Miami Architecture Evolves from Art Deco to Full Range of World-Class Designs

Perhaps best known for the Art Deco history of South Beach, Miami architecture offers much more variety and in recent years has become a city with a full range of architectural gems with exploring. Looking past the art deco — and what many now call “tropical deco” — there are plenty of luxurious Mediterranean Revival structures and examples of mid-century style motels enjoying a retro revival. Last but not least, there are many examples of what’s become known as the Miami Beach School of Architecture, which says began during the Miami Vice era.

Fast forward to 2021 and Miami architecture has, even more, to boast about because some of the world’s premier architects have designed buildings across the city. Modern residential towers have popped up in all areas of the city, featuring spectacular profiles, luxurious residences and unparalleled views. And, remember that each section of great Miami has its own flavor, from the Art Deco style of South Beach, the modern towers filling Brickell and lining the coastline, and the more laid-back, casual feeling of Coconut Grove. Wherever you explore, you’ll find intriguing examples, but here is a list of some recent spectacular additions to Miami architecture that you won’t want to miss.

Don’t Miss These Fabulous Examples of Miami Architecture on Your Next Trip
Dramatic Exoskeleton Highlights Zaha Hadid’s One Thousand Museum Tower

Dramatic Exoskeleton Highlights Zaha Hadid's One Thousand Museum Tower

One of the highlights of Miami Architecture — or any city’s architecture or that matter — is a building by the late, renowned Zaha Hadid. Hadid’s One Thousand Museum tower is a 62-story residential skyscraper that soars to 700 feet (210 meters). It was one of the last projects she undertook before her untimely death.

Located opposite Museum Park in Downtown Miami, the building is distinguished by a curving structural “exoskeleton” that fronts the glass facade. Among the facilities will be a swimming pool at top of the building, to be covered by a curving, faceted double-height metal ceiling that will reflect the water — all surrounded by expanses of glass. 

The exterior formwork is a visible feature in many of the communal areas, covering the windows of the gym and sheltering the adjoining terrace. It’s made of 5,000 pieces of lightweight glass-fiber-reinforced concrete. Chock full of myriad luxury amenities, the roof will sport a helipad — the first for a private residential skyscraper in Miami architecture. One Thousand Museum is being developed by Louis Birdman, Gregg Covin, Kevin Venger, Regalia Group and New York-based Plaza Construction.

Architectural Gem 1111 Lincoln Road Elevates Parking to an Art Form 

Located in a hot spot of Miami — the corner of Alton and Lincoln — this fabulous piece of Miami architecture is a unique mixed-use building. The structure at 1111 Lincoln Road sits amid one of the city’s most active and vibrant pedestrian areas. And, while it includes residences and retail spaces, the entire building revolves around parking.

Jacques Herzog of Herzog & de Meuron architects said the structure embodies the essence of Tropical Modernism and is reminiscent of the modern movement in Brazil:  The building’s raw elements provide shade while featuring smaller enclosed sub-elements. Concrete slabs are situated above irregular columns, creating a feeling of “precarious equilibrium” and casting shadows that enhance the character of the facade. 

Other elements of Brazilian modernism are infused throughout the structure, including interior courtyards designed by landscape architect Raymond Jungles. The project, developed by Robert Wennett, provides 300 parking spots and is home to eleven shops and three restaurants at ground level, more shops on the fifth floor, a high-end restaurant on the roof, as well as luxury residences.

Man-Made Lagoon Highrise in South Beach is Climate Responsive

South Beach is getting a new addition to Miami architecture with the construction of Monad Terrace, Jean Nouvel’s first Miami project. Unlike any other residential undertaking in the city, this one includes a manmade lagoon.

Designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel in collaboration with Kobi Karp, the residence sits on West Avenue in the very desirable South Beach area. Most importantly, the building is designed with climate resilience in mind. Monad Terrace is designed to accommodate climate change: The building’s lobby is 11.5 feet above the surface of West Avenue. This means that all of the structure’s interior spaces are significantly above the level of the flood plain, which protects them and eliminates the need to dig into the water table.

“Its thoughtful design serves as an exemplar for how we should be building and developing coastal cities. Without compromising aesthetics, this project brings the ingenuity and design that is entirely appropriate to this environment,” said Michael Stern, Founder of JDS Development.

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Another environmentally innovative feature is the custom-engineered “honeycomb” screen on the facade of the building. It’s built into the glass curtain wall system and serves to significantly cut down on glare and heat gain without interfering with the spectacular views. In a further nod to the environment, loads of native vegetation are installed on the site and up the balconied elevation. This not only promotes further cooling but also works to improve air quality. In fact, the entire complex centers around a man-made lagoon and features a 116-foot swimming pool and a number of reflection pools. 

Monad Terrace houses 59 residences that range from two to five bedrooms and interiors designed by Ateliers Jean Nouvel. Four penthouses have private pools on their roof decks, and all residents have a spectacular range of amenities from a cafe and juice bar to on-site valet parking.

Perez Art Museum is a Sight To See, Inside and Out


One of the great additions to Miami architecture has been the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). A key element in the redevelopment of the downtown waterfront on Biscayne Bay, the museum is actually part of Museum Park, which includes the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. Because it’s so close to the water, the building was designed with a number of features that make its environment the focus. PAMM is situated so that all the art is above the storm surge level, and the lower area comprises open-air parking. The posts that are a central element of the exterior actually rise from the parking level and extend all the way up to support the canopy that shades the entire veranda. A wide stairway connects the space to the adjacent waterfront promenade.

