Friday, September 25, 2015

Miami Social Diary

Prominent Cuban art dealer Ramon Cernuda at his Coral Gables office. After a 55-year standoff, US-Cuban diplomatic and cultural relations are on the brink of being restored as 20th century Cuban artists may finally receive the appreciation they have long deserved alongside their European counterparts. Mr. Cernuda has been a longtime supporter of Cuba's artistic community.
Foreign Capital: Miami State of Mind
By Augustus Mayhew


Bienvenido Miami!

At this moment Miami's volatile real estate market driven by offshore billions continues to climb flooded by a tsunami of euros, pesos and rubles. World economies may wobble but going crazy on Brickell Avenue or Ocean Drive is still considered sensible. When compared to Rio, Kiev and Athens, Miami's steel-and-glass towers and guarded residential islands remain a sought-after refuge no matter how much prices are padded with amenities like outdoor fire pits and virtual butlers and kited with contracts where the seller is the buyer, or how many times the property was flipped before it is built.

Here is a look at the priciest on Lincoln Road and the most notorious on Palm Island before a perusal of Cuba's first Miami consulate, now regarded as Miami's most haunted house. Then, on to Coral Gables for an opening at Cernuda Arte, a showcase for Cuba's finest Modern and Contemporary art, and receptions at the University of Miami's School of Architecture and the university's Cuban Heritage Collection, where its facility was made possible through the generosity of former Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman Robert C. Goizueta, philanthropist Elena Díaz-Versón Amos, and the Fanjul Family.
September 9 – 6:15 pm. The University of Miami's School of Architecture (SoA) Tecnoglass Lecture Series, themed Miami and the Tropical World, presented contemporary architect Enrique Norten's program in what may be the most academic and anachronistic building on campus — Glasgow Hall at The Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center. The 8,600 square-foot $6 million multi-functional complex built in 2005 was designed from sketches by Leon Krier, New Urbanism and New Classicism's foremost theorist, along with Merrill Pastor & Colgan AIA - Architects and Natividad Soto AIA - Ferguson, Glasgow, Shuster & Soto. The Luxembourg-born Krier was the Spring 2015 Robert A. M. Stern Professor at Yale School of Architecture,
$370,000,000
1001-1035 Lincoln Road – Miami Beach


Amancio Ortega, Forbes magazine's #4 richest billionaire and owner of Spain's #1 company Inditex, including the Zara fashion house, is reported to have bought the 1001-1035 Lincoln Road block last week for $370 million through Playa Retail Investments, a Miami-based entity linked to Ortega's Madrid company Ponte Gadea. The 75,000 square-feet of retail space incudes the Apple store, Gap and a soon-to-open Nike outlet. With more than 1,700 locations worldwide and 50 store in the US, Zara opened a South Beach two-story flagship store last year at 420 Lincoln Road. The sale to Ortega makes for the area's largest commercial sale since Dubai World, an emirate-owned conglomerate, chipped in $375 million in 2008 for a share/partnership of the Soffer-owned 1,500-room Fontainebleau Hotel. Five years later, Dubai World sold their 50% interest back to the Soffer interest.
1035 Lincoln Road. Nike's new corner location will possibly feature a rooftop basketball court; previous tenants, Pottery Barn & Williams-Sonoma, relocated.
1021 Lincoln Road. Apple is the block's centerpiece.
1001 Lincoln Road. The GAP store had a recent makeover.
South Beach Panorama
Beverly Hills & Palm Beach may be RR's ground zero but Miami Beach has a highly visible RR presence. The new Rolls Royce models are "getting sexier," according to RR Ltd. CEO Torsten Muller-Oetvoes.
Old and New Miami Beach. A two-story catwalk apartment house is dwarfed by a new tower. South of Fifth Street was not included in the historic district, thus densities are maximized without much regard for adjacent properties.
The 22-story Apogee.
Opened in the late 1980s, the 44-story Portofino Tower, center building, was one of the first South of Fifth monoliths.
93 Palm
Villa Capone, Palm Island – Miami Beach
www.93palm.com


