You are here
Located in the heart of downtown Miami on a site that straddles the northern and western location of Flagler’s Royal Palm Hotel, the Miami Tower marked a new direction for the city’s high-rise buildings. Conceived in the early 1980s as a world trade center connected to the Miami Convention Center and built using the air rights of a municipal parking garage, the tower was the first in the world designed to connect to an elevated mass transit system. On the ground floor it offers passages across the block to the convention center to the south. The massing provides a visual termination to the banking and condominium towers on Brickell Avenue and to the skyline as it developed to the east. Only recently, as towers are built to the north and west, is the signature tower starting to be enveloped in the developing skyline.
The tower has been known by several names over the course of its existence—World Trade Center, Centrust Tower, Bank of America Tower, and since 2010, the Miami Tower. Currently the eighth tallest building in Florida, the 47-floor Miami Tower features 1.16 million square feet of floor space, 19 elevators, and numerous amenities. Designed by Harold Fredenburgh with I. M. Pei in the early 1980s, the tower steps back three times on the gently curved facade that faces southeast toward the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The remaining facades are divided into three facets rising straight up from the plinth.
From its inception, the Miami Tower has had a special role in defining the city of Miami. Initially owned by Dade Federal Savings and Loan, the tower began as a business center for the Americas and beyond and was an important illuminated landmark that quickly became a showcase of fortune and excess. When CenTrust Bank owner David Paul purchased the building, he added a helicopter pad to the roof, Old Masters paintings to the interior, and mahogany lockers in the gym. He also updated the exterior lighting to enable changes in the building’s colors to reflect national holidays and other special events, including a visit to Miami by Elizabeth Taylor. In 2012, the lighting was upgraded to an LED-based Phillips Color Kinetics system, producing what was believed at the time to be the largest and most flexible building lighting system in the world, larger even than the similar system used on the top of the Empire State Building in New York City.
Currently owned by the Sumitomo Corporation of America, the tower continues to be an iconic symbol for Miami.
Austin, Tom. “I. M. Pei’s Tower of Power.” Ocean Drive Magazine, December 22, 2011.
Walker, Elaine. “Miami Tower changes colors instantly with new LED lights.” Miami Herald, September 21, 2012.
If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.
SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.