Few cities are associated with a single architectural style the way Miami is with Art Deco. Typified by geometric shapes, pastel colors, aquatic embellishments, and ocean-inspired designs, this style fits perfectly for a beachside city. Most of the following buildings were built in the 1930s and can be found in Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. Like all great architecture, it’s best to experience these buildings in person.
Bass Museum — 2100 Collins Ave.
While many Miami structures have a very bright presence, the Bass Museum is much more subtle and regal. Originally built in 1930 by Russel Pancoast as the Miami Beach Public Library and Arts Center, this building is one of the most universally lauded examples of Art Deco architecture. The exterior is made from fossilized paleolithic coral, giving the museum a naturalistic glow. The bas-reliefs above the entrance depict the conquest of Florida by the Spanish.
The Breakwater — 1250 Ocean Drive
Ocean Drive in South Beach is lined with some of the most distinctive Art Deco hotels in the world. Even when surrounded by such company, the Breakwater stands out as a truly unique piece of architecture. This 99-room boutique hotel features a neon-lighted blue and yellow facade that’s quintessential Miami Beach. Enjoy a cocktail at Cafe Med, located on the front patio, while you admire the hotel’s clean lines and emphasis on symmetry.
The McAlpin — 1424 Ocean Drive
Located just down the street from the Breakwater, the McAlpin is an iconic structure that has been featured in its fair share of photos and postcards. From the perfectly symmetrical windows to the pink and aqua pastel hues, this hotel embodies everything about “Tropical Deco.” Today, the McAlpin is part of the Hilton Grand Vacation Club, but its stylized exterior has remained intact. Daytime is best for viewing this colorful masterpiece; however, the lines and circle accents are tastefully lit up at night.
Señor Frog’s Miami — 1450 Collins Ave
Over the years, many of Miami Beach’s most notable Art Deco buildings have been occupied by many different owners. The structure currently held by Señor Frog’s was originally opened in 1939 as Hoffman’s Cafeteria. While the atmosphere inside Señor Frog’s is pure spring break mayhem, the exterior remains nautical Art Deco. With its bright-aqua facade and circular rooftop decorations, this building will always stand out on Collins Avenue.
Colony Theater — 1040 Lincoln Road
The 1930s marked the beginning of cinema’s golden age. The Colony Theater, which opened in 1935, is a perfect artifact of this time. Following a three-year, $6.5 million renovation, the facility’s original marquee, lobby and ticket booth were restored to their original Art Deco glory. The 430-seat theater is now a performing arts center that hosts everything from opera to comedy performances.
Perhaps the best part of the Miami Beach Architectural District is that the area is so walkable. Whether you wish to explore the area solo or with a tour, the southern sub-tropical climate should accommodate your journey nicely.
Will you be checking out the Art Deco architecture next time you’re in Miami? Let us know in the comments!