BUILDING A DAY: October 23, 2014
Miami Beach (Hibiscus Island), Florida
Architect: Rufus Nims
Photos: University of Florida Digital Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries
?I’ve refused to do houses for people who didn’t care whether they were living here in Florida or New Jersey.?
Dwell Magazine, March 2005
Architect Rufus Nims attended North Carolina State-the second school in the United States, after Harvard dedicated to modernist design principles and the Bauhaus. He graduated in 1934 with a degree in architectural engineering and opened his own firm in Miami in 1945.
He was one of the most ?devoted leaders in modernism? and helped define the modern tropical house using natural climatic conditions and proper orientation before the widespread use of central air-conditioning. He experimented with building materials and methods and pioneered the use of catenary steel armatures with thin shell sprayed concrete membranes for residential and commercial use.
Nims was best known for his modern interpretation and design of the Howard Johnson roof form that became the iconic symbol for the hotel chain.
The Adler house was an expression of form, experimentation and the open plan. It was constructed of two horizontal concrete slabs supported on a set of eight round concrete columns. The outer bearing walls allowed for few interior walls and functional freedom. The main living areas were located on the second level and the lower level was for utilitarian purposes including carport, utilities and a pool cabana.
The elevated second story of the home captured the bay breezes and surrounding water views and the extended overhang provided sun protection and afternoon shade to cool the home. The large fixed glass panels that were full height and floor to ceiling provided expansive views and they alternated with operable wood louvers to allow for cross ventilation.
The visitor to the home was guided under the house and up four shallow steps to emerge at the swimming pool and Bay side. A flight of stairs led you up to the main living area, which contained an open living & dining area and the master Bedroom and bath.