The Ten Best Art Deco Buildings in Miami Beach
South Beach, in the decades since its boom in the '30s and '40s, has grown into a full blown cesspool of touristic masturbation and a parade ground for this city's local breeds of yeyo. In spite of this, it has also remained one of the most beautiful and architecturally enchanting slivers of Miami-Dade. And while South Beach may be home to a range of architectural styles from Mediterranean to MiMo, none are more associated with this city's image than Art Deco.
South Beach was reborn in Art Deco. After the vicious hurricane of September 1926, which utterly razed the city, wrought havoc, and left some 400 dead, Miami Beach saw a building boom that lasted the better part of 20 years. That era of rebuilding focused primarily on resurrecting the fledgling resort community in the chic new style that had come out of the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, which would be shortened simply to 'Art Deco.'
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Now, South Beach is home to over 800 Art Deco structures, according to the National Register of Historic Buildings, making the main drags of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue a fascinating pastel spectacle. And while the scores of three-story hotels that compose that list may start to seem ubiquitous after a certain point, they all have their fair share of aesthetics, personality, and charm. Here are ten buildings among them that carry an especially great deal of all three.
10. The Webster
1220 Collins Ave., Henry Hohauser
Designed in 1939 by Henry Hohauser, one of the master architects behind the urban landscape of South Beach, the Webster's ornate plaques and its perfectly symmetrical shape, filled with neon and bearing a straightforward geometric composition, are essentially archetypical of Miami's iteration of the Art Deco style. This former hotel has been re-envisioned as a high-end fashion boutique, dealing in luxury fashion and both women's and men's couture. But fear not -- if you aren't in the market for some new luxury fashion accoutrements, you can simply make yourself comfortable in the lobby and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of bubbly.
9. The Carlyle
1250 Ocean Dr., Kiehnel & Elliot
Opening its doors in 1941, this hotel also adheres to a number of standard Art Deco stylistic attributes, like the rule of thirds, with its three dividing vertical sections and the step tops that cap them. It also wears a characteristically sparse color palette of white and sea foam green, a significantly more understated and nuanced take on Art Deco colorways seen in buildings like the Pelican or the Berkeley. The Carlyle has been one of the most recognizable fixtures of the Ocean Drive hotel sprawl for nearly 75 years, lending its facade to films like Scarface and Bad Boys 2, and most notably, giving up its name to become the titular setting of 1996's The Birdcage.
1220 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL