17 May 2013

It caught my eye: Modernist Hotel Signs in Miami

Seems lately I'm in Miami on a daily basis. With all that driving around a lot of architecture catches your eye, but you can't observe it in detail when you have a client in the car.

But recently I took my new camera with me, to take photos of hotel signs I had seen before. These signs of Miami Modern glamour from the 40s and 50s ("MiMo") I found on a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard (aka US1) in the 60s and 70s:

...and my favourite, for the absolutely priceless detail in the fountain as well as that lovely name:

Front elevation of the Vagabond Motel, designed ca. 1953 by Delano Hotel architect B. Robert Swartburg and currently waiting to be remodeled:

Did I overlook any beautiful ones you know of? Send them in please!

Update on 21 May 13: Biscayne Times has a great piece on the Biscayne Boulevard Miami Modern Historic District (yes, it is quite a mouthful). And more on the Vagabond Motel – did I mention that I love the fountain? – and its planned rehab at curbed.miami.
Photos © tckaiser

03 May 2013

Nothing beats being On Site

Modern communication, blessing and curse – always within reach, auto-uploads to Dropbox, instant feedback, blogging from the coffee-shop, sharing photos instantly, Skype conferencing, pushing privacy limits.

What falls by the wayside? I don’t mean intonation, facial expressions and haptics, but those can get lost too.

What gets lost is the big picture, the overview, the impression – which, astonishingly enough, is not the sum of all things recordable and transferable via LTE. To quote architect Dieter van Everbroeck: "Good architecture is always about the site". Or being on site.

I got an interesting lesson the other day: 

A very attractive house by a respected modernist architect came to market. The client who was most interested in it lives a few thousand miles away, he could not come down for weeks to see it. But he expressed great interest, so I drove over and previewed the house.

The MLS photos were gorgeous images done by a professional, mine were snapped with a smart phone on a rainy day. And neither ones are lying.

But my preview also showed a bit more real life than the listing photos. My overall impression of the house and the area was such that the client, after discussing it at length over the phone and seeing my photos, dropped the property from his list.

There was nothing wrong with the house. But only experiencing the property in situ gave a complete picture, including wear and tear and pros and cons and surroundings.

The take-away: Do not rely on impressions that can be pulled from the web – nothing beats standing on the site, hearing, feeling and sensing it.

Did you ever have a similar experience as mine? Care to share?