Fontainebleau Hotel

Added by Amanda Mullens, last update: December 2, 2015, 11:50 am

Fontainebleau Hotel Fontainebleau Hotel - Miami Florida. 18 July 1958. Flickr. 24 November 2015
4441 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
United States
25° 49' 4.6992" N, 80° 7' 20.604" W
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Identity of Building / Site
Primary classification: Residential (RES)
Secondary classification: Commercial (COM)
Federal, State, or Local Designation(s) and Date(s):

National Register of Historic Places, 12/22/08

History of Building/Site
Original Brief:

In 1952, New York developer Ben Novack bought the Harvey Firestone estate with the goal of erecting the greatest resort in Miami Beach. For the task of designing this new hotel, he chose Morris Lapidus. Novack had visited France recently and had directed Lapidus to design the interior in a French Provincial style. Lapidus, in his design, however, created a blend of French Renaissance and International Style for the building's final product.
The hotel and resort was opened for business in 1954 and was, at the time, the premier location for luxury on Miami Beach. Just one month following the resort's grand re-opening in November of 2008, the Fontainebleau was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dates: Commission / Completion:Commissioned in 1952; completed in 1954.
Architectural and other Designer(s): Arch: Morris Lapidus Bldr: Novak & Taylor Construction
Others associated with Building/Site: Ben Novack, Developer
Significant Alteration(s) with Date(s): 1958: The addition of the hotel's North Tower, designed by A. Herbert Mathes and completed in 1960. 1988: A ballroom was constructed on the east elevation by the removal of a number of ancillary facilities, among them the original Lapidus cabanas. 2006: Major renovations and expansions were completed on the resort, resulting in a grand re-opening in 2008. Many of the alterations to the property were completed in order to restore the design, especially of the hotel's interior, to its original design and condition.
Current Use: It is currently used as a hotel and resort.
Current Condition: The general profile of the Lapidus Chateau remains. The exteriors have not lost their character or defining elements and the expression of the International style espoused by Lapidus is apparent. The new landscaping is in a more formal, symmetrical style, similar to the original.
General Description:

The Fontainebleau Resort Miami Beach is comprised of two distinct pieces, each designed by a distinct architect. The first part, known as the Chateau, was designed by Morris Lapidus and construction was completed in 1954. The Chateau is of the primary historical and architectural significance and was designed in a crescent shape atop a pedestal, in the International Style.

Construction Period:


Original Physical Context:

The Fontainebleau Miami Beach is situated on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, in the center of an area known locally as "Millionaires Row". The eastern exposure of the hotel faces the Atlantic Ocean. The western exposure, where the main entrance lay, faces an inlet of Surprise Lake, which is a tributary of Biscayne Bay.

Technical Evaluation:

The Chateau is 150 feet in height and has a concrete frame with block construction. Above the pedastal base, the crescent shaped building rises eleven stories high. The facade features horizontal bands of windows stretching across the entire facade.


Following its construction, and well into the 21st century, the Fontainebleau Hotel is a prominent figure in Miami Beach's culture of tourism, dining, and nightlife...

Cultural & Aesthetic:
The Fontainebleau Miami Beach opened in 1954, amid a golden era in Miami Beach. Hotelier Ben Novack dreamed of building one of the world's greatest resorts and through Morris Lapidus' vision, accomplished that feat with the largest hotel in Miami Beach, featuring 554 guest rooms in an eleven-story building with a curved facade that originally outraged architectural critics but has since become an architectural icon.
General Assessment:
The Fontainebleau Resort is significant for a number of reasons, including being an extremely recognizable work of the well-known International Style architect, Morris Lapidus. Regarded as one of Lapidus' more important works, the Fontainebleau is also regarded as a work that helped define the emerging International Style of architecture, especially in South Florida.
Text references:

National Register of Historic Places Listing Record, 12/22/08

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