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November 29, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

In Person: An Evening With Jose Gelabert-Navia


Books & Books
(305) 442-4408
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November 29, 2023
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


zArchive2-Books & Books Coral Gables
265 Aragon Ave
Coral Gables, FL 33134 United States
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Books & Books presents…



Coral Gables, Rome and Miami Beach

Wednesday, November 29th, 7:00 PM| Books & Books, Coral Gables


Books & Books is thrilled to present an in-person evening with architect and University of Miami Professor Jose Gelabert-Navia presenting the three newest installments in his Journeys series: Coral Gables, Rome, and Miami Beach.

This event is FREE and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase the night of the event! Please RSVP only if you intend to join us.

About the Books:

Coral Gables:

At the turn of the 20th Century, Florida remained one the last true untouched frontiers of the United States. It existed as a primeval paradise removed from civilization where idealistic individuals set out to establish utopian communities and real estate development with no other context than the sea and the tropical brush.

Coral Gables became the vision of George Merrick, who along with his uncle, Denman Fink and the landscape architect Frank Button, created a layout based on the principles of the City Beautiful Movement. Along with Phineas Paist they designed landmarks such as the Venetian Pool (1925), the De Soto Fountain (1925), the Douglas Entrance (1924), the City Hall (1928), and the Police and Fire Station (1939).

George Merrick published his first book, Song of the Wind on a Southern Shore in 1920. Shortly afterwards he launched Coral Gables. He would never realize his dream of devoting his life to written poetry, instead Coral Gables would become his legacy, his “poetry in stone.”


Livy wrote that two brothers, Romulus and Remus, set out to build the city that we now know as Rome. Romulus, who had murdered his brother, decided on the current site of the Palatine Hill. From here rose a city that was not only the administrative capital of the greatest empire of the ancient world, but also the very symbol of that empire. Augustus famously said: “I found the city built of brick and left it built of marble.”

During the Renaissance, the Medici, Borgia, and Farnese Popes sought legitimacy for their newfound role as heads of the Catholic Church by engaging the greatest architects of the Renaissance and the Baroque period: Michelangelo, Bernini, and Borromini. In the 20th Century Benito Mussolini realized, like the Roman emperors and the Renaissance Popes before him, that he could write his story into the fabric of the city. His vision for the Terza Roma included the opening of grand avenues and the re-claiming of ancient monuments.

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana spent the last years of his life in Rome. I would invariably follow his itineraries. As I sketched I often thought of Santayana’s words:

“Many things depended on the time of day and the weather for their full effect, as landscape necessarily does, and great weathered works of architecture become part of the landscape and move the mind to poetry, not to pedantic criticism.”

It is this spirit I have sought to capture in the drawings in this collection.

Miami Beach:

Miami Beach is an island where dreams have come and gone, all aspiring to take a blank canvas blessed by benevolent weather and to fashion it according to transient dreams of paradise.

The city was incorporated in 1915. Despite the hurricane of 1926 middle class snowbirds, mostly Jewish from New York and New Jersey, began to take rooms in a series of hotels along Ocean Drive and the southern end of the island. These structures were modest in conception and architectural aspiration borrowing motifs from the nascent Art Deco style.

World War II would bring relief from the Great Depression. In the post-war years the city saw a newfound scale in the International Style hotels along Collins Avenue. Morris Lapidus and others transformed the International Style into a baroque flurry to delight a new generation

In 1981 preservationists succeeded in safeguarding many of those original pioneer structures by having more than 800 buildings in South Beach declared an Art Deco Historic District. Unique in the United States, the Art Deco District recognized a community with a history, a scale and a character that continue to thrive today.

About the Author:

Jose A. Gelabert-Navia is a Professor and former Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Miami. A graduate of Cornell University, Jose has been part of the Faculty since 1981. His primary teaching focus has been in the areas of Architectural Design and History of Colonialism and Globalization in Architecture. He was the founder of the School’s Rome Program and as part of it, he teaches a course in Italian Culture every Spring. Prof. Gelabert-Navia has been the author of numerous articles and has also been a practicing architect, directing the Miami office of Perkins + Will. He has lectured in Europe and Latin America, most recently on the Sustainable Hospital in Brasilia and in Santiago, Chile this year.