Philosophy Over Style

The visionary changing the panorama of Weston and West Broward. Oppenheim Architecture embodies its founder’s vision: to create one-of-a-kind architectural experiences while minimizing compromise.

By Eric Edelman

Chad Oppenheim’s Bahamas House

Miami-based Oppenheim Architecture has mesmerized the world with its groundbreaking and award-winning architectural projects for over two decades. Film director Michael Bay’s famous L.A. Villa in Los Angeles, California and a sleek seaside house on the Bahamian shoreline are just two of Oppenheim’s countless globe-spanning architectural feats, both of which the firm’s founder cites as the purest examples of his creative vision. With every project, the eponymously-named firm’s founder, Chad Oppenheim, will tell you there is no loyalty to style, but rather, a commitment to a philosophy: a relentless, highly-conscious effort to create something unique while minimizing compromise as much as possible. 


“When I was seven years old, my parents decided to build a custom home. I just remember watching the architects, and I thought it was just the most incredible thing to do. I didn’t know it was a job.”

While Oppenheim the firm was founded in 1999, Oppenheim the man has a much deeper foundation, a foundation partly formed at a kitchen table in 1977. It was here that a seven-year-old Chad Oppenheim first sketched the dream homes he envisioned himself and his family occupying. It was with his self-titled “dream home” sketches that he first broke down boxes and eschewed cookie-cutter notions of carbon copy planned communities that inundated the New Jersey suburbs where Oppenheim’s family called home. “When I was seven years old, my parents decided to build a custom home,” he recalls, “I just remember watching the architects, and I thought it was just the most incredible thing to do. I didn’t know it was a job,” he continues. “So I just started drawing incredible—mostly houses—because growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, that’s what was around me.” 


” I remember my mother gave me a Frank Lloyd Wright calendar, I was moved by the way the homes integrated with their setting, their landscape.”

Despite the predictable surroundings, he was never short on inspiration, which often came in the form of reading material, courtesy of his mother. Rather than scanning Sports Illustrated like most kids his age, Oppenheim’s admired the works of John C. Portman, Jr., Frank Lloyd Wright, and browsed Architectural Digest. “I remember my mother gave me a Frank Lloyd Wright calendar,” he says, “I was moved by the way the homes integrated with their setting, their landscape.” 

“ It wasn’t just about drawing houses; it was about thinking of space and many different kinds of designs.”

Oppenheim pinpoints his midyears of high school as the flashpoint where his foray into architecture would go from mere admiration to hands-on professional experience. While juggling his high school classes and work, he would attend night classes for architecture at the local community college. Professionally speaking, Oppenheim would first go to work for his community college architecture professor, whom he cites as a major inspirational figure. Oppenheim would also attend Cornell University’s world-renowned Department of Architecture starting in his junior year of high school. Cornell would eventually become his alma mater, joining the school’s pantheon of other famed architects including Peter Eisenman. It was at Cornell where Oppenheim’s initial foundation as an architect was broken down and built back up in more of the Cornellian mold. “They broke me down and rebuilt me,” he muses, “It wasn’t just about drawing houses; it was about thinking of space and many different kinds of designs.” Aside from world-class training, Oppenheim would travel the globe throughout his studies, which he further credits to “fermenting his creative vision.”

“ We aren’t thinking in terms of architecture, we are thinking in terms of atmosphere and every unique experience we can bring to the world.”

Combining his eye for design, his natural wonderment, and training at Cornell, Oppenheim began to apply his unique touch. As beautifully and aesthetically pleasing as every project is, Oppenheim emphasizes the importance of functionality, and most prominently, “crafting incredible experiences.” “We aren’t thinking in terms of architecture,” Oppenheim clarifies, “We are thinking in terms of atmosphere and every unique experience we can bring to the world.” To Oppenheim, his projects aren’t intended to be observational or passive; they are dynamic, living spaces meant to be as contextual and alive as the people that inhabit them. Oppenheim accounts for the minutest details, aiming to enhance a space’s natural aesthetics and diminish those that might be weak, which he credits to a “hypersensitivity to everything.” He along with his team always aims to deliver what a client wants while “balancing the pragmatic with the dream.” 

Locally, Oppenheim is currently working on Metropica, a master-planned urbanization project in Sunrise and Botaniko, a unique pre-planned upscale residential enclave in Weston. With every new endeavor, there remains his intentional focus on crafting something new; unoriginality is a bane, no different than the planned neighborhoods of his youth.  



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