Turning 50

Lincoln Road Celebrates a Major Milestone

The man said he’d make it for pedestrians, because “cars never bought anything.” But retail or no retail, this was to be a thing of beauty. Another bold stroke in the striking skyline, and a wondrous way to set Miami Beach apart from every other city in the world. This was to be a road unlike another road, a path to commerce, sure; more importantly though, a route to spectacle.

The man in question was Morris Lapidus, and the pathway on his mind would become Lincoln Road.

The year was 1957. The Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc were already basically landmarks; the Crystal House, the Bal Harbour Americana and the 29 buildings that would become Aventura were still to come. Lapidus undertook the designing of Lincoln Road with the pride of a man making history. And he did so pro bono.

That’s right. Lapidus never took a dime for designing Miami Beach’s main shopping strip. This was special; this was personal. And this would be his way of going fully public.

One blow-out exhibit (now up and running through July 18), and one knowing lecture (June 9) bring to us all the wonder and whimsy that is Lapidus and his landmark Lincoln Road.

Put on by ArtCenter South Florida to help mark the Road’s 50th birthday(as well as their own 25th) and timed to specifically coincide with the 2010 AIA National Convention, which is taking place in Miami on June 10-12, the exhibit, A Quest for Emotion and Motion in Architecture, features items on loan from Lapidus acolyte Deborah Desilets’s private archives. And it’s about as good as the great man gets.

According to the ArtCenter’s Director of ExhibitionsJaquenetteArnette, who did all the legwork, Center director Jeremy Chestler first worked with Desilits back in 2001, when he was at MOCA. And with the AIA occurring almost across the street, it only made sense to highlight “the Father of Miami Architecture.”

Though Lapidus of course is the star of this show, one gets the impression that none of this would be possible without Desilets’s devout devotion. Desilits, who worked for the master the last eight years of his remarkable life, not only provides images, she even throwsin Lapidus’s lucky hat.

“With Times Square sectioning off eight blocks in order to make a pedestrian mall,”Desilets says, “now is the perfect time to study what’s right about his Lincoln Road design.”

“After all,” she adds,” this was one of only two public projects he did in his lifetime. The other is A Public Place, which is in New York’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, where he grew up. And both are perfect statements for diversity.”

But it is Lapidus’s Lincoln Road that concerns us here, what Desilits calls his “swan song of retail design.” It’s the culmination of 25 years of attending to commerce, and it not only impacts the way we shop, but the way we live among each other.

Desilets, who has previously published monographs on both Lapidus and the Ritz-Carlton (nee the De Lido) with Assouline and will release An Architecture of Joy through Rizzoli this Fall, says that Lapidus and a man called Hertz were inspired by the streets of Rotterdam. And they’d have gone all the way to the ocean had not the Sirkin family blocked off the last two blocks.

“They had The Albion, they had the Di Lido, they had Wolfies,” says Desilets. “They didn’t need it.”

You can learn the whole sordid story at The Jewish Museum on June 9 when Desilets delivers the address “Shaping Lincoln Road with Lapidus, Hertz, and Sirkin: The Un-Told Story.” As you might suspect it’s one of shady dealings and outright altruism. And it is yet another tale perfectly set for our town.

So go ahead, swing through the ArtCenter’sswingin’ show, catch Desilets’s knowing chats (she’s also at The Colony on June 10), because you can never be too aware of where you spend your days, or your nights. Especially when those days and nights are spent on an expanse as exhilarating as our own Lincoln Road.

A Quest for Emotion and Motion in Architecture, on view through July 18, 2010  ArtCenter / South Florida  800 Lincoln Road Miami  Beach For more information call305.674.8278

“Shaping Lincoln Road with Lapidus, Hertz, and Sirkin: The Un-Told Story” Jewish Museum of Florida  301 Washington Avenue Miami Beach  Deborah Desilets Lecture  Wednesday, June 9 at 7:30 pm

At the Wolf

Also running in conjunction with the 2010 AIA National Convention is ‘The Grand Hotels of Schultze & Weaver’ Installation and the ‘Unrealized Architecture’ Exhibition at The Wolfsonian-FIU. The former opens June 3 and thereafter becomes part of the Wolf’s permanent exhibition. The latter is currently on view in the museum’s rare book and special collections library vestibule, and has been since May 27.

Schultze & Weaver were the high minds behind such esteemed landmarks as New York’s Waldorf-Astoria, Palm, Beach’s The Breakers in Palm Beach, and Miami’s own Biltmore. And, according to the press release, the installation “features renderings, floor plans, drawings, and photographs of many of the firm’s luxurious hotels designed from1921-1931 in South Florida and New York.”

Unrealized Architecture, in contrast, concerns itself with unbuilt landmarks from the likes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, Frank Lloyd Wright, Hugh Ferriss and Vladimir Evgrafovich Tatlin. And, quoting again, it “explores the impact that unbuilt architectural projects have had on society and on other architects.”

But besides the twin shows, you’ll wanna be there on the evening of June 10 when authors Allan Shulman, Randall C. Robinson, Jr., and Jeff Donnelly, are joined by photographer Robin Hill and map designer Ulises Peinado Eyherabide to discuss the just out Miami Architecture: An AIA Guide Featuring Downtown, the Beaches and Coconut Grove (University Press of Florida).

According to the book’s press release, “Miami Architecture grew out of the Miami Architecture Project, a community-based, nonprofit association that organized more than a dozen local forums to develop deeper appreciation of architecture and the role of architecture in community revitalization.” And considering the authors each has extensive experience in the Magic City’s peculiar architecture, either as professor (Shulman), planner (Robinson, Jr.) or preservationist (Donnelly), it’s a cinch we’re in for one enlightening conversation.

Miami Architecture: An AIA Guide Featuring Downtown, the Beaches and Coconut Grove with authors Allan Shulman, Randall C. Robinson, Jr., and Jeff Donnelly, photographer Robin Hill and map designer Ulises Peinado Eyherabide takes place Thursday, June 10 at 7:30pm at The Wolfsonian-FIU 1001 Washington Avenue Miami Beach For more information contact 305.535.2644

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