Most longtime Miamians remember the Amertec building, a freeform concrete fantasy in bright colors located in the city of Hialeah. Its architect, Chayo Frank, was retained by his father in 1968 to design a space for his father’s architectural woodworking and to house his fixture manufacturing business. Some of the architectural elements, such as the water flumes, are actually free form sprayed concrete; for the other parts, geometric progressions of curved rebar created each form. Sadly, the fantastic building (below) was torn down in 2017.
Frank’s own home, designed by him in 1974, is not a fantasy in sprayed concrete, but in a way it is just as extraordinary. Amazingly pristine and untouched, the house was inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright — Wright if he were to design a tropic paradise rather than a prairie-style home. Now this time capsule is for sale, in the tony Ponce Davis neighborhood, for $14.995 million, listed by Jennifer Goldstein at Douglas Elliman of Coconut Grove.
Let’s start our tour outdoors. Rare specimens of tropical plants, including seven species of heliconias, and a weeping ficus brought from Indonesia in 1940, are in various sunken and raised gardens for the jungle effect. Coral rock grottos are cut into the ground as sculptures; meandering pathways and a freeform pool with a tropical rainforest waterfall, surrounded by giant philodendrons, make for a serene retreat on the 0.77-acre plot. The pool includes a 50-foot lap lane.
The 5,128-square foot house is built of steel beams encased in California redwood. More redwood is paneled on the walls and ceilings, for a 70s California feel. The vast living room, punctuated by 10′ foot high curving natural coral rock walls, overlooks the gardens. The new owners will want to turn up the hi-fi since the ceiling stretches to 25’ and the main central living space is all open plan; many sliding glass doors make the jungly garden seem inside.
The interiors are an extraordinary time capsule: Oriental rugs, abstract art, 70s lighting, touches of orange, raised conversation areas, those weird little stone vignettes found only in Florida houses, an untouched kitchen, and a gorgeous blue bathroom.
The extraordinary spiral staircase leads to the second floor, with two bedrooms (one used as an office). The master suite boasts sloping 20’ high ceilings; the new owners can lay their boogie shoes on the carpeted platforms next to the bed. Large sliders open to the gardens, and another coral rock wall defines the master bedroom and bath. There’s also a studio, a quiet space that overlooks the open living area and gardens — or enjoy with a mai-tai and the latest Kool and the Gang record.