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Did This Architectural Photographer Capture Miami's First Hip Parking Garage?

CC by 2.0, by atl10trader via Flickr

Last week, the New York Times' Michael Kimmelman reviewed a gallery exhibition of works by Ezra Stoller, an influential architectural photographer who died in 2004 at age 89. His images of landmark mid-century modernist buildings often became as iconic as the buildings themselves, Kimmelman writes:

Picture Eero Saarinen’s TWA Terminal, or Philip Johnson’s Glass House, or the Manufacturers Trust building by Gordon Bunshaft, with its bank vault by Henry Dreyfus. Chances are you’ve got one of Stoller’s images in mind.

In fact, in these pre-Internet, pre-discounted-airline days, it was Stoller's photos, through publication or exhibition, that helped spread the gospel of architecture's then-new, clean lines. And this new, posthumous Stoller solo show, Beyond Architecture at the Yossi Milo Gallery in Manhattan, serves as a retrospective of it all.

But New York wasn't the only placed the photographer worked As Kimmelman points out in the Times, he also captured modernist images in Miami. Click this link, for instance, to check out this 1949 photo he took of the parking garage at a building then for the architecture firm Robert Law Weed and Associates.

Stoller's bright photo, taken at the height of sunlight and during a still moment, perfectly portrayed the garage's horizontal lines and airy sides and top. In a way, Stoller helped cement this place as the original sexy Miami parking garage, some six decades before the Herzog and de Meuron 1111 Building on South Beach.

That's the only Miami photo in that current Stoller gallery show. But if you're an architecture geek, it's worth reading the rest of Kimmelman's review in the Times, and poking around the works on the Yossi Milo Gallery web site.

However, Stoller returned to Miami throughout the years, and you can find his shots in our city around the web. In fact, he helped legitimize the Miami Modern, or MiMO, movement.

For instance, here's a 1956 Stoller snap of the glossy lobby of Morris Lapidus' Eden Roc Hotel, from the collection of SFMOMA in San Francisco. The photo documents the original glory of the place, complete with its functionally useless staircase and fancy, vintage-fab furnishings tossed out in subsequent renovations.

Elsewhere, here are several Stoller photos of private residences by MiMO figure Alfred Browning Parker. And here's one of the old Bal Harbour Yacht Club, also by Parker, now demolished. There are even more here, on the web site of architecture photography service Esto. In a city with little sense of history in its urban fabric, Stoller's photos help preserve some of the past.

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