Engineering Design

April 24, 2023

Miami is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife and stunning art deco architecture. However, over two-thirds of Miami’s condo buildings are over 30 years old, and many are in need of repair and refurbishment. 

Some need a completely new look. Others need to be restored according to their iconic art deco architecture. One of the easiest ways to accomplish either task is by using a façade system.

In this blog post, we explore the top five benefits of using a façade system to update an older building, including special considerations for Florida building codes.

1. Increased Curb Appeal

One of the most significant benefits of using a façade system is that it can significantly increase the curb appeal of an older building. A façade system can give a building a fresh, modern look while also protecting it from the elements. This can be especially important in Miami, where hurricanes and other severe weather events can cause significant damage to buildings. A new façade can also help attract potential buyers or renters, which can be crucial in a competitive real estate market.

Sometimes, this means the “new” façade system should look “old” – or in the case of Miami, “historic.” There’s a battle to preserve the city’s iconic art deco architecture, which is costly to maintain using the original building materials from the 1930s. Today’s façade systems, however, can use updated building materials such as aluminum and steel to mimic the look and feel of art deco architecture.

A smartly designed façade can provide all the elements celebrated within the art deco style, including everything from iconic window “eyebrows” to its rule of threes, all while virtually eliminating maintenance costs and protecting the original historic building for generations to come.

 2. Improved Sustainability


Another significant benefit of using a façade system is that it can improve the sustainability of an older building, with emphasis in four key areas – energy efficiency, natural light, noise pollution and air quality.

Energy Efficiency 

Older buildings are often poorly insulated, which can lead to high energy bills and a less comfortable living environment. A façade system can provide an additional layer of insulation, helping to keep the building cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. This can lead to significant cost savings on energy bills and a more comfortable living environment for residents.

Natural Light 

Façade systems are also recognized for their ability to maximize natural light. An increasingly important consideration, natural light has been shown to positively impact the physical and mental health of a building’s occupants – reducing stress levels, improving moods, enhancing sleep quality, and leading to an overall healthier lifestyle.   

Noise Pollution 

Finally, façade systems can aid in reducing and in some cases, eliminating noise pollution. Urban noise pollution has become a major environmental health problem, negatively impacting a person’s health. The most common offending “bad noise,” includes traffic, aircraft and construction work.

Several studies have taken place focused solely on the façade’s ability to reduce noise pollution. JB Design can help you determine the best system based on a building’s unique environmental factors.

A great resource to learn more about this topic is the non-profit Façade Tectonics’ paper, Influence of Façade Materials on the Acoustic Environment.

Air Quality

Façade systems are sometimes referred to as the “lungs” of a building. They control inflow and outflow of air, create new ventilation flows, and help reduce on dust and pollutants with air-sealing technology. All this combined can vastly improve interior air quality for tenants.

 3. Enhanced Structural Integrity

As buildings age, their structural integrity can be compromised. This can be especially true in Miami, where most condos line the coast and are constantly exposed to sea air, UV rays and pollution, in addition to hurricanes and other severe weather events that can cause significant damage to buildings.

A façade system provides an additional layer of protection against the elements, creating a physical shield against potential damage from the environment.

 4. Reduced Maintenance Costs

Maintaining an older building can be expensive, especially iconic art deco architecture. A smart façade system can create a protective layer and eliminate repetitive maintenance costs while preserving the original building.

The façade is built according to the latest building codes, which have evolved significantly in the last 30 years. The new structure will require less annual maintenance and be better equipped to handle Miami’s harsh environmental factors, with JB Design’s façade engineers providing comprehensive services including calculating wind loads, coordinating permits and inspections, all according to Florida’s strict building standards.

 5. Low-Impact, Low-Cost Construction

There has been a trend of demolish-rebuild, which is both cost-prohibitive and high-impact, and usually involves changes in ownership. However, updating a building using a façade system often doesn’t even require tenants to vacate the premises during construction. Façade systems can preserve owners’ revenue stream and an aging building’s structure. 


Special Consideration for Florida Building Codes

When updating an older building with a façade system, there are several special considerations to keep in mind for Florida building codes. Here are the three most important:

  •   Hurricane Protection: Florida has specific requirements for hurricane protection including the recently updated ASCE-7-16. When selecting a façade system, it is critical to ensure it meets these requirements.
  •   Fire Resistance: Florida has strict building codes when it comes to fire resistance and any façade system must be designed with fire protection in mind.
  •   Energy Efficiency: Florida has specific requirements for energy efficiencies, especially as it pertains to air infiltration. Façade systems need adequate insulation and air sealing to meet these stringent codes.


To learn more about how a façade system can help buildings become new again, contact JB Design for a free consultation. The company has the experience and the expertise historic buildings require, as well as an illustrious history of working on façade design projects with some of the leading architects in Florida.