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Miami Beach

José Gelabert-Navia (World’s great cities)

25 pages
Oscar Riera Ojeda Publishers Llc

Miami Beach is an island where dreams have come and gone, all aspiring to take a blank canvas blessed by benevolent weather and to fashion it according to transient dreams of paradise. The city was incorporated in 1915. Despite the hurricane of 1926 middle class snowbirds, mostly Jewish from New York and New Jersey, began to take rooms in a series of hotels along Ocean Drive and the southern end of the island. These structures were modest in conception and architectural aspiration borrowing motifs from the nascent Art Deco style. World War II would bring relief from the Great Depression.

In the post-war years the city saw a newfound scale in the International Style hotels along Collins Avenue. Morris Lapidus and others transformed the International Style into a baroque flurry to delight a new generation. In 1981 preservationists succeeded in safeguarding many of those original pioneer structures by having more than 800 buildings in South Beach declared an Art Deco Historic District. Unique in the United States, the Art Deco District recognized a community with a history, a scale and a character that continue to thrive today.

Author Bio

Jose A. Gelabert-Navia is a Professor and former Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Miami. A graduate of Cornell University, Jose has been part of the Faculty since 1981. His primary teachingfocus has been in the areas of Architectural Design and History of Colonialism and Globalization in Architecture. He was the founder of the School’s Rome Program and as part of it, he teaches a course in Italian Culture every Spring. Prof. Gelabert-Navia has been the author of numerous articles and has also been a practicing architect, directing the Miami office of Perkins + Will. He has lectured in Europe and Latin America, most recently on the Sustainable Hospital in Brasilia and in Santiago, Chile this year.