Washington Plaza Hotel...built by Morris Lapidus....
Morris Lapidus (November 25, 1902 – January 18, 2001) was the architect of curvy, flamboyant Neo-baroque moderne hotels that defined the 1950s 'Miami Beach' resort hotel style.
Born in Odessa, Russian Empire, his family Orthodox Jews, fled Russian pogroms to New York when he was an infant. As a young man, Lapidus toyed with theatrical set design and studied architecture at Columbia University. Lapidus worked for the prominent Beaux Arts firm of Warren and Wetmore. He worked for 20 years as a retail designer before moving to Miami Beach in the 1940s and designing his first buildings.
After a career in innovative retail interior design, his first large commission was the Miami Beach Sans Souci Hotel, followed closely by the Nautilus, the Di Lido, the Biltmore Terrace, and the Algiers, all along Collins Avenue, and amounting to the single-handed redesign of an entire district. The hotels were an immediate popular success. Then in 1952 he landed the job of the largest luxury hotel in Miami Beach, the property he is most associated with, the Fontainebleau Hotel, which was followed the next year by the equally successful Eden Roc and the Americana (now the Sheraton Bal Harbour) in 1956. The Sheraton was imploded shortly after dawn on Sunday, November 18, 2007.
The Lapidus style is idiosyncratic and immediately recognizable in photographs, derived as it was from the attention-getting techniques of commercial store design: sweeping curves, theatrically backlit floating ceilings, 'beanpoles', and the ameboid shapes that he called 'woggles', 'cheeseholes', and painter's palette shapes. His many smaller projects give Miami Beach's Collins Avenue its style, anticipating post-modernism. Beyond visual style, there is some degree of functionalism at work. His curving walls caught the prevailing ocean breezes in the era before central air-conditioning, and the sequence of his interior spaces were the result of careful attention to user experience.
The Fountainbleau was built, significantly for the future, on the site of the Harvey Firestone estate and defining the new Gold Coast of Miami Beach. The hotel provided locations for the 1960 Jerry Lewis film The Bellboy, a success for both Lewis and Lapidus, and the James Bond thriller Goldfinger (1964). Its most famous feature is the 'Staircase to Nowhere' that merely led to a coat check, but offered the opportunity to make a glittering descent into the lobby. This was followed in 1954 by the equally successful Eden Roc and the Americana (now the Sheraton Bal Harbour) in 1956.
"My whole success is I've always been designing for people, first
because I wanted to sell them merchandise. Then when I got into
hotels, I had to rethink, what am I selling now? You're selling a good
His son, architect Alan Lapidus, who worked with his father for 18 years, said, "His theory was if you create the stage setting and it's grand, everyone who enters will play their part."
Lapidus' wife of 63 years, Beatrice, died in 1992. He died nine years later, at the age of 98 in Miami Beach, Florida.