Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places.

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Vagabond Motel

Vagabond Motel

Miami

Built in 1953 by Robert Swartburg.

Vagabond Motel beautifully embodies the characteristic elements of motel culture on this onetime resort strip. The U-shaped structure opens toward the boulevard, exposing its parking court and an alluring pool deck elevated on undulating brick retaining walls. At the rear of the court, a perforated masonry wall draws the eye in and creates a theatric backdrop for the activities at the pool. Eye-catching imagery and graphics were, of course, part of the formula. A fieldstone grotto featuring frolicking bare-chested nymphs who are gazed upon by friendly dolphins greets the motorist. On the opposite southwest end is the head house, originally containing the lobby, office, restaurant, and bar. Its space age porte cochere is held on metallic pylons, while the main building signage is hoisted aloft on a pylon of synthetic slump brick. The pylon’s angular form was exaggerated by a metallic scaffold that supports stars that sparkle at night.

Return to: Florida Top 100 Building Survey