April 2, 2012

In 1978, Loretta H. Cockrum founded Foram Group to provide fiduciary real estate services to high-net worth families. The firm's holdings at the time were primarily farms, ranches, and timber properties, and within the next decade it was managing more than 250,000 acres of timber and farmland in Georgia, South Carolina, and Colorado.

By 2005, its business plan dictated the vertical development of some of its most prominent land holdings, so Foram Group added key management personnel with experience in construction and vertical development. Over time the firm expanded its building-management capabilities while reducing its reliance on land holdings, and today it specializes in property acquisition, development, management, and leasing.
Foram Group’s latest project is the 600 Brickell office tower and public plaza. Hailed for its sustainable elements, leading-edge technology, and energy efficiency, the LEED Platinum-certified structure is one that Cockrum, now the firm’s CEO, considers her legacy.

By Frederick Jerant

At 534 feet, the office tower at 600 Brickell Ave. in Miami is one of the city’s tallest commercial structures. And, unlike most of the city’s office space, 600 Brickell is a steel-frame building.

“Concrete columns are popular in Miami,” Cockrum says, “but steel construction is more energy-efficient. And although it was more expensive at the outset, its increased efficiencies will more than offset the extra cost.”

To that end, the building has already been precertified as LEED Platinum. “That’s extraordinary for an office building of this size,” Cockrum says. “Only 13 others in the world have attained that level.”
Although many aspects contributed to the precertification, 600 Brickell’s water program is especially significant. The building collects all rainfall and condensate from the cooling towers in a 10,000-gallon tank, and it reuses the water primarily for irrigation and makeup water for the fountains. “If we collect more than we can use,” Cockrum says, “we pump it directly into the local aquifer.” Cockrum adds that an engineering study determined the practice reduces demand on the municipal system by three million gallons per year

Completed in August 2011, the 40-story skyscraper already houses Crédit Agricole Miami Private Bank (the private banking division of the Crédit Agricole Group, the largest banking organization in France), and it should soon be home to law firms, private wealth-management companies, and similar concerns. In fact, all of its 614,000 rentable square feet is slated for exclusive use as office space—except for the ground floor, which will be dedicated to retail shops and restaurants.

A key attraction for prospective tenant companies is 600 Brickell’s extremely high level of connectivity. Cisco Systems provided direct connection to the regional network access point for fast and continual Internet access. In addition, the building offers campus-wide Wi-Fi with seamless scalability and a digital antenna system for maximum cell phone coverage. “This will be a real boon to any kind of firm that has extremely large bandwidth needs,” Cockrum says. “It’s the most-connected spot in Miami.”

The structure’s parking arrangement is also a bit unusual. “Instead of using portions of the three-and-a-half-acre site for parking, we built an 861-space parking pedestal beneath the building but still above street level,” Cockrum says.
Foram Group also created the adjoining 30,000-square-foot Brickell World Plaza, a user-friendly oasis in the heart of the area’s financial district. It will be home to various dining options, which will be complemented by gardens, a fountain (including a 60’ x 50’ cascading water feature), a huge pergola with shaded seating, and a hard-wired performance stage. “There aren’t many parks in downtown Miami,” Cockrum says, “and we’ve made an after-work destination site—right in the heart of the financial district.”

The public plaza also features some subtler touches, such as audio speakers in all of the planters. “When we play soft music for the patrons, it spreads the sound around,” Cockrum says, “and keeps it at an enjoyable level.”

Also, numerous stainless-steel hand railings have hundreds of colored LEDs beneath, which spill soft light onto the walkways. Cockrum says a computer program controls the more than 1,200 shades of light available, allowing the plaza to be dressed in holiday colors or for other events.
Even in these early stages, word about the glamorous facility is spreading. According to Cockrum, “We already have been contacted by groups for photo shoots, fashion events, and TV and movie locations.” ABQ