Miami is an amazing North American city where you can find anything you want. If you want sun and sand, you’ll have it. But if you wanted a 12th-century monastery brought stone by stone from Spain you could have it too. Impressed? Continue reading…
The clear blue water and the white sand beaches are a must-see, but also many of the city’s buildings. Miami’s architectural styles range from playful architecture that reflects its beach and Latin American culture such as Art Deco Architecture and its old Spanish heritage to its modern architecture, the well known MiMo (Miami Modern Architecture) style. If you love architecture you should check this list!
Have you visited these buildings? Which was your favorite? These are some shots of my last visit.
1. The Ancient Spanish Monastery
Location: 16711 West Dixie Highway
Description: This Spanish Cistercian monastery, constructed in the 12th century, is one of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere. Built in the town of Sacramenia (Segovia) and later in 1925 shipped to New York City (structures were dismantled stone by stone, packed in more than 11,000 wooden crates, numbered for identification and shipped to the US) and finally reassembled in North Miami Beach. Read more here.
2. Wynwood Walls
Location: Northwest 25th Street
Architect: Tony Goldman
Description: Created as something big to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood. The Wynwood Walls became a major art statement with commitment to graffiti and street art, a genre that is under appreciated and not respected historically. The truth is that some of these graffitis will blow your mind away, since some of the world’s greatest artists have worked here. Creativity everywhere, and it changes every year. Read more here.
3. Bacardi Building
Location: 2100 Biscayne Blvd
Architect: Enrique Gutierrez
Description: One of Miami’s best icons is this complex of two buildings (the smaller 1974 annex, designed by Ignacio Carrera-Justiz) that serve as Bacardi’s HQ in USA. The architect had previously worked with Mies van der Rohe on the Bacardi HQ in Mexico City, you could tell from the minimalistic sides of the façade. The other two exterior walls are adorned with fantastic blue and white renderings of a tropical paradise, handpainted by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand. Definitely worth a visit. Read more here.
4. Parking Garage
Location: 1111 Lincoln Road
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron
Description: This is one of the best recent projects on Miami Beach, despite being a parking. The structure is the architecture. The car park is an organism made up of a family of concrete slabs, deployed as floor plates, columns and ramps. The best part of it, however, is on the top floor, amazing skyline views from here. Read more here.
5. Lincoln Theater / H&M
Location: 541 Lincoln Rd
Architect: Thomas W. Lamb
Description: I’ll admit I discovered this building by accident, I was shopping at H&M when I realized it had the typical layout of a theatre. Indeed, it functioned as a cinema until the 80s then it was used for performances of the New World Symphony which moved to Frank Gehry-designed building in 2011. While the interior was gutted and refurbished, the exterior restored to its original Art Deco and Moderne appearance. Read more here.
6. New World Symphony
Location: 500 17th St
Architect: Frank Gehry
Description: Wether you’re a Frank Gehry fan or not, this is a project you can’t miss because in terms of design the building’s exterior portrays a quiet, almost tamed Frank Gehry. Directly adjacent to the building is the new Miami Beach SoundScape, a landscaped public space into which New World Symphony extends its programming. Together, the building and the public space create a dynamic new city center. Read more here.
7. Casa Casaurina
Location: 1116 Ocean Drive
Architect: Alden Freeman
Description: This luxurious mansion has gone by many names, including Casa Casuarina, the Amsterdam Palace, and most recently, The Villa By Barton G. But most will always think of it at the Versace Mansion, since it is most famous as the former home and murder site of Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1997. Reopened in 2009 as a boutique luxury hotel, restaurant and event space. The style, Mediterranean villa, makes this place unique on its location. Read more here.
8. Art Deco Architecture
Location: Starts at 640 Ocean Drive
Architect: Henry Hohauser, Albert Anis, L. Murray Dixon
Description: Miami is well known for its amazing Art Deco architecture legacy, built between the 20’s and the 40’s. Most of the remaining buildings are located on Ocean Drive. Make sure you don’t miss these constructions made of rich colors, bold geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation. Read more here.
9. South Pointe Park
Location: 1 Washington Ave
Architect: Hargreaves Associates
Description: If you like landscape architecture, which I do very much, this is a must visit. The revitalization of this underutilized public park transforms it into a neighborhood and regional destination through the integration of diversified urban park programs, regional gardens and restored native habitats, and the connection with urban circulation systems. Also, very nice skyline views from the end of the park. Read more here.
10. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Location: 1300 Biscayne Boulevard
Architect: Cesar Pelli
Description: The Arsht Center consists of two main buildings — the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House and the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall and a tower — connected by an outdoor plaza. The tower from a 1929 Sears store, the earliest example of Art Deco in Miami, was preserved and incorporated into the plaza design. The buildings are punctuated by large glass and steel curtain walls at their entries. However, the most interesting part its on the interior. Free tours are available, so make sure you take a peek to its amazing auditorium. Read more here.
11. Perez Art Museum Miami + Miami Science Museum
Location: Bicentennial Park
Architect: Herzog & deMeuron
Description: Recently opened, this building is the new home to a growing collection of international artwork by some of the world’s foremost artists. A cantilevered canopy creates a series of outdoor spaces connecting the museum with the adjacent park, and offers generous views over biscayne bay. This is another successful project by the amazing Swiss architects. Read more here.
12. Freedom Tower
Location: 600 Biscayne Boulevard
Architect: George A. Fuller, Schultze & Weaver
Description: originally built as the headquarters and printing facility of the newspaper The Miami News. The newspaper went out of business for more than 30 years later, laying the building vacant for some time. When the Castro regime came into power in Cuba and political refugees flooded South Florida looking for a new start, the Tower was taken over by the U.S. government to provide services to the immigrants. Currently used as a museum and a memorial to Cuban immigration to the US. Beautiful Mediterranean Revival style. Oh, don’t miss the AmericanAirlines Arena by Arquitectonica across the street. Read more here.
