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spenser1058

Mizner At Rollins

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In doing some research on the "Florida vernacular," I'm reading Boca Rococo by Caroline Seebohm about how architect Addison Mizner affected Gold Coast architecture and discovered this passage:

 

"...On March 10 (1932), (Mizner) gave a speech at Rollins College in Winter Park, explaining to the students that Spanish architecture was not indigenous to the region and had to be adapted to the Florida climate."

 

I got a kick out of that, given that Rollins' campus continues to be one of the larger collections of such architecture to the present day. While I think Cracker and Craftsman styles are more appropriate to the history of central Florida, I have no doubt that when most transplants think of a "Florida style," they first think of Addison's creations.

 

 

Bic and Sunshine, I meant for this to go in the Coffee House. Please move it up there if you will. My apologies.

Edited by spenser1058

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I've always wondered why Mediterranean Revival took such a stronghold on Florida, where it doesnt really suit the climate or lifestyle all too well, versus southern vernacular architecture such as larger porches on homes, balconies on sidewalks, etc. There has been a "vernacular revival" in residential home construction over the last 2 decades in central Florida likely made popular by the gentrification of historic Orlando neighborhoods. I also think Florida's 50s Modernism movement goes largely unnoticed by the masses outside of Miami and well, Mills50.

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What I've learned is that Mizner was not just another architect - he was the one who brought Mediterranean Revival to Florida. Mizner was a Californian who was also deeply influenced by the buildings he saw as a teenager while his father served as a diplomat in Central America. 

 

While Flagler did build the Ponce de Leon and Alcazar hotels (he also bought the existing Casa Monica) and they were done in a Spanish style in keeping with the history of St. Augustine, when he built the Royal Poinciana and what we now know as The Breakers in Palm Beach, they were done in a more traditional style. Henry Plant, of course, also built his Tampa Bay Hotel in a Moorish style, but it was nothing like what was to come.

 

Mizner came to Palm Beach from New York and, financed by Paris SInger (scion of the sewing machine fortune), almost immediately began to build in the style he had found he preferred up north. With the end of WWI, Palm Beach boomed. The building of the Everglades Club cemented Addison's place as THE architect of the wealthy in the area, and the rest is hostory. All that came later (Boca Raton, Coral Gables, etc.,) followed in Mizner's footsteps.The amazing thing is that when you selected Mizner you didn't just get blueprints - he also did the interior decoration and the landscape design. His all-encompassing approach had a similar effect as Steve Jobs' "walled garden" would in computing and his style became ubiquitous as it was copied. Mizner also had his own factories to build the tiles and urns and all the things he needed to go in the houses. Almost by accident, he expanded by building commercially with the development of Via Mizner along Worth Avenue.

 

An aside - when Miami hired Philip Johnson in the '60's to design a new administrative building for them, they expected something quite modern since he was one of the major prophets of the International Style in the US (the Seagram Building was his along with Mies, of course). What they got instead was a Mizner-inspired Mediterranean Revival design. Mizner is also important as a role model for the gay community.  

Edited by spenser1058

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Interesting topic ... Thanks for sharing. Despite the fact Spanish or Mediterranean revival wasn't well-suited to our climate in Florida in the pre-A/C days, I have to admit as a native Floridian that it does make me think of home. (In addition to the afore mentioned Craftsman, Cracker, and Deco styles.)

I think it's that particular combination of architectural styles that makes Florida so special to me. I only wish new developers and builders would embrace said combination when designing new construction in Orlando and the rest of the Sunshine State. The blandness of new architectural design these days- both residential and commercial- is so sad.

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