Morris Lapidus



Some scenes of Goldfinger, one of the most famous James Bond pictures, were filmed in Miami Beach’s Hotel Fontainebleau, described by its architect, Morris Lapidus, as the world’s most pretentious hotel. After all, its rooms of red velvet and its lobby’s alligator-inhabited pool, for example, were conceived to make guests feel like movie stars. Born in 1902 in the Russian city of Odessa and raised in the New York borough of Brooklyn, Lapidus took inspiration from childhood Sunday visits to Coney Island, transferring its uninhibited, coloristic atmosphere to the numerous hotels and commercial centers he designed in Florida. Against the Miesian “less is more” maxim of postwar architecture, Lapidus coined “too much is never enough,” and his repertoire included staircases with dizzying curves or classical statues in a golf swing. The irreverent freshness of his work, marginalized by critics for decades, was given recognition with the book The Architect of the American Dream (1990), and in 2000 he received one of the awards that the Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum grants for originality.

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