During our short time in Miami, Billy and I went on the Art Deco Walking Tour with the Miami Design Preservation League. We met our guide, Paula, at the Art Deco Welcome Center where she gave us a brief overview on the development of Miami Beach. From mosquitos, to avocado farms, to military training, I never realized how little I knew about Miami.
Art Deco (shortened from the French term Art Decoratif) is a style that was popular between World War I and World War II. Our first stop on the tour was the Congress Hotel where we dived right into learning about architectural details. For example, the ledges above the windows, called eyebrows, were not just for aesthetics. They were used to shade windows and keep rooms cooler prior to air conditioning. Egyptian motifs, like the wavy lines and fountains on top of the building, were often used for ornamentation.As time passed, some styles became more streamline. In addition to the long curving lines, nautical elements were also common. For example, porthole motifs or cruise liner inspired balconies were used.
New construction cannot be a direct copy of anything that exists, but at the same time it must also blend in. Above you can see how the old portion on the left and newer portion on the right look really similar, but are not the same.
In addition to Art Deco (L), we also saw a couple examples of Mediterreanean Revival (C) and Miami Modern architecture (R). Mediterranean Revival was popular at the same time as Art Deco. It was a way for people to bring the Mediterranean seaside to the United States. Miami Modern (aka MiMo) evolved out of Art Deco and included the usage of geometric patterns. For example, the walls of the balconies on the right are made up of circles and provide both privacy and ventilation to guests of the hotel.
This Mediterranean Revival mansion was inspired by a home in Santo Domingo that was built under the son of Christopher Columbus. It was once owned by Gianni Versace. Apparently this is the second most photographed house in America. Can you guess what the first is?