While driving around Coral Gables I stopped by the Colonnade Building along the 'miracle mile', a half a mile stretch of road that is the shopping strip of the planned community.Coral Gables was a planned community developed by George Merrick in the 1920s, spawned out of the City Beautiful movement. The public buildings in Merrick's scheme were all done in a magnificent Beaux Arts style which incorporated a lot of Floridian motifs.Merrick hired architect Phineas Paist, who was involved with the local estate Vizcaya, to complete his own fantasy town. Below is a photograph of a lost painting of Paist, allegedly painted by Sargent, who was a friend of his.The Colonnade, completed in November of 1926, was originally designed as Merrick's sales center, and as such, was the centerpiece of the shopping area. It certainly stands out!Since the area experienced a real estate bust shortly after it was built, the building has undergone a series of purposes: a movie studio, pilot training facility, bank and even a parachute factory!The building is now a part of the Colonnade hotel, operated by Westin. You can see the hulk of the hotel behind the original building. The main foyer operates as a ballroom and contains the original Spanish fountain and plaster detailing that you'll see in a bit.The exterior doors house a number of restaurants with the shaded loggias providing outdoor seating.As with most good architecture, you know where you are, despite a classical design. The pink stucco and turquoise window frames with beachside motifs couldn't be anywhere but Florida!The interior foyer, as I said, now operates as a ballroom for the hotel; imagine having your wedding here! It reminded me vaguely of Rome's Pantheon, don't you think?The Oculus is even painted with clouds to resemble the open one at the Pantheon. Here it is more practically enclosed.Now, notice those pretty corinthian columns -what is that in the center?The capitals have birds; Pelicans and Parrots!I instantly fell in love with this room -those birds!The niches at the ground level (empty for some reason?) continue the seaside motif with shells. Ignore those hideous 1980's marble floors. I'm not sure what the original floors were, tile or perhaps a more appropriate terrazzo (marble chips in cement)? At the rear of this atrium begins the hotel with this 2 story entry hallway. I think it melds in pretty well with the original building. This area was originally an alley between buildings I think, based on original photos I found online.
After a maddening day driving around Coral Gables looking for Merrick's buildings (harder than I thought!) and an unexpected and stressful phonecall, I needed a drink. I grabbed a delightful lunch at Le Boudoir in the Colonnade - one of the best Salad Nicoise I've had in a long time, I would highly recommend this cafe!