Miami Beach’s most walkable locations. Within several minutes to grocers, shops and restaurants, the residence benefits from being located on a waterway that allows full-sized sailboats to reach the Ocean without lowering their masts. More frequently, the waterway is utilized by twilight paddle-boarders.

The initial design strategy for the Parasol House came about during Professor Guy Peterson’s seminar at the University of Florida titled Florida Modern in 2009. For this project, I reexamined a case study of the course titled the Hiss Residence (Umbrella House) located in Sarasota, Florida. The Hiss Residence was designed by  prominent mid-century architect Paul Rudolph in 1953. One of Rudolph’s earliest and most successful works, the Umbrella House had became one of the major icons of mid-century residential architecture.

Built prior to the incorporation of air conditioning, the north and south walls of the Umbrella House were constructed almost entirely of jalousies. The house and pool of the Umbrella House were shaded from the sun by a trellis structure, which dominated the design and earned the distinction of an “Umbrella”. The hovering concrete slab of the Parasol house works in a similar way by isolating the primary structure of the home from the sun’s heat.

Large spans of operable glass panels at the Parasol House is an ode to the MiMo styling of Miami Beach and is an attempt to replicate the visual effect of the jalousies featured on the Umbrella House in

an effort to provide floor-to-ceiling views of the exterior and a sense of ambiguity between the living space and exterior envelope.

The large, 4,003SF  parasol, or canopy acts to shade the primary residence by completely enveloping the living structure and isolating it from the sun’s rays. By reducing the amount of solar heat collected and acting as a thermal-isolator, the Parasol also reduces the water-carrying capacity of the air inside the living space; reducing loads imposed on air-conditioning. The Parasol house actually consists of 4 bedrooms, 5 baths, dining, great rooms and a large master suite that faces a gigantic 44ft-wide open-air loggia at the 2nd level rear.

Because the energy needed to cool the house was greatly reduced, the Parasol House was permitted much larger window openings than typically found using today’s prescriptive energy code method. The Parasol House employs the use of the latest insulated glass panel technology and are constructed using a special silicone glazing process. Two panes of this special glass are separated by Krypton or Xenon gas to further reduce heat transfer. These gasses are Noble gasses that are clear, odorless, relatively chemically inert and have about half the heat conductivity of the more commonly-used Argon gas.

“The construction of the Parasol house is considered unibodied the primary frame is constructed with heavy slabs and walls that work as a single unit to insulate and protect the Parasol house from wind-borne debris.”
There are no wooden trusses or fascias on the Parasol house. This reduces the home’s property insurance risks and life-cycle costs. Without the wood elements that are commonly used on homes, the Parasol house is neither susceptible to insect attack or decay.

1520 W 21st Street
Miami Beach, Florida 33140

Size: 7,078 sq ft (including covered balconies, loggias and carport).
Builder: Seacoast Enterprises Group, Inc. (305) 233-9445
Engineering: Wilson Structural Consultants, Inc. (941) 907-4789


WHAA is a Full-Service, Third-Generation Firm for Miami Architecture. With a heritage originating in Miami since 1949, WHAA was created by William Hamilton Arthur IV in 2015. WHAA works in Miami’s most diverse and Culturally- Sensitive neighborhoods. Our buildings are Efficient, Environmentally- Sensible and Historically-Minded. Our experience is comprehensive— Our team Designs, Procures and Manages all of our own Construction. Our clients have brought us into all sectors; Restaurant, Retail, Residential, Multi-family, Hospitality, Manufacturing and Aviation.

We are located at 2920 Ponce de Leon Blvd, downtown Coral Gables; the district George Merrick designed for Artists and Architects in 1924.

We have a strong commitment to the Environment— we consider the overall impact on both South Florida’s built and unbuilt Environments. Our traditions of passive energy design, open-air environments and atmospheric transparency came from our research, and were adopted from our roots with prominent Miami Modern (MiMo) architect, Igor B. Polevitzky, FAIA.

We represent a change in the industry— Our Miami firm for Architecture alleviates the need to hire and coordinate additional consultants because we offer comprehensive project design, management and planning. We perform Plumbing, Mechanical, Electrical and Structural design for most of our projects in-house, decreasing delivery and permitting times.
Our projects are effective— A report by Professional Bank, of Coral Gables found that new residential projects managed by us are constructed for about 25% less than the average firm in South Florida.