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Miami's Ainsley Building, Architectural Avant-Garde of 1952

The Ainsley Building was one of the most modern buildings in the United States when it opened in 1952. That was the same year as the Lever House, famed as the first glass curtain wall skyscraper in New York City, or to put it more simply, the first glass box tower in New York, and a very advanced building. The Ainsley, with its finely detailed glass curtain walls, thick sunshades on the south facade, and recessed rooftop penthouse, is the Lever House on vacation: just as modern, but more fun.

When the International Style/Mies Van der Rohe/High Modernist/Glass Box/Mad Men school of Modernist Architecture (with a capital M to suit inflated architectural egos) reached New York in the early 1950s it was still very much unknown in the United States, The new skyscrapers that sprouted all over midtown Manhattan, like the Lever House and the Seagram Building, were the leaders of the pack. In fact, the Lever House was so early that proper glass curtain wall sealant materials hadn't been invented yet, and the building became well known for its leaks.

But that was New York. Miami, still a pip-squeak of a city, embraced an architect named Morris Lapidus that the New York architectural establishment considered a bit of an idiot at best, and something approximating the devil at worst. They even hosted a national AIA convention at one of his Miami Beach hotels (the Americana to be exact) just to spend the whole convention making fun of him. Ada Louise Huxtable, the grand dame of architecture critics, said lambasted his work in a piece titled "Every Room is Lapidus in Bloom." Since then his hotels, including the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc Resorts, have been accepted by the architectural establishment as the great designs they are, and precursors to the postmodern movement by decades, but what about his office buildings?

More shots of the Ainsley:

Ainsley Building

14 NE 1st Avenue, Miami, Florida