Tropical Waves: South Florida Contorts Modernism

Glasgow Lecture Hall

1215 Theo Dickinson Dr
Coral Gables, FL


Arthur Marcus

Deborah Desilets, RA

David McKinney

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Architects in mid-century South Florida, working in a subtropical context, eagerly appropriated the Modern Movement but also challenged its rational foundations, its functionalism, and its aesthetics. Responding to climate and landscape, but also to the region’s vocation as a touristic hotspot and to the expectations of diverse waves of immigrants, many architects indulged in flights of whimsy, luxury, and theatricality, creating environments designed to appeal to visitors and the global market. Viewed with more than a half-century of detachment, the ensemble of this work reveals South Florida as an imaginative laboratory where architectural Modernism was tested, expanded and embellished.

Speakers & Presentations
  • The Architecture of Whimsy: Mid-20th-Century-Modern Architecture in South Florida
    Arthur Marcus 
  • A Coney Island State of Mind: Morris Lapidus
    Deborah Desilets  
  • Morris Lapidus Abandons Bourgeois Baroque for Tropical Brutalism
    David D. McKinney  

Allan Shulman



Glasgow Lecture Hall


1.25 LU AIA credits