Coral Gables is a city founded to be memorable, and the past 90+ years have fulfilled George Merrick’s original intent. At first, the city was imagined as a collection of well-defined neighborhoods and districts, inspired by the architecture of Spain and the Mediterranean, in terms of aesthetics and form. Moreover, landscape was reinvented to expand Merrick’s concept. In time, the initial idea inspired architects and builders to create a community renowned for its beauty and quality of life. Coral Gables was the product of thoughtful research. Books published in the 1910’s and 20’s set a high standard for architecture, and Walter de Garmo, Phineas Paist, the architects at Shultz and Weaver and others used them to learn about harmony, proportion and detailing. Today, every new building aspires to contribute to this timeless tradition of excellence.
View the presentation from the June 15, 2021, Commission Workshop - Mediterranean Bonus and "As-of-Right" Commercial Development Projects.
Best Practices Manual
The Best Practices Manual collects early drawings and texts that illustrate the best practices of town planning, urban design and architecture used to build Coral Gables. The drawings document a proud history of design, but also exemplify a living tradition of architecture of place and context. The content of this booklet should be used as a source of ideas, in the manner that the architects of the early 20th century used picture books as references for design. That was the way Coral Gables was first built. Now, the work of the early designers of Coral Gables is readily available to guide the present and future of the City. The Best Practices Manual should serve as the starting point for a permanent standard of outstanding design and vision.
Zoning Code: Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards, per Section 5-200
The Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards are provided in the Zoning Code as an incentive to property owners to encourage and expand the creative use of the various architectural styles in association with promoting public realm improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists in exchange for development bonuses that provide amenities and features typically provided in Mediterranean style buildings.
The intent of the "Coral Gables Mediterranean Architecture" design bonuses is to continue the support of George Merrick’s vision consistent with the established historic building fabric of the City and enhance the image of the City by providing a visual linkage between contemporary development and the City's unique historic thematic appearance.
The bonuses provided promote an assortment of street level public realm and pedestrian/bicycle amenities in exchange for increases in building height, residential density, and floor area ratio granted via a discretionary review process. These bonuses provide for the ability to reduce setbacks and encroachment into the public rights-of-way with public open space improvements. This helps to promote and require architectural and design elements focused to a pedestrian scale and encourages landmark opportunities, including physically defined squares, plazas, urban passageways, parks, public open spaces, and places of public assembly and social activity for social, cultural and religious activities.
The Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards provide a strong emphasis on aesthetics and architectural design with regulations that encourage the planned mixing of uses to establish identity, diversity and focus to promote a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly environment. This is accomplished through the utilization of a variety of architectural attributes and street level amenities that create a sense of place, including the spatial relationship of buildings and the characteristics which ensure attractive and functional areas through the integration of street level plazas, courtyards, open space and public gathering areas including the creation and preservation of corridors, vistas and landmark features.
How to Obtain Mediterranean Bonuses
Bonuses provided via the Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards are granted in a two level bonus program. The 1st level of bonuses is intended for all types of architectural design while the 2nd level of bonuses requires development in adherence to Coral Gables Mediterranean Architectural Design.
Level 1 Bonus
Level 1 (and Level 2) bonuses must first satisfy the following required standards (see Zoning Code Section 5-201(B)Table 1):
Level 2 Bonus
In addition to the required standards of Table 1, in order to obtain the 2nd level of bonuses, applicants must satisfy a predetermined amount of qualifications outlined in Zoning Code Section 5-201(C), based upon the type of use proposed.
The twelve (12) types of qualifications are as follows:
Level 2 bonuses are awarded based upon the Board of Architects determination that the following amount of qualifications have been satisfied for the specific use proposed:
In addition to the Table 1 and 2 requirements, to qualify for the 2nd level of bonuses the Board of Architects must determine that the application satisfies the Coral Gables Mediterranean Architectural Design provisions of Zoning Code Section 5-202 which requires the inclusion of design elements and architectural styles from the following buildings: