Everyone knows about South Beach, with its Art Deco gems and trendy shops and cafes.
But its northern cousin — MiMo on the Beach — is not nearly as well known.
That’s about to change. The city of Miami Beach has unveiled a new website,www.MiMoOnTheBeach.com, that details the architectural history of the area, whose roots lie in the post-World War II period known as Modernism. The buildings are steeped in modernist influence, with their delta wings, sharp angles and curved, sweeping walls.
The area consists of four neighborhoods: the North Shore District to the north, the Morris Lapidus/Mid 20th Century District to the south, the Normandy Isles District to the west and the North Beach Resort District to the east. Two of the neighborhoods, the North Shore District and the Normandy Isles District, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The other two are locally designated historic districts.
“Granted, there are a few newer buildings and the automobiles have changed,” says Miami Beach principal planner Joyce Meyers, “but otherwise the MiMo districts are largely intact. It is unusual to find such a large concentration of buildings of a similar style and time period in one place.”
A state grant of $9,200 helped fund the website, while Miami Beach kicked in $2,543 for the project.
The website features an interactive map that details the neighborhood history and the buildings’ architectural heritage.
After World War II, MiMo resort hotels competed for the trendiest designs to lure vacationers.
The Fontainebleau, Eden Roc and Deauville are the poster children of this architectural style, with their sweeping curved walls, soaring pylons and delta wings. The first two were designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus.
The introduction of air-conditioning allowed for more architectural freedom, as cross-ventilation became less of a concern. This new wave of architecture, which incorporated plate glass, poured concrete and marble, and rare hardwood for interiors, quickly spread to apartments, commercial buildings and single-family homes.
Two of the districts are residential and feature low-slung buildings with porches, gardens and big windows.
The North Shore District became the center for middle-class residents seeking a tropical lifestyle after World War II, while the Normandy Isles district is two man-made islands – Isle of Normandy and Normandy Shores – dotted with single-family homes and garden apartments.
“The dense, low-scale neighborhoods of North Shore and Normandy Isles offer cohesive architectural character, as well as a place where ordinary people can live affordably without the need for a car,” Meyers said.
The other two districts are known for their splashy hotels and resorts. The North Beach Resort District, from 63rd to 71st streets off Collins Avenue, features such iconic hotels as the Deauville, Carillon, Casablanca and Sherry Frontenac. The Morris Lapidus/Mid 20th Century District features the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc, both designed by famed Miami Beach architect Lapidus.
The website is designed to bring attention to the neighborhoods to promote local businesses and historic preservation.
“If we lose these buildings to redevelopment, we will lose authenticity, affordability and sustainability. If we can encourage visitors to seek out MiMo buildings and neighborhoods, they will help to support businesses in the North Beach area,” Meyers said.