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Ugo Colombo: Miami’s Master Builder

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From the white-hot nightlife of South Beach to the bustling business center of Brickell on Biscayne Bay, Miami has always been an in-demand getaway for the world’s rich, famous, and powerful. But did you know that over the past two decades, much of the look of this cosmopolitan seaside city has been shaped by just one man. Those who love looking at the gleaming skyline set against azure waters have Ugo Colombo to thank for the Magic City’s magic.

An Italian by birth but a Miamian at heart, Colombo has developed some of the world’s best properties from boutique hotels to luxury homes like those at the Brickell Flatiron. Born in Milan, Colombo grew up amid the fashion and finesse that the Italian city is known for. He then studied at boarding school in Switzerland. And he finally made his way to Miami University in 1983. Perhaps these sleek shapes and silhouettes of the well-heeled residents of such cities gave him a taste for structural design.

Whatever the inspiration, his bent toward building showed itself right after college when he began flipping foreclosed properties from the FDIC. This ultimately led to him reclaiming distress properties with potential in Miami. His early work highlights not only his excellent business acumen but his desire to help make the city more vibrant by changing the landscape of neighborhoods that needed it.

To find Colombo’s magic touch in the Magic City, one only needs to look as far as the Brickell neighborhood (and then look up), a location where his buildings Villa Regina and Bristol Tower turned around the once-floundering community and turned it into the center of commerce, culture, and cuisine it is today. These iconic structures adhere to Colombo’s edict that glass and metal are more aesthetically pleasing than concrete for large buildings.

If you need any proof of his influence, just take a look at the Brickell skyline where you’ll see glass tower after glass tower reflecting the sea and sky. However, not one of these towers is more beautiful than one of the newest — Ugo Colombo’s own Brickell Flatiron.

Designed by Luis Revuelta, this tall structure undulates mimicking the waves of the ocean. Its curves allow for spacious cantilevered terraces that overlook the entire city and the water. Colombo’s own penchant for luxury is fully expressed at the Brickell Flatiron: custom designed kitchens, floor-to-ceiling windows, Italian-made fixtures, and sweeping views are all a part of the tony interiors. Colombo made sure the common areas were just as luxe with public spaces designed by fellow Italian Massimo Iosa Ghini.

The Brickell Flatiron certainly won’t be Ugo Colombo’s last mark on the Miami skyline, but it may be his most important and indelible one.

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