Miami Florida - An Architectural Gem?
A big part of what makes a city interesting as a destination is its architecture. Barcelona, Spain is unique thanks in part to Gaudi, his disciples and the beautiful Art Nouveau edifications they created. Florence, Italy most significant buildings date from Renaissance, but the truth is that there has been a progression of interesting architecture dating back a 1000 years that has made that city a cultural destination.
In the US most architecture does not span so many historical and cultural periods. Nevertheless New York and Chicago dominate the skyscraper arena, and Philadelphia and Boston have among the best examples of early architecture in the Georgian and Federal styles.
Now, here comes Miami; a relatively new city with history that spans decades, not centuries. How can anyone say Miami and architecture in the same phrase, let alone consider it an architectural gem?
Here is why I believe Miami could be considered amongst the most significant architectural cities of the world? There are three reasons why I consider it to be the case.
1. It has a large concentration of buildings in a particular style. In reality it has two well defined architectural styles: Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival in what is called the Miami Beach Architectural District.
Miami Beach contains the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s resort architecture in the United States. These vibrantly colored buildings represent an era when Miami Beach was heavily promoted and developed as a "tropical playground." The buildings constructed in the 1920s were designed almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Revival style, while those built in the 1930s are in the Art Deco, International, or Modern styles. The
Miami Beach district can be divided into three neighborhood types based on function and use --the seasonal hotel area (along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue) with such notable hotels as the Amsterdam, reputed to be a replica of Christopher Columbus' home in Santo Domingo; the commercial area (along Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road); and the residential area (concentrated in the eighty square blocks surrounding Flamingo Park) with one of the largest concentrations of Mediterranean style residences in the United States.
2. It developed its own style of architecture now known as Miami Modernism (MiMo). Originating in 1950s and 1960s in
Miami as a popular response to the various modernist and post-world war architectural movements that were taking place in other parts of the world, adding glamour, fun, and material excess to otherwise stark, minimalist, and efficient styles. Miami Modernism is heavily concentrated in Middle and Upper Miami Beach along Collins Avenue, as well as, along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor starting from around Midtown, through the Design District and into the Upper Eastside.
3. It continues to build structures that will define Miami in the future. In order to be considered a star architect you need to build, have built or have an un-built project designed for Miami. Frank Gehry (New World Symphony), Zaha Hadid (Collins Park parking garage – to be built), Enrique Norten (Flatiron Brickell – unbuilt), Carlos Ott (Jade Beach, Jade Ocean), Herzog & De Meuron (1111 Lincoln), Richard Meier (Beach House – unbuilt), Cesar Pelli (Performing Arts Center), I.M. Pei (Miami Center), Pininfarina (
Millecento) are some of the names that have left or a leaving a mark in the city. We are fortunately going through a surge in quality architecture that will for sure represent yet another significant phase in the city's development history and hopefully be defined in the future as a particular style that defines this period.