The building was completely renovated between 2009 and 2010 by Room Mate Hotels and its owner. The renovation project was very complex and meticulous, but above all, it was respectful. The aim was to enhance the original elements and update the hotel, improving its facilities to make them in line with present day standards. The lack of historical documentation and original plans made this task more difficult.
Original Waldorf Towers plans. Their low quality made it difficult to analyse the original elements.
Efforts were made to respect original distribution as much as possible. The shape of the building, its use and the number of rooms were maintained, and the reception and bar were placed in their original locations.
The terrazzo floor both on the outdoor terrace and in the reception was completely restored. Some areas, which were damaged by rather reckless acts, were rebuilt following the original designs and copying their colours. The day that the restoration and polishing finished, it seemed as if the space had grown, and the mix of continuous floor and large windows all made sense.
The exterior balustrade, which had partially disappeared, was also reconstructed. To do this, moulds of the pieces that had survived were taken, and using these, the entire length of the original balustrade was built.
The interior wooden staircase was polished in order to restore and clean up the wood, which was then painted using the original colours. The original iron railings were also completely sanded and painted. The few damaged areas were also repaired and made secure again. This way, the original elements still have the same role as they did when the hotel was first built.
The original Otis-branded lift and its doors were restored by being sanded down and painted. The ironwork was restored and some pieces had to be custom built. You would love to see part of the original machinery that is still working.
The original lettering was particularly damaged by the aggressive outdoor environment; therefore the letters were changed for others with the same design, typography and size, but in anodised aluminium in order to cope with being exposed to the sea air and the neon lights that are traditional in Miami Beach.
An Unexpected Surprise
There were also unpleasant surprises. Woodworm was found in some parts of the wooden structure. This was solved by isolating the affected area and treating the wood by wrapping it. It was impossible to treat some pieces, because of their size or location, and so they were replaced.
Two reinforced concrete pillars were found which had suffered from corrosion. Here, the rust was taken off the frame and it was treated with an anti-corrosion product. Later, a mortar (a two-component epoxy resin) was applied, in order to ensure the grip of the new concrete cover.
A Pleasant Surprise
Among the worries and burdens that the delays and cost overruns caused, suddenly: a pleasant surprise! When taking away some plasterboard that was in a bad condition in the lobby, some glass blocks were discovered under a window that had been covered up for an unknown reason.
The other windows were checked and these glass blocks were underneath them all. When looking at the original plans, despite their bad quality, it could be seen that they were in fact original elements. Their unexpected discovery meant that more light came into the lobby, making the space brighter and full of life. It also became easier to understand why these same blocks were underneath the tower, rather than those being the only ones.
Moving the bar and the reception gave way to another surprise: Anis had drawn the shape of the bar on the terrazzo floor. The lack of original floor plans meant that this surprise was not discovered until the old reception was removed. For this reason, the new furniture does not exactly match the drawing on the floor, allowing visitors to discover the old trace of the furniture that spread along two areas.
Ramón Fernández López, Architec.
In Memoriam de Pepe Tena