Tower of glass to replace Spite Wall

Date: 14 September 2005
Owners of the Fontainebleau plan a modern structure where a 16-story building now stands. Twenty feet away, the Eden Roc wants a new building, too.

The Fontainebleau wants to replace its famed ''Spite Wall'' building with a 20-story angular glass tower with a rooftop pool jutting outward over Miami Beach like a horn.The Y-shaped oceanfront building unveiled at a zoning hearing Monday would become the second of two new towers planned at South Florida's largest hotel.And it offers the first glimpse of the new owners' vision for transforming the 1954 Miami Beach icon into a modern showcase of Las Vegas-style opulence and showmanship.

''This space will become a pilgrimage site,'' Fontainebleau Resorts President Glenn Schaeffer said of the hotel's new spa, which will have its walls bathed in a light sculpture designed by artist James Turrell. ``This will be one of the most important art spaces on the planet. And you can get a massage there, too.''

Schaeffer, the Vegas hotelier behind Excalibur, Mandalay Bay and other casino mega-resorts, said the company would spend $450 million on a new 1,800-room Fontainebleau.

Along with at least a half dozen restaurants and the spa, he promised big-name acts at the hotel's new theater and 50,000-square-foot ballroom, from championship boxing matches to Paul McCartney. Architectural plans filed with the city include a House of Blues, a popular concert-hall chain, though Fontainebleau executives called those drawings preliminary.

But in his presentation to Miami Beach's Historic Preservation Board, Schaeffer emphasized sweeping changes are in store for the 1,340-room Fontainebleau, once the most stylish in Miami Beach.

The original Chateau building, designed by Morris Lapidus, would undergo a significant renovation, while the grounds would be remade into a series of pools and cabana areas. A Versailles-style garden is planned atop of the new ballroom. The renderings of the new tower show a glass-walled pool thrusting out above the building's south wall.

The new look comes as Schaeffer and the hotel's majority owner, developer Jeffrey Soffer of Aventura's Turnberry Associates, try to leverage the Fontainebleau's reputation into a new brand.

600450 Tower of glass to replace Spite Wall
Date: 14 September 2005

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