Like all cities, Miami is in a constant state of flux as its inhabitants shape new neighborhoods along its coastal face. Take for example the recent blossoming of Surfside on the city’s northern tip—a pristine strip of beach—nestled between the bustle of Miami Beach and tranquility of Bal Harbour. Once a midway between two destinations, Surfside in recent years has become an important beacon for contemporary architecture.
Surfside’s original claim to fame, the Surf Club, opened in the 1930s on six acres of beachfront, serving as a reprieve to Hollywood’s fashion and political elite. Conceived by tire tycoon Harvey Firestone, in its heyday the legendary hotel hosted black-tie boxing matches, runway shows and debutante balls all within its Mediterranean-revival-style halls designed by Russell Pancoast. One of Miami’s most influential architects, Pancoast’s contributions include the Miami Beach Library and Art Center (which now hosts the Bass Museum) creating the visual language for which the city and Surfside is now known.
Pancoast’s Spanish villa style served as the blueprint for Surfside’s revival starting with the Surf Club’s renovation by Richard Meier for the Four Seasons hotel. The minimalist architect maintained the facades of Pancoast’s hotel but reinforced it with a new kind of modern luxury. A simple, glassy face harmonizes with its Surfside neighbors, the Fendi Chateau, created by Miami-based firm Arquitectonica and 87 Park, a new residential tower by international powerhouse Renzo Piano. These three starchitect fixtures have transformed Surfside’s skyline and made it a hub for a new creative community to thrive alongside the neighborhood’s already established strip of boutiques and restaurants.
A walk along the shore reveals the Turtle Walk, a sculptural installation that calls attention to indigenous wildlife using the work of local and international artists who decorated a series of oversized Florida Loggerhead Sea Turtles. Set against the new undulating glass towers, these sculptures celebrate the shifting scales of the city, a place where history and new growth can live in harmony.