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Craig Robins

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Property developer Craig Robins was born in Miami Beach and has been one of the most important figures in his home city's cultural and architectural resurgence.

When Robins started investing in South Beach property in the late 1980s after graduating from law school, the fabled Art Deco district was rundown, derelict, dangerous and facing potential demolition.

Over years of patient renovation -- Robins' Dacra development firm once owned almost two blocks on Ocean Drive -- the neighborhood was gradually restored to its former grandeur as the bars, hotels and restaurants came back to life and the tourists and businesses returned.

Robins then moved on to the neighboring Design District, once again transforming an abandoned and forgotten neighborhood into a creative hub for cutting edge companies, designers, artists and galleries.

His latest project -- and his first development from scratch -- is Aqua, an exclusive island community in Indian Creek built, ironically and perhaps significantly, on the site of the hospital where Robins was born.

Featuring the work of 10 different architecture firms Robins says Aqua brings together the principles of modernism and urbanism.

With its exclusive 100-foot Richard Tuttle mural, Aqua also showcases Robins' love for public art. A keen collector, Robins was instrumental in bringing the Art Basel fair from Switzerland to Miami for its once-a-year one-week residency.

Along with fellow collector Rosa de la Cruz, he also established The Moore Space, a gallery dedicated to "an experimental program of cross-disciplinary exhibitions, performances, artists and curators residencies and public programs."

"Even if we are not aware of it, art changes the way we see things, and that ends up penetrating us consciously and unconsciously," Robins says. "It's very important because, over time, it changes the way we are."


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