Beyond the Box Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Miami & New York

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MIAMI MODERN Fifty years after its inception, Miami Modern comes into focus, spanning three decades of post-war architecture. As the city grew exponentially, Miami moved from its resort identity to a diversified economy. Industrial parks sprang up. The University of Miami was followed by other campuses, from downtown to the periphery. A small airfield became Miami International Airport.

Resort and apartment districts burgeoned. The advent of air conditioning redefined domestic life as Miami added vast suburbs and a new architectural culture adapted to the car.

As Florida became host to the Space Center at Cape Canaveral, architects parodied jet age styling, the parabaloid arch of St. Louis, but also the stone walls and cantilevers of Fallingwater. Pre-cast concrete, curtainwall skins and jalousie windows were adopted, but often coupled with lyrical and outlandish forms. A 'Post Modern' sensibility took root in Miami years before that term became fashionable.

As with Miami's "Tropical Art Deco", a term embracing a diverse legacy of the 20's and 30's, Miami Modern expands our understanding of the postwar period, now recognized as having fostered an equally eclectic regional architecture. Recent designation of the Collins Waterfront Historic District, and proposed designation of the North Beach Resort District, focus awareness on whole areas of mid-century heritage.

Allan T. Shulman
Miami 2002

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