Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Urbane Developments: Miami & Delray

Les Quatre Chefs, “The Four Chefs.” Oil on canvas, 36” x 90.” $30,000 USD. Philippe Breton, artist. To the right, Martial Ricart, gallerist of the Ricart Gallery located in the center of Miami’s Design District. Whether on canvas or in the kitchen, chefs are at the center of Miami and Delray Beach’s ongoing redevelopment.
Urbane Developments: Miami’s Design District & Delray Beach’s Downtown
Text & Photographs by Augustus Mayhew

Worth Avenue and Lincoln Road are among South Florida’s iconic destinations where connoisseurs with a taste for tradition and trend gravitate, if only to take a brief pause from the gruel of social media. Yet, there are other notable zones amidst this concrete-and-palm tree autometropolis, among them, Bal Harbor, Miracle Mile, Las Olas, and Mizner Park, that may not always garner the same heat and traffic but are nonetheless formidable attractions.

Whether the Wynwood Arts District ever achieves the same aura of bliss and escape once realized by Coconut Grove may still be on the drawing boards but just to the north of the latest Tony Goldman magnum opus, on the other side of Interstate-195’s elevated multi-lane arterial, Miami’s designated Design District (MDD) appears to be undergoing further refinement. And, forty-five minutes north of the MDD, Delray Beach’s ongoing redevelopment offers a poles-apart contrast.

A Miami Design District landmark.
The MDD is primarily the vision of Craig Robins and his Dacra Realty (“variety of entities and brands”); Delray Beach’s efforts seems to be a more multi-level committee-styled effort. If last Saturday night’s pedestrian traffic is any indication, the more sophisticated Miami cognoscenti might just want to tap into whatever it is drawing large crowds, including South Beach and NYC restaurant and club owners, to Delray Beach’s mix.

Here is a look at some of the various “four-wall” slants to development that I found this past week in Miami’s Design District and Delray Beach’s downtown.

Miami Design District (MDD)

Located within an approximate ten-block area from Northeast 38th to 42nd Streets between North Miami Avenue and Second Avenue, the MDD has spent the past two decades sharing the spotlight with the more clearly-defined Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) and its more than 150 showrooms, despite veteran developer Craig Robins’ several strategic efforts to reposition the MDD on the international design map as a of primary destination. Yes, Michael’s Genuine is a stellar attraction; the De la Cruz Collection is of note. According to the MDD web site, the Robins/Dacra formula “uses architecture, art, design, and cultural programming to build a creative international destination.” LV recently announced it would open a venue in the MDD, joining Tomas Maier and others, in adding perhaps a Bal Harbor touch, “luxury retail,” to the MDD’s umbrella that already includes the influential prestigious DesignMiami/.com 20th-21st-century collectible fair (DesignMiami/Basel and DesignMiami/Miami Beach).
Anima Domus features all things Italian and Knoll’s Bertoia Collection. I’m intrigued by the notion of the “concept” of home. Genius Jones, “the ultimate” design store for children.
In case you are in the market to join Michael’s Genuine.
Adam Wolfson at the front desk of 101/Exhibit during Saturday night’s monthly event in the Design District.
Nude. Ruben Ubiera, artist. $6,000 USD. 101/Exhibit.
Robot Gauge, by Paul Ocepek from Art Thingys at Bobby Berk Home. $105 USD each. In this techno-virtual world in which we live, I find robotics fascinating.
A tableau at Bobby Berk Home in the Design District.
Christopher Reyner and Jacqueline Salcedo soaking up a Saturday night in the Miami Design District.
Venezuelan artist Eli Pimentel’s landscapes at Art Fusion.
Former NYC artist Emily Grieco has relocated to Miami, “having grown up across the street from The Met,” and whose work can also be found hanging at the Art Fusion gallery.
Andrea Lugo was manning the front desk at Mai Tardi, a popular spot, one of the district’s most captivating designs. Years ago there was once a place nearby called Food Among the Flowers where we held many opening night parties that were wonderful.
Mai Tardi’s colorful façade, actually one of the Design District’s few that caught my eye where the focus appears to be more on interior showrooms than completely reformulating streets with an array of plate-glass windows. More the district’s buildings should be inspired by the lively Bacardi buildings on Biscayne Boulevard. Published in 2008, Ron Galella’s book was in a shop window. I was unable to snap celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein who the manager said was at one of her other restaurants when I stopped by Sra. Martinez on Saturday night. Michael Schwartz, “culinary innovator” of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, was “very busy, he is expediting, could you come back later …” said his front desk when I made an unannounced stop. Admittedly, Michael’s was SRO, like sardines; on the patio, there were maybe 50 people waiting for tables or elbow-room at the bar.
At Etra Fine Art, formerly of NYC, gallery director Stefano Campanini could be seen alongside a Hunt Slonem butterflies painting, $34,000 USD, with a weighty provenance that was much too complex for me to write down.
Just in case you wondered what happened to goatskin …
Baltus, with showrooms in LA, Chicago, and Miami.
An interestingly eclectic look at the Poltrona Frau showroom.
Delray Beach’s Downtown & Pineapple Grove

