Miami Beach may be best known for its Art Deco architecture but strung along the sand are multiple brightly coloured structures which play an equally compelling role in the city’s visual identity.
Despite their firmly rooted place in popular culture, the lifeguard towers of Miami are a relatively recent addition. When Hurricane Andrew swept through South Florida in 1992, the scale of the destruction was immense and the previous incarnations of the lifeguard huts were all but destroyed. The City of Miami made a forward-thinking decision to have them redesigned as future icons, with architect William Lane stepping in to design and construct the first new stands, followed by others commissioned by local business owners or as the result of design competitions.
Miami Beach is now home to 31 of these kaleidoscopic towers which lure visiting photographers to the shoreline in droves. Drawing inspiration from a mix of free flowing forms, cartoonish colours and the city’s own brand of Tropical Deco, they continue to make an impression on tourists from around the world. We take a look at some of the quirkiest, most personality-filled huts on the block.
Known as “the Bed”, this circular lifeguard tower was commissioned by Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records and owner of The Tides and The Marlin hotels on South Beach.
Above is the lighthouse-inspired lifeguard tower at the jetty at South Pointe Park, Miami Beach’s southernmost point.
The 15th street lifeguard tower was designed by a student from Florida International University.
The 5th street lifeguard tower marks the southern edge of Lummus Park and the busiest stretch of Ocean Drive.
The 74th street hut is far away from the crowds of South Beach, just a couple of blocks north of North Shore Park.
The 8th street tower was designed by Hank Oppenborn of Miami Beach’s Ocean Rescue Division, and is regarded as an optimal design by lifeguards.
In a prime position on South Beach, the patriotic 13th street tower is one of Miami’s most recognisable icons.
Have you spotted any of these lifeguard towers on your travels in Miami? Or do you have a different favourite not included here? Let us know in the comments below.