Miami Beach takes top spot in AIA Florida’s Survey, but what else?

Fontainebleau Hotel image courtsey of

The results are in, and the selections to the AIA Florida Top 100 Buildings have been announced.  Miami (by ways of Miami Beach) placed first overall, with Morris Lapidus’ Fontainebleau Hotel.  At the time of its creation, the Fontainebleau was the largest Miami Beach hotel, and its architect only had a handful of projects under his belt.  As New York had McKim, Mead and White, as Fay Jones was to the Ozarks, or even as Frank Gehry was to Los Angeles in the 90’s, Lapidus was very much Miami’s signature architect.  His style was evident, stamping his unique influence into the local vernacular that would be later known as Miami Modernism or MiMo for short.  His architectural gestures were not ornate yet grand and sleek.  His buildings took on a sculptural quality, something that was in stark contrast to his contemporaries Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or the Brutalist architects appearing during the 1950’s.  Lapidus went on to design many buidlings, The Eden Roc Hotel, Lincoln Road, One Flagler in downtown, and others in such places as New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.  His legacy lives on, as seen in the James Bond film Goldfinger, or as the inspiration for the Miramar Playa on the show Magic City.  Even the different generations of local Miami architects pay tribute to Lapidus in their own designs.

Below is a complete list of the AIA Florida’s survey showing the top 10 as well as the top buildings relating to building types.  Perusing the list, you can quickly see that Miami is severely ignored from the remaining 9 entries, but also from the specific categories as well.  How about a mention of Arquitectonica’s Atlantis Condominium?  What about local architect’s Max Strang’s home for a residential mention?  The Miami Marine Stadium, the Barnacle, Villa Vizcaya, Coral Gables City Hall, and The Olympia Theater are all legit contenders for a historical mention.  Did I really think Miami would have swept the awards? Absolutely not, but I at least figured that we would do more respectable than Jacksonville(no offense Jacksonville).  I spoke about Lapidus, but where are the mentions for the other great Florida architects?  Paul Rudolph makes the cut, but what about the other Sarasota School Architects?  Where is Gene Leedy? Where is Mark Hampton?  How about Alfred Browning Parker?  I know that I am only listing locals within Florida, but how about exceptional work done by outside firms?  1111 Lincoln Road by Herzog deMeuron?  The New World Symphony by Gehry?  The Miami Tower by IM Pei?  The Biltmore Hotel by Schultze and Weaver?  Looks like Miami has been overlooked.  Nevertheless, the Morris Lapidus nomination is a great win for the city of Miami Beach and the South Florida area.  Perhaps buildings such as the new Miami Art Museum and Science Museum will be finished and eligible should a similar survey happen in the future.

For the actual website visit:

Top 10:
1st Place – Fontainebleau Miami Beach (Miami Beach)
2nd Place – Mandi’s Chapel (Live Oak)
3rd Place – Baughman Center at the University of Florida (Gainesville)
4th Place – University of North Florida Student Union (Jacksonville)
5th Place – Mar-a-Lago National Historic Landmark (Palm Beach)
6th Place – Saint Paul’s By-The-Sea Episcopal Church (Jacksonville Beach)
7th Place – The Breakers Resort National Historic Landmark (Palm Beach)
8th Place – Florida Southern College (Lakeland)
9th Place – City Park Municipal Garage (Fort Lauderdale)
10th Place – Dodd Hall at The Florida State University (Tallahassee)

Specific Building Types:
Performing Arts – Florida Theatre Building (Jacksonville)
Civic – Boca Raton Town Hall (Boca Raton)
Commercial – Espirito Santo Plaza (Miami)
Educational – University of North Florida Student Union (Jacksonville)
Historic – Mar-a-Lago National Historic Landmark (Palm Beach)
Hotel – Fontainebleau Miami Beach (Miami Beach)
Museum – Dalí Museum (St. Petersburg)
Public Use – City Park Municipal Garage (Fort Lauderdale)
Recreational – Disney’s Cinderella Castle (Lake Buena Vista)
Religious – Mandi’s Chapel (Live Oak)
Residential – Walker Guest House (Sanibel)
Write-in – Ponce de Leon Hotel/Flagler College (St. Augustine)
Architects’ Favorite – University of North Florida Student Union (Jacksonville)


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