Delray Beach juggles a varied range of structural and populist cultural elements, reconfiguring a 21st-century ambience with a dash of Disneyesque theme park, a patchwork of history, a binge of New Urbanism, mixed with shots of Bourbon Street and Margaritaville, a spritz of storefront salons and a splurge of edgy bistros. The Kentucky House, the Patio Delray, and the old Delray movie theater are gone, as are many vestiges from when Delray Beach was a low-key seaside seasonal resort fifteen minutes south of Palm Beach, replaced today by Wi-Fi, sushi dens, Cupcake Couture, and coffee shops.
Designed by architect Martin Luther Hampton in 1926, the once seasonal Mission-style Colony Hotel is now open year-round. Hampton worked for Addison Mizner’s atelier on Worth Avenue before moving to Miami Beach where he designed several significant civic buildings. A popular seasonal resort for decades, the Colony Hotel was once a focal point for the town’s cottage colony
One of the few remaining authentic cottages in the downtown that once defined the village’s character, this Fourth Avenue house has become an exception rather than part of the prevailing building stock.
Former Mainer Max Bogle’s pre-WW I Del-Ida Park cottage reflects the eclecticism that once set Delray Beach apart. An in-demand carpenter in Gulf Stream and the Village of Golf, Bogle’s playful Caribbean palette adds to Delray’s unexpected tin-roof charm. In Bogle’s backyard, a shaded hammock attached to a mango tree overlooks an underwater mural. Until recently when suburban multi-story buildings were introduced into the downtown area, Delray Beach had a unique design history.
Above: Located along Delray Beach’s Intracoastal Waterway, the Palm Trail Yacht Club was designed by Alfons Bach, one of NYC’ s leading Mid-century Modernist designers.

Left: For the nearby Palm Trail shops, Alfons Bach attached a wall sculpture by Mondinari, an Italian artist.

Below: Although best known for his Yale School of Architecture, Paul Rudolph’s International-style Florida houses were of particular note, including the steel-constructed Sewell C. Biggs house in Delray Beach.

