A 1959 postcard from the Monterey Motel on Belle Isle.
As The Standard (formerly Lido Spa) unveils plans for its third major renovation, it’s a good opportunity to review the architectural lineage of a property that includes work by luminaries in South Florida design history.
Most folks who consider themselves Miami Beach old timers associate The Standard with the Lido Spa — for years a destination for a certain generation, more blue hair than purple streaks, less hip than hip replacement.
Ah, uncongested Belle Isle.
But the Lido was the second incarnation of hotel/motel at 40 Island Ave.
It started in 1953, and was known as the Monterrey Motel. Architect Norman Giller originally designed the Monterrey with a glass gable facade. It had two wings of rooms, two floors on the west and one floor on the east.
Giller’s hotel designs are considered groundbreaking works of Miami Modern architecture. His other work includes the Ocean Palm and Thunderbird Motels in Sunny Isles Beach, and the Carillon Hotel and the North Shore Bandshell in North Beach.
The original Monterrey became the Lido Spa in 1960. The new owner added the three-story lobby and spa building with the classic sign and gold grille panels. Here’s where the architectural history becomes more murky.
Many publications have attributed that work to architectural legend Morris Lapidus.
Among them: Travel and Leisure magazine in a much repeated piece from 2005, and the city of Miami Beach in it’s own MiMoTutorial
But the authoritative book MIMO: Miami Modern Revealed, by Eric Nash and Randall Robinson, credits A. Herbert Mathes for the entry building design. So does Miami Architecture, an American Institute of Architects guide to South Florida’s design treasures.
The Lapidus anthology Morris Lapidus: The Architecture of Joy, which lists all of Lapidus buildings, does not mention the Lido at all.
Tom Mooney, the city of Miami Beach preservation officer and planner, says the city of Miami Beach building card for 40 Island Ave. does not name Lapidus, though it does name Norman Giller for the original design. It’s worth a look, to see that the original Monterrey building cost was estimated at $200,000. You can see renovation details from air conditioning upgrades to pool construction.
3 Island Ave.
5 Island Ave.
(It’s worth mentioning that Lapidus did make his mark on Belle Isle. Two other Belle Isle buildings are Lapidus designs: Terrace Tower (1962) at 3 Island Ave. and Island Terrace (1967), 5 Island Ave.)
The 2005 renovation of The Standard was done by Alison Spear, one of the founders of the groundbreaking Miami architectural firm Arquitectonica.
In 1962, Belle Isle with Monterrey/Lido in the foreground, slightly left.