Text and photography by Lee F. Mindel for Architectural Digest.
Bal Harbour's classically styled Admiralty apartments.
As Miami Beach prepares for its centennial celebrations this year, I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the noteworthy buildings and landmarks that make this such a unique destination. And who better to tour the city with than artist Michele Oka Doner and art collector and Wolfsonian Museum founder Micky Wolfson. Doner and Wolfson--their fathers were each mayors of Miami Beach (Wolfson's in the 1940s; Doner's in the '50s)--coauthored a magical book about the city, Miami Beach: Blueprint of an Eden (Feierabend Unique Books, 2005), and joined me recently for some architectural sightseeing.
The construction of the Morris Lapidus-designed Fontainebleau hotel blocked the sun from the adjacent Eden Roc hotel (also designed by Lapidus), earning it the nickname "Spite Wall."
The snack bar at the Raleigh hotel, designed in 1940 by acclaimed architect L. Murray Dixon. The hotel has elegant Art Deco interiors and, according to Life magazine, "the most beautiful pool in America."
Bal Harbour's Vista Shores apartments are grouped to simulate a large single residence with a French-inspired neo-Baroque courtyard.
One of the first stops on my tour of Miami Beach with Michele Oka Doner and Micky Wolfson was a single-story 1937 Art Deco post office, which has a rounded classical turret that turns the corner onto Washington Avenue.