Having survived a recent addition to its original rear elevation that is now the front, by the house’s present owner notable interior designer Virginia Courtenay, Mr. Biggs’ aesthetic legacy has long since moved on to the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware. But rather than build on the scale of Delray’s existing character during the past decade, the town opted for “New Urbanism.” constructs.
A splurge of multi-story suburban-styled condominiums can be found throughout the town’s historic core.
Despite development pressures along Atlantic Avenue, Doc’s has somehow remained a part of the downtown framework, as has the popular Green Owl café. Located at the geographic center of Delray Beach, my grandfather would take me to Doc’s after school before walking me home from my first grade classroom across the street.
The town’s pre-WW I built school was also my first-grade classroom, located on the first-floor to the right of the Crayon box, what is now the Cornell Museum of Art and American Culture. As the first chairman of the town’s Historic Preservation Board in 1988, I was involved in the first restoration of what became Old School Square, the town’s centerpiece for redevelopment, that has since undergone several reincarnations. What I had thought of as a local community center has become more of a regional theme park destination.
Yes, that’s me on the left holding a photo of Mary Sanford, as curator of the museum’s first show on the history of polo at Phipps Field in Gulf Stream. To my right, Jody Shipley Buerk and Alex Speer. Lunch at The Spot across from Old School Square with Liz Steele Forman, communications consultant for the Delray Beach Preservation Trust. Liz is also the creative force of
The Old School Square facility includes this Sam Ogren Sr.-designed 1920's building and gymnasium.
Across the street, at what is now the DaDa Restaurant, is the town’s first mixed-use building in a historic district, with what was my office in the front left and a bed-and-breakfast inn for the rest of the house. Back then, I spent much-too-much time carrying papers back-and-forth to City Hall and attending meetings.
The Queen Anne-styled Sundy House has undergone a considerable transformation, now a luxury resort owned by publishing heir Thomas Worrell, since I first represented the Sundy family and worked towards gaining the approvals to convert it into a café and antique shop. Then, the late Jeff Willard, “Chef Jeff,” came up from Key West, his Pigeon House Café having sold to actress Kelly McGillis, bringing with him Martha Batista’s cookbook, the wife of the former Cuban dictator, with her Queen of All Puddings recipe.
Today, the Sundy House, along with Worrell’s El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa in Taos, is recognized as one of the world’s leading “Eco-Resorts.”
The Taru Gardens might just be among the most serene sanctuaries with an Olmsted sense of scale.
Inspired by the Yucatan’s cenotes, the Sundy House pool is at the center of the Taru Gardens.
The pool is composed of several connected cenotes of various depths.
The gardens are simply sensational, if not among South Florida’s great escapes. The Sundy family’s former apartments and cottages have been converted into quite comfortable guest accommodations.
If you don’t have time for Bali, the Sundy House gardens may be just the spot.
Fish-filled streams run throughout the gardens, separating the main house from the more jungle-like settings.
The Sundy House’s more than century-old royal poinciana tree is where we once held a month-long festival celebrating the annual bloom. It was great fun.
The entrance feature to Pineapple Grove on Northeast 2nd Avenue, a mixed-use redevelopment area adjacent to and north of the East Atlantic Avenue shopping and entertainment district.
A vernacular pre-WW I commercial building with a rusticated block façade along Atlantic Avenue displays a decorative mural by Anita Lovitt in collaboration with Brent Miller at the entrance to Pineapple Grove.
While every other storefront appears to be a salon and/or spa, the Paradise is also a café.
Kyle Bojan, manager of Segway Tours of Delray Beach. Owner Denise Morris flexes her charm at the United State of Fitness, the area’s go-to gym, and can usually be found on a treadmill, the Stairmaster, or actually working out with one of her own personal trainers.
Pineapple Grove streets are embellished with colorful artworks.
The transformation of the Ocean City Lumber Company into a mixed-use commercial center is one of South Florida’s most notable aesthetic redevelopments.
As part of the Ocean City development, the town’s original Flagler-era train depot was moved and restored by the Delray Beach Historical Society.
In Pineapple Grove, Jo Janeen Timmis, executive director of the recently-opened Puppet Center and Theatre.
LL Bean granddaughter Linda Bean, Maine’s First Lady of Lobster, has clawed her way to the top of Maine’s signature industry. Above, her Delray Beach café on East Atlantic Avenue.
The Blue Anchor was a 19th-century Chancery Lane pub, dismantled and shipped to the US in 1996, and reassembled on Delray’s East Atlantic Avenue. It may not have the provenance of a work by Jean Prouve but provides just the right anachronistic touch to the downtown.
Blue Anchor, corner detail.
The town’s most appreciated talked-about restaurant fare. After being directed online to make an e-mail inquiry, I received no response to a request for a photo of their chef.
Delux is a club next to 32 East. The Buddha Sky Bar for those who like their martinis straight-up.
Kevro’s Art Bar offers an offbeat Old Delray atmosphere.
A daytime view of the Colony Hotel’s East Atlantic Avenue façade.
The lobby at the Colony Hotel.
At the recently opened Max’s Harvest, the latest venture from the ubiquitous Dennis Max, chef Patrick Broadhead keeps the kitchen on the restaurant’s “from farm to fork” message on a Friday afternoon.
At Max’s Harvest, Broadhead works with executive chef Chris Miracolo and general manager Peter Stampone in advancing the “local is global” message.
Made from seashells and tin, this rustic backyard landscape found in Max Bogle’s backyard is a reminder of the pleasures that were once South Florida’s main attractions.

Photographs by Augustus Mayhew.
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