Recently, an article came out in Plum Magazine entitled “The Bay Harbor Islands: ENDANGERED” written by Beth Dunlop. The article brought attention to the MiMo architecture style found in Bay Harbor Islands, in fact Bay Harbor Islands is home to the largest collection of MiMo architecture in the world. The article also asks the question, “… so why is no one paying attention to it?”
First, let’s define MiMo. MiMo, which is short for Miami Modern is a style of architecture from the 1950’s and 1960’s which originated in Miami, Florida. The Post World War II or MiMo Style of design became popular the 1950s when architects were heavily influenced by the International Style taught in most architecture schools. Architects carried on the whimsical tropical tradition using new materials and forms. Eyebrows gave way to metal louvers and sun shades, tiled mosaic walls became a popular feature as did open balconies and catwalks.
Why should people be paying attention to this unique architecture? Dunlop explains, “The town of Bay Harbor Islands epitomizes a time when life was all promise, that moment just after World War II when Americans were building new lives… The architecture reflected that open, airy, optimistic, not to mention cheeky and even a little sassy. Bay Harbor Island is almost a time capsule… The buildings are highly photogenic… Preservations, set designers, and film stylists adore the town…” She continues to discribe how MiMo is different than the other type of architecture of its time, “It’s resort style aimed at celebrating the seaside climate.”
Why is MiMo endangered in the Bay Harbor Islands? To quote Dunlop again, “… Too many of Bay Harbor’s politians are holding out for the quick fix – demolition and new construction. To the political eye, the buildings are too small, too low, too plain. Which makes Bay Harbor an endangered place, bewilderingly so…”
Want to learn more about Miami Modern architecture? Take a tour. The Miami Design Preservation League has joined forces with North Beach Development Corporation to bring you a ninety-minute guided walking tour of the newly recognized North Shore National Registered District which spotlights the distinctive MiMo architecture. You’ll learn how to identify the many unique traits of MiMo architecture by visiting a number of different public and private buildings. Tours depart from the southeast corner of 73rd Street and Collins Avenue. Reservations are not required. Payment by cash or check ($20.00) will be taken at the start of the tour, and no reservations are necessary. MDPL members may participate at no charge. Tour time is the first Saturday of each month at 9:30am.