13. Old United States Post Office and Courthouse
Location: 100 NE 1st Ave
Architect: Kiehnel and Elliott and Oscar Wenderoth
Description: This three-story, Neo-Classical building was the first major federal facility to be constructed in Miami. In contrast to the classically-inspired architectural details, the building’s Spanish tile roof and wide overhanging eaves are adapted for the local climate. In 1937, after the federal offices moved to larger facilities, the building became the home of the first savings and loan association to be chartered by the U.S. government. Don’t miss on the same street Miami-Dade County Courthouse, which got built around the same time. Read more here.
14. Miami Tower + James L. Knight International Center
Location: 100 Southeast 2nd Street
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Description: The tower consists of two separate structures: A 10-story parking garage and the 37-story office tower. The building, which dominates the skyline of Miami, has become one of the most photographed city also because its beautiful, elaborate night-time illuminations. On the other hand, it has the world’s only elevated metro station in a skyscraper, which is impressive. Read more here.
15. 500 Brickell
Location: 500 Brickell
Description: This building is just one of a thousand projects by Arquitectonica in Miami. Located just accross the street you’ll see The Viceroy Tower, and a few miles away you’ll find the Atlantis Condominium all by the same firm. I may not be a huge fan of this formalistic kind of architecture, however, this typology has set a style in the city and Arquitectonica’s towers are now an icon of Miami. For instance, these two buildings which were designed as twin towers, and rise 426 feet (130 meters), with 42 floors. Read more here.
16. Colonnade Plaza
Location: 1201 Brickell Ave
Architect: O. K. Houstoun, Jr. & H. Maxwell Parish
Description: When built in 1926, it was originally home to The Mark Store building in Miami. In the 1980s, it received a facelift and became Metromall. Not much is known about this little jewel on Brickell Ave but to me it looks like an amazing white and modern cathedral. If you ever visit it, let me know what you think. Read more here.
17. Espirito Santo Plaza
Location: 1395 Brickell Ave
Architect: John Pedersen Fox Associates PC (KPF)
Description: This is an icon of Miami that you’ll see many times in the city skyline. Its façade features a striking concave shape. The original geometric design was achieved by the result of the intersection of a rectangular section and a specific area of a cylinder, overlapping both, and thereafter, and to give it its characteristic shape end. Amazing skyline views from the restaurant on the 25th floor of the Conrad Hotel. Read more here.
18. Simpson Park Hammock Pavilion
Location: South Miami Avenue and SW 15th Road
Architect: Oppenheim Architecture + Design
Description: Simpson Park Hammock’s history dates back to 1913 when residents requested that 5.5 acres of native hardwood hammock be preserved as a natural area. Since then there have been many highs and lows and this new pavilion structure, by Miami architect Chad Oppenheim and Swiss landscape designer Enzo Enea, was part of the first phase of a public/private partnership to revitalize this historic park and return it to the community. This is probably one of the most peaceful places in Miami. Read more here.
19. Little Havana
Location: SW 8th St. and SW 12th Ct
Description: This little Cuban district, often called Calle Ocho, has one of the most authentic latin atmospheres. Don’t expect extravagant street art or people wearing costumes, it’s not about fancy dresses or crazy artists but about the atmosphere. If you want to taste some local culture, take a peek at Maximo Gomez Park and you’ll meet local artists, watch cigar rollers, and listen to traditional Cuban music. To me there’s nothing better. If you love good food, you’re on the right place too. Read more here.
20. Biltmore Hotel
Location: 1200 Anastasia Ave
Architect: Schultze and Weaver
Description: This is one of my favourite buildings in Miami. Going inside its wall is like being in a movie from the 30s. The Mediterranean Beaux Arts style, brings you to a beautiful time when women wore red lipstick and men smoke cigars. For a number of years it had the largest swimming pool in the world (famous picture from here) but it is best known for its great architecture details. Check the lobby main stairs for example. If you like Spanish architecture, don’t miss the Coral Gabbles entrances around the area. Read more here.
21. Venetian Pool
Location: 2701 de Soto Boulevard
Architect: Phineas Paist + artist Denman Fink
Description: The pool was created from a coral rock quarry, where much of the original coral rock was used to border and further accentuate the pool. In its early days, the “Venetian Casino” was the destination for many celebritiesbut it was also a site for orchestrated concerts, in which the pool was emptied so the orchestra would perform on the pool bottom. What makes this place special though, are the loggias, porticos, palm trees and signature bridge. Read more here.
22. Villa Vizcaya
Location: 3251 South Miami Avenue
Architect: Hoffman Burrell
Description: You’ll wonder what this 18th century Italian Renaissance-like villa is doing here. Well, it was built as a winter residence for businessman James Deering who had a very fine taste. Interiors are simply amazing and the gardens appear as a dreamlike vision in the midst of the jungle on the shores of Biscayne Bay. I’ll never get tired of coming here over and over. Read more here.
23. Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
Location: 11200 SW 8th Street
Architect: Bernard Tschumi
Description: Last but not least, the architecture school of the list (I always include an architecture school on my lists, can’t help it). The building is named after former FIU trustee Paul L. Cejas, who (ahem!) donated $2 million in support of the School of Architecture. Beautiful use of ceramic tiles in tones of yellows, oranges and reds. Design was focused on creating a communal space as a way to activate the student body and promote discussions and interactions, so don’t forget to visit its interior too. Read more here.
This list could keep going forever, so if you want more amazing architecture check these and other amazing buildings of Miami on the map below or download my Free Architecture Guide of Miami.