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405 Biltmore Way
Coral Gables,

Coral Gables Mediterranean Architecture

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.

Building plan image of the front of the Biltmore hotel.    


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.

Best Practices for Board of Architects 2016            Best Practices Single Family Residences Board of Architects 2018

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.

Building Plan for a builing.        Building Plan showing elevation

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.

City of Coral Gables Zoning Code: Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards: Purpose and applicability

City of Coral Gables Zoning Code: Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards: Table 1

City of Coral Gables Zoning Code: Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards: Table 2

City of Coral Gables Zoning Code: Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards: Table 3

City of Coral Gables Zoning Code: Coral Gables Mediterranean Style Design Standards: Mediterranean Architecture

Building plan for a very long symetrical 2 story building.    


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):

  • Architectural elements on building facades (no blank walls, parking garage treatments)
  • Architectural relief elements at street level (include windows, landscaping or ornamentation)
  • Architectural elements located on the top of buildings (excludes elements from building height)
  • Bicycle storage (provide bicycle storage facilities)
  • Building facades (incorporate vertical breaks, stepbacks or variations in bulk/mass of building)
  • Building lot coverage (no minimum or maximum building lot coverage is required)
  • Drive through facilities (prohibits vehicular access to/from Ponce de Leon Blvd)
  • Landscape open space area (minimum landscape open area requirements)
  • Street lighting (provide street lighting on all streets/rights-of-way)
  • Parking garages (restricts ground floor parking locations)
  • Porte-cocheres (prohibits porte-cochere access to/from Ponce de Leon Blvd)
  • Sidewalks/pedestrian access (requires pedestrian entrances be oriented towards adjoining streets)
  • Structural soil (utilize structural soil for all street level planting areas)
  • Windows on Mediterranean buildings (provide minimum window casing depth of four (4) inches)


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:

  1. Arcades and/or loggias
  2. Building rooflines
  3. Building stepbacks
  4. Building towers
  5. Driveways
  6. Lighting of landscaping
  7. Materials on exterior building facades
  8. Overhead doors
  9. Paver treatments
  10. Pedestrian amenities
  11. Pedestrian pass-throughs/paseos on properties contiguous to alleys and/or street, and
  12. Underground parking.

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:

  • Residential uses (MF2 District) shall satisfy a minimum of six (6) of the twelve (12) qualifications.
  • Nonresidential and Mixed-used (C, CL, MXD, and I Districts) shall satisfy a minimum of eight (8) qualifications.

Black and white illustration of an arched entrance

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:

  • H. George Fink Offices, 2506 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
  • The Colonnade Building, 169 Miracle Mile
  • Douglas Entrance, 800 Douglas Road
  • Coral Gables Elementary School, 105 Minorca Avenue
  • Granada Shops/Charade Restaurant, 2900 Ponce de Leon Boulevard (demolished)
  • San Sebastian Apartments, 333 University Drive
  • Coral Gables City Hall, 405 Biltmore Way
  • Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue

Black and white photograph of a long white building    Black and white photograph of a building with an arched entry way