Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Edward Durell Stone in Florida

Look familiar? New Delhi? Washington? No, it is Edward Durell Stone’s signature International Style in Deerfield Beach. Deerfield Beach? Located between Boca Raton and Ft. Lauderdale, and perhaps lacking the prestige of Palm Beach and Miami, the Deerfield Lake condominium complex has retained much of its mid-1960s original design. Pictured above, the Deerfield Lake central pavilion that is currently undergoing concrete mitigation.
Edward Durell Stone in Florida: Palm Beach – Deerfield Beach – Tallahassee
By Augustus Mayhew

Recently, while I was having my Lexus serviced at Eric’s Wrench, I engaged in a rambling conversation, you remember conversation, with another RX owner. When I mentioned I was interested in architecture she told me that she lived in a complex designed by architect Edward Durell Stone with landscape design by Edward Durell Stone Jr. and Associates (EDSA). Yikes! Here I was an admirer of Stone’s work and I had to admit I had never heard of or ever seen a photograph of the Deerfield Lake condominium in Deerfield Beach. She shared her frustration that many of her fellow condo owners have expressed indifference and disregard about living in an Edward Durell Stone-designed building. Wishing her good luck, I told her that after more than a decade of involvement at the state, county and local level of historic preservation I no longer attended meetings trying to change anyone’s mind, preferring instead to take photographs.

After finding the Deerfield project’s drawings were a part of the Edward Durell Stone Papers at the University of Arkansas Special Collections, I drove to Deerfield for a look. I took the digital, though I had already told myself I was only going to find severely modified and unrecognizable buildings. Instead, I was amazed. The buildings are in near museum quality. Even so, Stone’s designs for the Miami Beach Convention Center, the Interama exposition, and Florida International University are among those most often mentioned along with the Palm Beach and Tallahassee ventures as being his principal Florida commissions.
Left: Landscape architect Edward D. Stone Jr. and his father the celebrated architect Edward Durell Stone Sr. photographed at the 400 South Ocean Boulevard condominium, Palm Beach, c. 1962. Having established his own planning and landscape architecture firm in 1960, Ed Stone Jr. also became recognized in his field, contributing as well to many of his father’s endeavors. He died in Vero Beach in 2009. Photo courtesy of Hicks Stone.
In a forthcoming “authoritative biography” of his father to be published by Rizzoli in October, New York architect Hicks Stone “explores a complex, multidimensional, and often turbulent life” that was “both celebrated and scorned … a life that was both triumphant and embittered.”
Here is a look at Edward Durell Stone’s new-to-me Deerfield complex in relation to the swank 400 condominium in Palm Beach and the stately Florida Capitol Center in Tallahassee.

The 400 condominium, 400 South Ocean Boulevard (Childs Security Corporation apartments), Palm Beach
Edward D. Stone Jr., landscape architect. Miles A. Gordon, associate architect.
The 400, south elevation. The 400 condominium building’s most recent renovation was done by Edward D. Stone’s son and biographer, architect Benjamin Hicks Stone, an NYC architect and author.
“The first apartment house designed by Edward Durell Stone is rising on an oceanfront site in Palm Beach …” states the lead into a 1962 New York Times article headlined, “Edward D. Stone designs Florida Oceanfront Suites.”

While initially conceived as rental apartments to accommodate predominately members of the Everglades Club, by the time the complex opened in December it had become Palm Beach’s, if not Florida’s, first condominium as well as one of the “first luxury condominiums in the United States.” What had begun as 64 apartments available for an annual rental of $5200 became 64 separate “castles in the sky” for sale at prices ranging from $47,000 to $103,000.
The 400, north and east elevation with the northeast corner apparently undergoing concrete mitigation on Monday afternoon August 29.
“I think it is fitting and proper that America’s foremost winter resort colony was selected as the location of one of the first luxury condominium buildings in the nation’” remarked Carl D. Schlitt, counsel for the Home Title Guaranty Company of New York, who provided the legal documentation facilitating the sale of the first units. The condominium’s legal framework was based on the New York model, called the “New York Experiment” at its beginnings.

When 200 of Palm Beach’s socially attended the 400 condominium’s opening on 18 December 1962, they found Ed Stone’s International-style blueprint accommodated a penthouse dining room, one-floor garden apartments and two-story duplex units featuring a distinctive central courtyard with fountains and statuary “open to the sky,” rooftop swimming pool, guest apartments, maids rooms, and switchboard service. With landscape design by the architect’s son Edward Durell Stone Jr., the interior décor was the work of Antoinette Johnson of the Johnson and Taylor decorating firm. “Magnificent in its simplicity and chasteness,” remarked local architect John Volk on the world-renown architect’s dazzling aesthetic interplay of form and function.
The 400’s west elevation port cochere entrance. The 400, sculptural work set atop a marble base in the courtyard water feature.
The 400, courtyard water garden feature.
The 400, views from the outside looking in towards the courtyard from the north and south pedestrian gates.
The 400, from the inside looking out across the courtyard water feature towards the west elevation’s port cochere entrance.
The 400, east elevation facing the ocean.
Deerfield Lake condominium (Koff Apartments), 777 Southeast 2nd Avenue, Deerfield Beach
Edward D. Stone Jr., landscape architect.