The media spotlight never dimmed during the more than 20 years Al Capone, America's Public Enemy #1, and his family owned 93 Palm Avenue on Miami Beach's exclusive Palm Island. Monica Melotti and Marco Bruzzi, representatives for Carol Investments USA Inc., 93 Palm's current owner, are updating the estate and reviving interest in the property's provenance. Melotti and Bruzzi's company is restaging the waterfront compound as a location for photo and video productions and special events venue as they have done at several other locations. Organized as MB America in 2013, Melotti, a registered architect in Italy, acts as chief designer for the projects and Bruzzi is the company's CEO. In Milan's Navigli District, the couple transformed a Ginori factory into W37, a complex of lofts, apartments, offices, and event space. On South Beach, the couple are managing The Orchid House. In Wynwood, the current Miami Shores residents converted a 34,000 square-foot warehouse into SpacebyThree, a performance-event area on North Miami Avenue.
93 Palm features no ordinary front door. After ringing the bell, arrivals waited until one of Capone's factotums opened one of the panels and identified the expected guest before opening the gate.
Formed in 1919, Palm Island was one of several manmade islands built during the post-WW I land boom. Clarence M. Busch, no relation to the prominent St. Louis Busch brewery family, and his wife novelist Bonnie Melbourne Busch had spent several winters at Miami Beach before they built their home on Palm Island. While his wife spent her time writing and hosting teas and benefits, Busch speculated in real estate, building a 6,000 square-foot, L-shaped villa across the street from their estate at 93 Palm Avenue. The Hurricane of 1926 hit Miami directly causing not only structural damage but also hurt the real estate market. After leasing the house for several seasons, Busch decided to sell the house in 1928.

According to various reports, the house was sold for $40,000 to an individual who then conveyed the title to Mae and Al Capone. Word spread quickly; the uproar by local, county and state officials was unrelenting for several years. Although Capone was finishing a prison stint, not arriving until 1930, work began on improvements. A seven-foot wall bordered the grounds with a coral rock grotto and waterfall added along the south side. A two-story gatehouse was erected on Palm Avenue. A large swimming pool and two-story casino were built on the property's northwest corner overlooking Biscayne Bay. A large dock and boathouse were installed on the bay side.
93 Palm Avenue, c. 1930. The compound after the Capone family finished their improvements. The west side of Palm island housed the notorious Latin Quarter nightclub and Casino. In 1940, Lou Walters took over the Latin Quarter. When it burned in 1959, the land reverted to residential use only Courtesy State Archives of Florida.
Al Capone, right, with a bodyguard was a familiar presence at Miami Beach nightclubs and restaurants until he was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for income tax evasion. The headline reference to Carlton was to Governor Doyle Carlton who promised constituents he would do something about the "Capone problem." Nonetheless, Capone returned to the Palm Avenue house after his release. Courtesy State Archives of Florida.
In a 25 March 1930 personal letter to Governor Carlton, Clarence Busch pleaded for the governor to take action to rid Miami Beach of Capone as a public nuisance. Writing for the other residents on the island unable to sell their properties, Busch wrote of hearing gunshots and being kept up by dusk-to-dawn parties, telling the governor that Capone spent $70,000 building a fortress with a boat dock big enough "for a ferry boat."
Shortly after this January 1947 headline, Capone died at the house. In 1952 Mae Capone sold the property for $64,000 to Thomas Mitchell. One of Capone's nieces is reported to have written a screenplay, "telling the truth about Al Capone."
The two-story gatehouse. In 2011, 93 Palm sold for $5.65 million. Two years later, it sold again at $7.4 million. In April 2014, that owner sold it for $7.9 million to Carol Investments USA, a company represented/managed by Marco Bruzzi and Monica Melotti's MB America.
The estate's original coral rock waterfall and grotto are being restored.
Monica Melotti and Marco Bruzzi, principals of MB America.
The villa's original façade. Following the Hurricane of 1926, the roof, awnings and windows were probably replaced, giving the house more of a 1930s look.
North and west elevations, looking toward the gatehouse.
New plant materials have been added that complement the existing landscape.
Pool and casino, looking north.
Pool and casino looking northeast. The pool's depth ranges from three to eight feet.
Casino and interior staircase.
Pool casino looking northwest.
Swimming pool and deck, looking southeast.
Al and Mae Capone's 30-by-60 pool and two-story casino were reported to have been inspired by the Biltmore Hotel's pool designed for platform diving exhibitions and aquacades.
From atop the casino, looking down toward the pool and the gatehouse.
From the casino, view north to Hibiscus Island.
Along the 100-feet of waterfront, a view northeast to Hibiscus Island and east to South Beach. The Capones kept a cabin cruiser docked for family outings.
Several times daily, the tourist boats pass by from afar.
From the dock, view west to the bridge connecting Palm Island and Hibiscus Island with Miami's skyline beyond.
Monica Melotti and Marco Bruzzi, MB America's CDO and CEO.
Leaving Palm Island, the center fountain and roundabout.
Crossing Palm Island bridge looking south to the NCL Norwegian Sky docked at the Port of Miami.
Modern (Vanguardia) Cuban Masters @ Cernuda Arte
3155 Ponce De Leon Blvd – Coral Gables
www.cernudaarte.com

