Kiehnel & Elliott: A Brief Survey of the Firm’s Miami Projects

It is no surprise that when looking at Miami Boom-Era architecture the name Kiehnel & Elliott comes to mind. The firm, originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had designed several buildings before moving its offices to Miami in 1922. The firm’s buildings became exemplary of the Mediterranean Revival style during the 1920s such as the extravagant El Jardin (now the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart) in Coconut Grove.

University of Miami professor and practicing architect Allan T. Shulman comments on Miami’s rapid building developments in the early 20th-century.

Miami’s accelerating urbanization in the 1920s demanded radically new types of formal representation. In Downtown Miami, skyscrapers sprouted in an eclectic range of commercial styles and stone-clad civic buildings exhibited a spectrum of Classical and Neoclassical designs. Even more significant, a new building tradition evolved here just as the Great Florida Boom was taking hold mid-decade. The “Mediterranean Revival” reflected the national popularity of Spanish Colonial architecture in the wake of the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego (1915), while also tapping a newfound appreciation for Florida’s Spanish roots.

The style also combined Italian and Moorish architectural elements. Some characteristics include pastel painted stucco walls, red-tile roofs, use of wrought iron for railings and chandeliers, and elaborate detail work—as evidenced in many of the Spanish Baroque-style entrances including the Coral Gables Congregational Church.

However, in the 1930s the city’s architecture shifted to a modern style focused on functionality, industrial forms, and symmetry. The Art Deco and Streamline Moderne characteristics of smooth, curving shapes and round port holes dominated Miami Beach architecture. Kiehnel & Elliott’s designs would also follow this popular trend.  The Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive is a superb example of the firm’s transition from Mediterranean to Modern.

Little Havana

Miami Senior High School (1928) 2450 SW 1st Street

 Miami Senior High School Fascade

Miami Senior High Auditorium

Courtyard, Miami Senior High School, 1963

Courtyard, 1963. Photo Courtesy: HistoryMiami

Aerial view, Miami Senior High School, 1936

Aerial view, 1936. Photo Courtesy: Fred Darwick 


Lummus Park

Scottish Rite Temple (1922) 471 NW 3rd Street

Scottish Rite Temple

© Steven Brooke


Coral Gables

Coral Gables Grammar School (now Coral Gables Preparatory Academy) (1923) 105 Minorca Avenue

Coral Gables Elementary School

1926. Photo Courtesy: HistoryMiami 

 Coral Gables Elementary School

Coral Gables Elementary School Fascade


Coral Gables Congregational Church (1924) 3010 De Soto Boulevard

Coral Gables Congregational Church

Sanctuary, Coral Gables Congregational Church


Coconut Grove

El Jardin (now Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart) (1918) 3747 Main Highway

 El Jardin

El Jardin (2)

© International Fine Art Conservation Studio


Coconut Grove Playhouse (1926) 2500 Main Highway




Bryan Memorial Methodist Church (now Bet-Ovadia Chabad of the Grove) (1928) 3713 Main Highway

Bryan Memorial Methodist Church

Chabad Interior

Photo Courtesy: Chabad Miami


Downtown Miami

Seybold Building (1921; upper 8 stories: 1925) 36 NE 1st Street

 Seybold Building, 1926

August 16, 1926. Photo by William A. Fishbaugh. Photo Courtesy: Florida Memory

 Seybold Building Fascade

Seybold Building


Miami Beach

Barclay Plaza Hotel (now a residential apartment building) (1935) 1949 Washington Avenue

Barclay Plaza Hotel (Washington Ave)

© 2011 Google

Barclay Plaza Hotel

© 2011 Google


Nunnally Building (now ArtCenter South Florida) (1936) 924 Lincoln Road

 Nunnally's restaurant, 1937

1937. Photo Courtesy: HistoryMiami 

924 Building

© 2011 Google


Shorecrest Hotel (now part of the James Royal Palm Resort) (1940) 1545 Collins Avenue

Shorecrest Hotel

Royal Palm Resort


Carlyle Hotel 1250 Ocean Drive (1941)

Carlyle Hotel

For a history and survey of Miami architecture refer to Miami Architecture: An AIA Guide Featuring Downtown, the Beaches, and Coconut Grove (2010) By Allan T. Shulman, Randall C. Robinson Jr. and James F. Donnelly.

-Marvin Aguilar

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.