However much Deerfield Lake’s more modest 700-1,200-sq.-ft. apartments priced from $35,000-$140,000 do not measure up to their several million dollar Palm Beach counterparts, they are no less of an architectural tour de force by one of the world’s most notable 20th-century architects. For this relatively secluded U-shaped complex, Stone designed a detached rectangular central pavilion flanked by two three-story linear condominium buildings separated by a tropical landscape replete with a swimming pool set as a centerpiece for a surrounding lake. Nearly a half-century and several hurricanes later, Deerfield Lake reflects much of its original design as well as serves as a portent for several of Stone’s more well-recognized future designs.
South building, east elevation.
South building, looking northwest into the entrance courtyard.
South building, east and north elevations.
South building, east and south elevation where it appears to lack a cantilevered carport roof that is attached to the north building.
South building, courtyard.
South building, courtyard landscape. South building, courtyard, looking west.
The towering banyan on the south side remains while to the north of the central pavilion a plaque indicates the loss of another banyan to Hurricane Wilma.
Highlighted by what appear to be original Stone-designed benches, walkways provide pathways around the central lake with the swimming pool set in the center.
Each apartment has a screened patio overlooking the lake. The two flanking buildings are divided into two sections by open staircases.
The redwood bridge railing appears to be an original Stone design leading onto the island with the pool and cabana.
An irregular geometric pool is set on an island in the middle of the lake between the two large rectangular three-story apartment buildings.
The central pavilion’s balconies and open halls are undergoing concrete mitigation.
North Building, east and north elevations with the cantilevered carport.
North building, east elevation facing Southeast 2nd Avenue.
North building, east elevation facing Southeast 2nd Avenue.
North building, courtyard landscape.
North building, courtyard landscape. North building, carport open skylights.
North building, east and south elevations.
Florida State Capitol Complex, Tallahassee, Florida
Edward D. Stone Jr., landscape architect
One of several scale models Edward Durell Stone presented in 1969 for the proposed Florida Capitol Center in Tallahassee. Photo courtesy State of Florida Archives.
When Edward Durell Stone was selected to design Florida’s new Capitol Center in 1968 he was heralded as “the Frank Lloyd Wright of his day” and “represents what is contemporary to middle America,” according to contemporaneous newspaper reports. After the first phase was completed, his work became the subject of criticism and controversy, accused of having defiled the traditions of the “Old South.” In my recent conversations with then Governor Reuben Askew, he said he had no regrets about the Modernist work, as at the time Florida was the fastest growing state in the nation and Stone’s work best-expressed Florida as a progressive state.

Just as Stone’s earliest influential work, the Mandel house, was considered “a radical departure from the conventional house in plan, construction and materials” before it became a standard for Modernism, the state’s International-style Capitol Center was conceived as an aesthetic leap from Florida’s century-old reliance on architectural historicism. As one of the legendary architect’s last monumental works, Stone’s concrete, glass, and steel forms evolved from some of his familiar designs, among them, the U. S. Embassy in New Delhi, SUNY- Albany campus, the World Trade Center in New Orleans, the nation’s first world trade center, and perhaps the most enduring, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
The complex was constructed atop a raised level podium with the soaring Capitol Tower as the focal point rising out of the roof plane of the flanking five-story domed House and Senate chambers to the north and the south. Each of these legislative bodies connected to identical office buildings forming a plaza with the existing Historic Capitol. The old Capitol’s architect Frank Pierce Milburn patterned the ornamental Beaux-Arts “temple-and-cupola” style on Old South statehouses and courthouses, described by Stone as “elegance dependent upon the dead glamour of the past.”
The House and Senate Office Buildings have interior walkways connecting it with the Capitol Tower. Built for $45 million, the 700,000 sq. ft. Capitol Center‘s five buildings accommodate more than 5,000 people daily when the Legislature is in session.
The 22-story Capitol Tower’s expansive concrete walls are sculpted into columns by alternating bands of exterior louvered sunshades that grill the vertical narrow windows. The Senate and House of Representatives utilize floors two through four of the Capitol Tower’s base; their Legislative chambers are on the fourth floor with the public viewing galleries on the floor above the chambers. Executive and legislative offices fill the 5th-22nd floors with the top-floor observation deck located more than 500 feet above sea level.
Unlike its Senate building counterpart, the four-story House Office Building is approached by stepping down into a sunken garden.
Set atop a terraced staircase, the Senate Office Building is located south of the Historic Capitol.
The Senate Office Building (left), Capitol Tower (center) and Historic Capitol (right) contrast the 19th-century’s affection for the picturesque with the 20th-century’s utilitarian synthesis of form and function.
Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.
Click here for NYSD Contents