Special features of PAMM’s design by Herzog & de Meuron are the ways that it preserves an open view and spacious feeling while guarding it from the heat and sun. All the massive windows are recessed and have wood planks under the concrete beams to cut down on the building’s use of energy and mitigate the effect of the sun on the glass. Durable tropical greenery is used around the structure and together with the roof design, create a microclimate that bridges the gap between the cool indoors and the hot outdoor environment. On the inside, the gallery spaces were flexibly designed to meet the needs of the museum’s expanding collections as well as special highlighted exhibits. 

Grove at Grand Bay Re-Greens Heart of Coconut Grove


The Coconut Grove area south of Miami has an image that is closely linked with wild and tropical vegetation, but the central area of this community has, over time, lost that look. Now, the Grove at Grand Bay takes a big step toward restoring that environment. Designed by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels Group, the two towers of the project start from the ubiquitous contemporary condominium design and then veer off toward a more lush environment.

The usual brise-soleil-style balconies that are paired with floor-to-ceiling windows provide optimum views at every level of the buildings. Residents can gaze at the marina, the sailboat bays and the dramatic Miami skyline. The twisting profile of the towers gives them a kind of visual motion and sets them apart. Throughout the property, abundant plantings provide lots of greenery, enhancing the open areas and blanketing the cover over the entrance area.

Sweeping concrete Roof Defines UM Architecture School

Of course, a school of architecture should have a distinctive building and the new one at the University of Miami is a piece of concrete drama in the Miami architecture landscape.  Designed by local firm Arquitectonica, the Thomas P Murphy Design Studio Building is named after the father of the founder of Coastal Construction, the company that built the project.

The defining feature of this building is the swooping roof that tops the structure, jutting out to form a covered patio and shaded area by the large, expansive floor-to-ceiling windows. According to the project’s description, “The building is, in essence, a single, oversized shed, featuring a vaulted roof suspended 18 feet (5.5 meters) over the floor by narrow steel columns and a few fixed walls.” It was also designed with education in mind: Various elements of the structure are actually a teaching tool because they demonstrate some of the basic concepts in not only architecture but also sustainability and construction.

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For the interior, it has a large open-plan area for students, which can be divided when necessary by a red fabric drape. The A studio space encompasses an area that can accommodate from 90 to 130 workstations in a range of configurations. In addition, the walls on both the east and west sides are clad in felt so that students can pin up their work and another area includes moveable sections for exhibitions.

Uruguayan architect plans angled towers on the river in Downtown Miami

Mention a waterside residence and most people will automatically think about the beach, but there’s also the Miami River. It flows 5.5-miles from the Miami Canal Greater Downtown Miami to the Biscayne Bay and is still an active transport route. The area around the river has been revitalized and will soon be home to a pair of spectacular angled towers designed by Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly. This area is very desirable because it’s also close to the Miami Riverwalk, a promenade for residents and visitors to stroll, shop and dine along the way.

The planned mixed-use development focuses on the two symmetrical 60-story buildings that will be capped off by a three-story, wedge-shaped sky bridge. One River Point will be Viñoly’s first project in Miami architecture, located on Southwest 4th Street, next to the Miami River. Each residence features outdoor terraces that will look out toward the river, Miami Beach and the bay. “Optimizing light and views were Viñoly’s principal focus in the design of the building,” says a statement about One River Point. As dramatic as the overall silhouette is, the interior will be no less spectacular: An 85-foot-tall waterfall will enclose the front entrance and valet area.

Eighty-Seven Park a Serene Oasis on North Miami beachfront

The epitome of luxury living in Miami is a beachside residence and the latest addition to North Beach Miami architecture will be a gorgeous oval building by Italian architect Renzo Piano. Set beside the Atlantic Ocean, a 35-acre public park, and a two-acre private garden for residents, the condominium tower will be a true oasis by the sea. Each of the 18 stories is wrapped with a terrace and features floor-to-ceiling windows the open up to the vistas beyond in all directions.

Elevated on white pillars, the building houses just 68 units, from 1,400 square feet at the smaller end to 7,000 square feet. The look of the residences –as well as the entire structure — was meant to be one of lightness, “a sense of a lack of gravity,” Piano explained. “The quality of architecture is about poetry and beauty but it’s also about detail and perfection,” Piano added, noting that the decks of the building seem to float, reflecting the light from the sun and the sea. Inside, the look is lush and beach-inspired, with American oak floors the color of aged sea grape leaves,  Venetian terrazzo reminiscent of the sand, and furnishings in shades of grey and green, accented with gold. 

Apple Aventura Store Melds Modern With Art Deco Inspiration

When planning a tour of Miami architecture, the Apple store probably doesn’t figure on your list of must-see buildings, but it certainly should!  Located in the new extension of the Aventura Mall in North Miami, the Apple store’s roofline was inspired by the city’s iconic Art Deco buildings. Designers Foster + Partners closely collaborated with former Apple chief design officer Jonathan Ive on the boxy, two-story building. Apple Aventura features glass walls and trees inside the store, an aesthetic that Foster + Partners created for Apple in a number of its stores. The merging of the outdoors with a feeling of freedom and creativity is emblematic of the Apple ethos.

By contrast, the wavy roof is modeled after the 1930s modernist structures that are part of South Beach and Miami architecture history, from the white concrete to the curved walls. Seven, precast 20-foot-wide white concrete arches make up the roof and thin steel columns clad in a white concrete casing support the barrel-vaulted ceiling. Apple’s Aventura location is the first to be built with white precast concrete, similar to the company’s Cupertino headquarters.

Inside, stadium-style seats cover two levels, face a “Forum screen,” and feature leather seating and charging stations. The mall’s entrance and plaza anchor the store and the courtyard has trees, low plantings and teak outdoor furniture. Designers say that it is a “response to Miami’s outdoor lifestyle” and is “an outdoor Genius Grove.”.



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