Morris Lapidus & the Americana Hotel: A Legacy


Morris Lapidus

Morris Lapidus was an American architect and designer whose iconic structures helped shape the American cultural landscape of the mid-20th century. Born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1902, Lapidus immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of 10. He studied architecture at Columbia University and later worked for various firms before starting his own practice in 1937.

Lapidus’s design philosophy was rooted in the idea that architecture should be accessible and welcoming to all. He believed that good design should be both functional and visually striking, and that it should evoke emotion and create a sense of place. His unique style was characterized by the use of bold curves, sweeping lines, and playful touches that set his work apart from other architects of his time.


The Americana Hotel

One of Lapidus’s most famous works is the Americana Hotel in Bal Harbour, Florida. Built in 1956, the hotel was a reflection of Lapidus’s design philosophy and his vision for the future of hospitality. The hotel’s signature feature was a massive porte-cochère, or covered entrance, that was supported by towering columns and framed by a curving, cantilevered canopy. The porte-cochère was designed to create a sense of grandeur and drama, while also providing shelter from the Florida sun and rain.

Inside the hotel, Lapidus continued his bold design choices with a variety of unique features, including a circular lobby with a sunken seating area, a grand staircase with a cascading waterfall, and a rooftop pool with sweeping views of the ocean. The hotel’s rooms were also designed with Lapidus’s playful style in mind, featuring bright colors, bold patterns, and quirky details like star-shaped light fixtures and curving walls.
The Americana Hotel quickly became a cultural icon, drawing celebrities and socialites from around the world to its luxurious rooms and stunning public spaces. Its success also had a ripple effect on the hospitality industry, inspiring other architects and designers to incorporate bold, playful elements into their own work.


This Morris Lapidus tiered grandeur chandelier was once displayed in the 1950’s Americana Hotel in Bal Harbour, Florida before the building was demolished in 2007. The chandelier was picked up before the demolition and was part of The Bass Museum Exhibition: Promises of Paradise: Staging Mid-Century Miami, December 5, 2007 through April 13, 2008. Morris Lapidus was a Miami Beach architect who designed the infamous Americana Hotel Bal Harbour as well as the Fountainebleu Hotel and the Eden Roc Hotel. 

This chandelier will be auction off on June 27th, 2023 with Lion and Unicorn – View Lot

Morris’ Impact

Today, Lapidus’s legacy lives on in the work of designers like Kelly Wearstler and Jonathan Adler, who have cited him as a major influence on their own design philosophies. His work continues to inspire and delight people around the world with its boldness, playfulness, and sense of joy.

As architecture historian Alan Hess notes, “Morris Lapidus was a master of creating spaces that were both functional and beautiful. His designs were never boring or predictable, and they always had a sense of fun and whimsy that made them stand out. The Americana Hotel is a testament to his vision and his lasting impact on American culture.”

The Power of Good Design

Morris Lapidus was a visionary architect and designer whose work had a profound impact on American culture. His unique style and bold design choices continue to inspire and delight people around the world, and his legacy lives on in the work of designers and architects who continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of design. The Americana Hotel is just one example of Lapidus’s enduring influence, and it serves as a reminder of the power of good design to create a sense of place and evoke emotion.