Ramon and Nercys Cernuda have become as prominent, and sometimes as controversial, as the influential Cuban artists' whose works they exhibit and promote. In April 1988, Ramon Cernuda said, "How can anyone think artist Rene Portocarrero's name can be removed from Cuba's cultural heritage? It is censorship, pure and simple ... The day will come when we Cubans can put aside all intolerance and censorship." At the time,, Cernuda's exhibition of Cuban art was met with threats and firebombs. Within days of these attacks, US Attorney Dexter Lehtinen seized Cernuda's collection of 220 paintings only to return them one year later when the US District Court of Appeals ruled the confiscation was illegal, a violation of Cernuda's First Amendment rights. "This is a vote for freedom and the death of those in this city who wish to impose limits on freedom of political and artistic expression, said Cernuda in September 1989.

After meeting Ramon and Nercys Cernuda at the Art Basel and Art Miami fairs during the past several years, last week I had the pleasure to visit their Coral Gables gallery.
Cernuda Arte's Ponce de Leon Boulevard location makes it accessible from anywhere in the Gables or Coconut Grove.
The gallery's first floor featured a selection of works from the Cuban Vanguard "as championed by Dr. Guy Perez-Cisneros (1915-1953)." Perez-Cisneros was a Cuban diplomat and art critic whose papers are housed at the University of Miami.
Nercys Cernuda.
Rafael Moreno (1887-1955) The Havana Country Club, c. 1945. $38,000.
The second floor gallery featured the work of Modern and Contemporary artists.
Fidelio Ponce de León. Katrina, 1938. Born in 1895 in Camaguey, the artist studied at the San Alejandro Academy (1913-1918). His work received awards from Havana's National Salon and the Salon of Modern Art before exhibiting in New York. The Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired his work Mujeres as part of its permanent collection.
Mario Carreno (1913-1999). Still Life with Fish, 1945. $340,000.
Rene Portocarrero (1912-1985) Rosaura in Men's Attire, 1948. (Detail). $36,000.
Eduardo Abela (1889-1965). Surrealist Dream, c. 1953. $18,000. Provenance: estate of Hanna Abela.
Eduardo Abela (1889-1965).
The first floor gallery features the work of Cundo Bermudez, Amelia Pelaez and Carlos Enriquez.
Mario Carreno's painting Exorcismo en el Lago was featured at Cernuda Arte's exhibition "Remembering Cuba through its Art."
Villa Paula
Consulate of the Republic of Cuba, c.1926-1930s
5811 North Miami Avenue – Little Haiti


"Did you see the tomb?" asked Enrique, the property caretaker and artist, as I was finishing my visit to Villa Paula, a Neoclassical-style villa built during the 1920s as a consulate by the Cuban government .

