Miami Art Museum Bike Art Crawl: Seeing South Beach, From Art Deco to Herzog & de Meuron

The James Royal Palm
Miami Beach is beautiful. With its long, sandy shoreline, lovely climate, and amazing confluence of world cultures, the Beach has gone from a sleepy seaside resort to a world-class city. And in the short history of that process, it has also become one of the most distinctive and fascinating architectural cityscapes on the planet.

Exploring this unique cityscape was the idea behind Saturday's Miami Art Museum Bike Crawl, a four-mile jaunt around South Beach's historic Art Deco District that began and ended at the newly renovated James Royal Palm.

See also:
- The Ten Best Skyscrapers in Miami

Locals are familiar with the art deco style of architecture -- straight-lined symmetry, geometric patterns, pastel paint jobs -- that populates more than 800 hotels, storefronts, and structures in South Beach, according to the National Register of Historic Places. It's a style we know and love. But how well do we really know it?

The tour addressing this very question began by pointing out that no renovations, remodeling, or rebuilding could be done that would damage or deface the original façades of these historically protected buildings. So hotel owners can gut the structures, tear the insides apart, and replace every inch from floor to ceiling, but there's a very strict no-touchy rule when it comes to the exterior walls.

The problem with that rule is that South Beach has a whole hell of a lot more tourists flying in from every corner of the globe than it did in the '30s and '40s, when many of these fairly low-lying buildings were constructed. The James Royal Palm, constructed at 1545 Collins Ave. in 1939, exemplifies the logical solution to this quandary of insufficient vacancy: UPWARD AND ONWARD! Hotel owners for years have been building higher and higher from within the original façades, allowing art deco destinations to remain popular spots for weary travelers and jet-setting executives to hang their hats, rest their heads, and enjoy the Atlantic.

How many floating staircases have you seen?
The interior of the James Royal Palm is shiny and new, with gleaming terrazzo floors, a floating staircase designed by Lauren Rottet -- who curated the Palm's interior design, from throw pillows to the antique green glass reception desk -- and a stellar staff of bartenders serving only the finest hooch.

From the James Royal Palm, tour guides led groups of ten up the boardwalk and over to Collins Park and the Bass Museum of Art. Along the way, one of the guides, Marty Mueller, explained how art deco came to Miami Beach and why our city is such a significant epicenter of the style.

Location Info


The James Royal Palm Hotel

1545 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: General

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