Miami is home to a variety of interesting buildings, ranging from private mansions with moats that were designed to resemble 17th century French chateaus to condo buildings that tower over the city and even shacks that sit on stilts above the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to the Art Deco style of architecture that is commonly seen in Miami, there are also examples of Mediterranean Revival and Spanish Revival architecture, as well as the occasional building that appears to be nothing more than a jumble of shapes sitting on top of each other.
In such a large city that is full of history, it is hard to narrow down all the unique buildings into the 10 most interesting buildings in Miami. That being said, here they are.
It took three years to construct 500 Brickell, building that consists of twin 42 story towers. Finally, the condominium complex, designed by Arquitectonia, a Miami area architecture firm, was completed in 2008. The finished product is connected by a 10 story base before separating into a courtyard. Finally, at the top, a large white roof reconnects the two, though it includes a large hole to allow sunlight to hit the large pool and sundeck that sits in the courtyard.
Freedom Tower at Miami Dade College
Designed by Schultze and Weaver and completed in 1925, the Freedom Tower features a unique mix of Spanish Renaissance Revival and Mediterranean Revival architecture. The building, which has served as the home The Miami News before being used by the federal government to provide medical and dental care for Cuban refugees, stands 225 feet tall and is topped by a decorative beacon. In 1979, the building was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is 2008, it was designated a U.S. National Landmark. In 2005, it was donated to Miami Dade College and is used as an educational center, cultural center, and museum.
Espirito Santo Plaza
Designed by architecture firm, Kohn Pederson Fox, and built in 2004, Espirito Santo Plaza is a sparkling glass tower that takes up an entire city block in the middle of Miami’s International financial market. The 36 story condo and office building is easily identified by its 36-story concave figural arch that is meant to symbolize the gateway to Latin America.
Designed by Foster + Partners and completed in 2015, Faena House is an upscale condo building that not only features a unique design, but sits right along the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The 17 story tower features a tapered, oblong shape, as well as overhanging balconies, and sleek, modern lines with a touch of Art Deco style. On a side note, Faena House includes a 12,516 sq. ft. penthouse that sold for $60 million in September 2015, making it the largest residential real estate sale in Miami history.
Designed and built by Charles Sieger in 2007, Chateau Artisan is a modern day castle complete with a moat, boat house, coy pond, and royal gardens. The 19,222 sq. ft., 3 level Chateau, modeled after a 17th-century French chateau, was designed to be exactly symmetrical and medieval, yet modern. In 2013, the home went on the market for $10.4 million, though there is no record that the home, along with the 4 acres it sites on, ever sold.
Designed and built by Chayo Franklin in 1967 for his family’s woodworking and store fixture business, the Amertec Building was constructed using sprayed concrete and curved rebars to form a variety of huge geometric shapes. Random circular windows were included to ensure natural light was able to shine through the building. In 2002, the building was sold. Currently, the unique building is used for storage and is painted in Miami Dolphins colors.
Bacardi Building Cube
Built in 1963 by Enrique Gutierrez, a Cuban architect, the Bacardi Building is balanced on a small cube of concrete painted bright orange. Above, the 8 story building is constructed from slabs of translucent concrete and brightly colored stained glass that shows the transformation of sugar cane into rum in reference to what the Bacardi Company is famous for. Today, the building is owned by the National Young Arts Foundation owns the building, but the exterior remains the same as a symbol of Miami’s Cuban exiles triumph over adversity. (In the past, the Bacardi Company’s assets were taken by Cuba’s government, though they managed to overcome this.)
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Based on a design by Cesar Pelli, it took over five years to build the $150 million Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, which was completed in 2006 and serves as the home of the Miami City Ballet and the Florida Grand Opera. Considered by some members of the art community to be Miami’s most beautiful building, the center is comprised of steel and glass. It includes a concert hall, outdoor performance area, theater, and restaurant.
Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
Designed by Bernard Tschumi, the 12,000 sq. ft. Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building was completed in 2003 on the northern side of Florida International University’s campus. The building was designed with broken lines and geometric shapes to give it a “more dynamic appearance” and was partially covered with bright red, yellow, and orange tiles to ensure it could easily be seen from a distance.
Situated a mile off the Miami coast, on the sand banks of Biscayne Bay’s Safety Valve, Stiltsville is a collection of seven wooden houses sitting on stilts above the water. While some believe that the first “shack” was built in 1933 by Eddie Walker to be used as a place for gambling, others say there were more than 12 “shacks” sitting in the same spot as early as 1922. Over time, additional shacks were added, though it is worth noting that they have been destroyed in hurricanes on more than one occasion and rebuilt. In recent years, the Stiltsville Trust Inc. has been created to take care of the homes that are often used for small conferences and camera shoots.