"The tomb?" I responded.

"Paula. She is buried in the backyard. Last week a woman was so possessed by her and had to leave …"

Hey, this is Miami where Santería priests are consulted and Botanica shops are frequented. I wasn't planning to lead an architectural history feature with a photograph of a tomb. But, here is what has come to be known as "Miami's most haunted house."
Paula Milord, the wife of Cuban Consul Domingo J. Milord, was believed to have been buried in the southeast corner of her own backyard in 1932, having died under mysterious circumstances with only one leg. During my recent visit, the site was adorned with various bouquets of plastic flowers. According to contemporaneous newspaper records, Paula Milord died in September 1932 while having her leg amputated at Jackson Memorial Hospital and was buried at Miami's Woodlawn Park cemetery.
Although Cuba established its first consulate in Miami in 1916, a decade passed before building a more permanent architectural presence to house its diplomatic interests. Designed by a Havana architect, named only C. Freira, the consul was built completely with construction materials shipped from Cuba, including bricks, tiles, and windows, installed by native Cuban craftsmen.

Each of the rooms represented a different Cuban province, thus the variety of floor tiles, according to Joe Chirichigno, whose business card identifies him as Villa Paula's art director and artist-in-residence. Surprisingly, the villa's interior still retains much of its original character; the exterior's yellow bricks were covered in stucco.

Domingo J. Milord, a former vice-consul for Cuba and Spain based in Key West, moved into the house with his piano-playing wife Paula. Following Paula's death and the ensuing economic depression, Cuba closed the consulate sometime during the mid-1930s. After a series of owners and uses, Villa Paula developed a notoriety the anti-Castro Cuban community must have found suitable — Miami's most haunted house. In 1976, when Villa Paula was offered for $110,000, there was said to be the ghost of a "tall olive-skinned lady in black with ruffled sleeves and neckline …" In 1985, two years after being designated a local historic landmark ("'small Cuban government building transplanted to Miami"), the house was again for sale. This time there were tales of a "one-legged female ghost," as well as unexplained wind gusts, door knocks, pungent odors, rattles, crashes, and the mysterious death of three cats. After the property sold for $275,000 in 2003, flowers began appearing at the supposed backyard grave site.
Villa Paula's name remains etched on the building's façade. During the 1960s the Cuban consulate in downtown Miami was attacked by demonstrators and firebombed while Villa Paula has survived the century's hurricanes and redevelopment waves, now located a few blocks north of the Design District.
A low wall separates Villa Paula from the sidewalk along Little Haiti's North Miami Avenue.
South elevation.
With many of its original architectural elements, Villa Paula's original exterior front portico tile is notable.
Front portico, exterior tile.
The mahogany windows were crated in Cuba; the tile was also imported from the island.
Exterior, decorative tile.
Crafted in Cuba, the mahogany windows feature multi-colored glass panes.
Great Hall.
Great Hall, tile pattern.
Simply sensational tile!
1920s Cuban tile.
Each room features a different exhilarating pattern.
Tile pattern.
Tile pattern with border.
Tile pattern.
Tile pattern.
Tile pattern.
Backyard shrine, believed by some to be Paula Milord's final resting place although her tombstone is firmly ensconced at a local cemetery.
Villa Paula's north elevation, seen from the original gazebo.
The gazebo features a terrazzo floor.
On the north lawn, a garden statue view of the gazebo.
Our Man in Havana, movie poster.
Cuban Heritage Collection
Richter Library – Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion
University of Miami – Coral Gables

