With this Pergola, One of Miami’s Most Famous Venues Goes Undercover
KE’s Gennius Isola 2 blends high-tech engineering with sleek, contemporary style.
Outdoor space in tropical climates can be a beautiful thing, enabling a restaurant to increase its seating capacity while boosting its bottom line as customers dine under the stars. However, when extreme weather becomes part of the equation, commercial clients need flexible, modular protection that also happens to be visually striking.
Miami’s iconic Villa Casa Casuarina, built in 1930 by architect Alden Freeman, was formerly owned by Italian fashion impresario Gianni Versace, and has been operating as a luxury hotel in the city’s Architectural District since 2015. The hotel needed an innovative solution that would complement the historic beauty of its courtyard. This new covered area would also expand the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant, Gianni’s, so guests could dine outdoors.
When the property owners approached Atlantic Awnings in search of the ultimate retractable awning that could withstand any weather, designer and KE dealer Jose Suarez knew exactly what to propose: KE’s Gennius Isola 2, a new high-tech pergola system. “Even though we’re the Sunshine State, it rains a lot here, especially in the summer; we get two hours of torrential rain a day most afternoons,” explains Suarez, whose team installed the 67-by-28-foot pergola in April. “Because the Isola 2’s structure is aluminum, it won’t corrode. You can open or close it when it rains, and your business continues as usual. You never have to worry about the weather.”
The structure is available either as a self-standing unit, or can be attached to a wall. For additional protection from the elements, the pergola can be closed with drop screens or glass screens. Suarez notes that the product’s roof runs across the top, with dedicated perimeter gutters that channel rainwater into an integrated system hidden in its posts. “Normally, awnings have to lean in order for the water to run to one side,” he says. “Most customers don’t want a lean-to. Because the Gennius Isola 2 system is flat, we installed it higher so you don’t lose visibility of the grounds. The unit is also slightly arched so the water runs towards two sides and doesn’t stay on top. We ran all the gutters into our structure, so that the columns became the downspouts, with the water distributed into the grass sections the structure sits on.”
Mechanically, the pergola operates smoothly with high-quality components, notes Suarez. “The unit’s motorized parts work perfectly; it’s very well engineered, and moves through the tracks so the fabric can open and close with ease,” he says. For clients seeking a high level of personalization, Isola 2 offers a variety of frame and water-repellent fabric colors, dimmable integrated LED lighting and audio wiring options. “The great thing about this product is how you can customize it. The customer can pick colors that blend with whatever decor they have: You could go all white or very modern silver, giving it any look you desire,” says Suarez. The clients especially liked that the pergola’s curved roof echoes the arches in the surrounding pool area.
“It’s completely modular; during the day, the courtyard functions as a terrace for the pool, and guests can enjoy the sun shining on them, and at four o’clock, the area becomes a fine dining restaurant for the evening, so they close up the four sections of the ceiling and turn on the LED lighting. They’re able to convert it very easily,” says Suarez. “Thanks to the Isola 2, they’re now able to rent this area for weddings, special occasions or private functions. The clients love it. In fact, they have other properties, and now they want to see how they can put this product to use at their other hotels.”