Designing the Good Life: Norman M. Giller and the Development of Miami Modernism

Norman M. Giller, Author, Sarah Giller Nelson, Author, Sarah Giller Nelson, Author University Press of Florida $39.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-8130-3071-5
One of Miami Modernism's most influential architects, Giller may not enjoy the same recognition as his contemporary Morris Lapidus, but among the 10,000 buildings he worked on over his career, the extremely prolific designer contributed such hallmark ""MiMo"" buildings as the Carillon and Diplomat Hotels. In this handsomely appointed volume, filled with photos, conceptual illustrations, floor plans and period advertisements, Giller writes about the popular, progressive mid-century Miami style with some technical heft, discussing key components like cantilevers, flat roofs, planters and concrete: ""Cost-efficient yet expressive, concrete enabled my colleagues and me to freely incorporate circles, zigzags, arcs and ellipses into the structure of our buildings."" Giller's text is characterized by that kind of simple, informative recollection; avoiding bombast or over-theorizing, Giller's voice is light, helpful and engaging. What's most interesting is his clear sense of perspective on the cycle of architectural tastes, as in his discussion of the ""exciting, sophisticated"" Copa City Nightclub he designed: ""Eventually... the club succumbed to the fickleness of fashion... and the newer, larger venues inside the swank hotels along Collins Avenue (a number of which, ironically, I had also designed)."" Setting aside his ego for an even-handed look at the distinctive genre, Giller's book has authenticity and intelligence to spare. Color and b/w photos.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
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