Celebrating International Woman's Day – honoring Marion Manley, Miami's first Female Architect.
The second female architect in Florida, and the first in Miami, was Marion Manley (1893-1984) who registered as an architect in 1918.
Likely influenced by her studies at University of Illinois under Rexford Newcomb, Dean of Fine and Applied Arts, the style of her early residential commissions was heavily Mediterranean. WW I forced a pause; upon returning to Miami shortly after WW I, Manley began to design large-scale Mediterranean houses with prominent Miami architect Gordon E. Mayer. After a brief stint in South Carolina, she set up her own practice back in Florida in 1924.
However, in the post-war atmosphere of male dominance in the field of architecture, major success came later, in the 1940s, when she was hired by UM president Robert Bow Ashe to design a new masterplan for the University of Miami campus.
Her practice was relocated onto the UM campus, and she invited her colleague Robert Law Weed to collaborate in the campus project. Weed, exaggerating his role, later incorrectly claimed most if not all of the credit for himself, while in reality Manley was the leading force behind the design of the Campus.
Exposure to the writings of Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier at that time, as well as her enrollment in a summer city planning course at MIT in 1942, had the most impact on her ideals as an architect and regional planner, as evidenced in her design language, both residential and for the UM campus, which is counted among Manley’s greatest achievements.
Her residential work sadly is not very well documented, and photos, especially of her modernist designs from the 1940s onwards, are practically impossible to find. The few shots of Manley's residences I could find for this post all come from the local Realtor-database MLS.
The change in Manley's design language, illustrated through some of her commissions:
#1: residence in Miami, built 1921
#2: residence in Miami Beach, built 1924
#3: residence in Miami Shores, built 1938
#4: Coral Gables, built 1946
#5: School of Architecture building, University of Miami, built 1947, refitted 1985
#6: Memorial Classroom Building, U.M., built 1948
#7: residence in Miami, built 1955, torn down ca. 2008 (sorry for the pathetic size)
#8: Albert Pick Music Library, U.M., built 1957
#9: residence in Palmetto Bay, built 1967
Recommended reading: Catherine Lynn and Carie Penabad: "Marion Manley: Miami’s First Woman Architect"
Video on Marion Manley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BSjBLa1ElY
Photos: BeachesMLS, #5, #6 University of Miami, #8 Ruth Hara
Tobias Kaiser works as an independent real estate broker and consultant in Florida since 1990. Always putting his clients' interest first, he specialises in modern Florida homes and architecture, as well as net leased investments.