Architecture might not be the first thing a person thinks of when considering Miami, nicknamed the “Magic City,” but think of it! More than an international economic and tourist hub, the city is in the midst of a cultural renaissance.
For over 10,000 years, all kinds of people have been living and working there. The interaction among cultures has resulted in a unique assembly of architectural styles. Several different architecture tours are available on foot, by bus, and even by boat.
In addition to the downtown History Miami Museum, visitors and residents alike enjoy visiting the Miami Design Preservation League, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the city’s culture scene as well as the environment through preservation and education. The Miami Architect says it is also home to the world’s oldest Art Deco Society.
The Miami Center for Architecture & Design, housing the Downtown Miami Welcome Center and Miami Downtown Development Authority, offers a gathering space, exhibits, and tours. It focuses on the collaboration of art in architecture with modern life.
The Coral Gables Museum celebrates Mediterranean Revival. Walking tours showcase the beauty of utilitarian buildings such as a former car dealership, a riding club, and even an outdoor theater.
Notable architectural styles in Miami include:
- Mediterranean Revival – Spanish invaders arrived in Florida in 1513. The architectural styles influences becoming popular in the early 20th century featured elements from Italian, French, Moorish, and Caribbean design inspired by seaside villas. Common characteristics include symmetrical facades, square floor plans, stucco, red tile roofing, wrought iron, and courtyards with gardens. The Mediterranean use of open spaces allowing airflow is ideal in tropical climates.
- Art Deco – Appearing in France before World War I, Art Deco combined luxury, exotic materials, exquisite craftsmanship, and vivid colors along with ornamentation based on the ancient art of the Far East, the Middle East, Egypt, and Central America. With the onset of the Depression, the style evolved into sleeker, more subdued designs employing pastel colors, smoother surfaces, and sensual curves.
- Bauhaus – Described by some as “less is more,” the German art school in the first half of the 20th century emphasized the union of mass production and functionality with art. It is usually rectangular, blocky, and geometric, often with rounded corners. Economic to build, it presents with simplicity and strength replacing ornamentation, using concrete and metal.
- MiMo on BiBo – Popular terms derived from “Miami Modern on Biscayne Boulevard, this regional style blossomed after World War II. It is eclectic, flamboyant, and exuberant, incorporating curves, cut-outs, catwalks, courts, and contrasts. It uses a variety of materials in decorative and unexpected ways.
- Modernist – Modernist styles span the 20th century and cover several types of sleek, simple designs, often in low buildings, showcasing modern materials, and incorporating sun and shade with glass.
By its very nature, architecture involves the melding of form with function, governed by its purpose and location. Office buildings built on the seaside in the tropics are no exception. Such structures not only house busy people for long hours but ideally, make a strong visual statement of success and progress. New construction involves detailed safety provisions in case of natural disasters and violence. Other requirements include parking, reception areas, meeting rooms, and accessible bathrooms.
Studies demonstrate that work productivity is greatly improved by providing for human psychological needs. Best practice architectural models incorporate abundant windows for light and fresh air, views of natural scenery, consideration for adjustable acoustics and ambient temperature, and space for indoor live plants. In the 21st century, sustainability factors into new building trends: nontoxic materials, energy efficiency, and adjustable ventilation with science-based filtration systems.
Finally, the concept is outdated for “important” staff to be automatically bestowed with grand private spaces while the labor pool works in a cramped open area. Progressive thinking examines workspace designs most likely to inspire teamwork based on a balance of collaboration with respect for privacy.
No building stands alone but instead becomes part of its neighborhood. Framed by its exciting architecture, Miami is a magical place to work and grow because it offers the best of architectural styles.