The Cuban Heritage Collection (CHC) is one of the world's largest and most comprehensive collections on Cuba and its diaspora. The CHC's rare books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, prints, posters, audiovisual materials, newspapers and journals, and other research materials are housed in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, named in honor of the late Cuban-American CEO and Chairman of Coca-Cola. The Pavilion is a 10,000 square-foot facility located on the second floor of UM's Richter Library.
Last week the CHC hosted a lecture and reception focused on the role of Cuban television before and after the Revolution.
A wall plaque honors CHC's contributors.
Protesta de Baragua, a painting by Enrique Caravia, is exhibited in the Fanjul Gallery.
Mei Mendez, director of UM's Cuban Heritage Collection.
Yeidy Rivero's new book Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Television, 1950-1960 was the program's topic.
Jorge Duany, director of FIU's Cuban research Institute, introduced the evening's program "Broadcasting Modernity."
Architect Enrique Norten at Glasgow Hall
The Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center
University of Miami – Coral Gables


With two distinct residential complexes on Miami Beach nearing completion and a mixed-use building under construction in Miami's Design District, Mexico City-New York starchitect Enrique Norten, principal of the firm TEN Architectos, was an opportune speaker for the University of Miami School of Architecture's Tecnoglass Lecture Series held at Glasgow Hall. For the past seven years Norten has held the University of Pennsylvania's Miller Chair in Architecture, having taught at Yale, UCLA, Cornell, Parsons, Pratt Institute, and Harvard. In Miami, Norten's splendid designs can be appreciated for their in-fill compatibility and extravagant restraint.
Mexico-native Enrique Norten has received the Smithsonian's Legacy Award and the 2005 World Cultural Council's Leonardo da Vinci Award of Arts as well as being Latin America's first architect bestowed the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Award.
Norten's designs for 321 Ocean Drive-Miami Beach included a five-story Ocean Drive building and a nine-story oceanfront tower.
321 Ocean Drive. Front building, West and south elevations.
321 Ocean Drive. Front building, northwest corner. Security guards did not permit any closer access to the building. 321 Ocean Drive. Nine-story tower, east elevation. View from across the pedestrian path separating the building from the beach.
Design 41, under construction. Enrique Norten & TEN Architects. Design District, Miami. With a rooftop restaurant planned, the complex features offices and ground floor shops, described as "Think VIP Bespoke Retail" according to website. Miami's Design District is said to be "America's hottest style destination" and " … the crown jewel of the hemisphere."
Jorge M. Perez Architecture Center
University of Miami – Coral Gables
One of Prince Charles' favored designers, Leon Krier's design exemplifies the triumph of classicism
North and West elevations. Described as " … a living lesson in architecture and urban design" by UM's longtime SoA director Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, the building's impact appears to be more didactic than aesthetic.
Stanley & Jewell Glasgow Lecture Hall, view from the back of the hall to the front. A UM alumnus, Mr. Glasgow was an architect.
Glasgow Hall, view from the front to the back. The 145-seat venue has a distinct European ambiance.
Glasgow Hall.
Glasgow Hall.
Enrique Norten spoke from a lectern designed by Leon Krier and students from UM's School of Architecture. To Norten's right, panels for an exhibit on Classicism.
Heterodoxia: Continuity of Tradition in Modernity, exhibit panel, partial. For me, this is very much an ivory tower perspective.
In Glasgow Hall's reception area, a Renaissance lantern placed in a lighted niche. Inspiration, perhaps.
East and south elevations of the octagonal lecture hall.
The Irvin Korach gallery-exhibition space adjacent to Glasgow Hall.
Though referred to as a "freestanding loggia," the appendage on the west side of the "basilica-like gallery space" appears to be more of an arcade or colonnade. My understanding of a loggia has always been more of an outdoor living room enclosed on three sides.
A row of shade trees amid the School of Architecture's Midcentury Modern classrooms leading to the Krier-designed Perez Architecture Center.
University of Miami Panorama
Across from the Richter Library, the Cox Science complex is a building the late Alfred Browning Parker may have liked.
Donna Shalala Student Center. 2013 Arquitectonica, architect. Late afternoon view across Lake Osceola from the School of Architecture.
Leaving the campus, a windshield snapshot of the university's theater named for Jerry Herman, truly one of the most wonderful people to work with on several productions during my backstage years in the theater world. If only playgoers had liked Mack and Mabel as much as all the other Herman hits.
Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Lost in Wonderland – Reflections on Palm Beach.