By Rosemary Ference
The construction of Biscayne Boulevard from Downtown Miami northward did not begin until 1925. The men responsible for its construction, Hugh Anderson and Roy C. Wright, partners in the Shoreland Company, had made huge investments in the Miami area. Unfortunately, the Shoreland Company was unable to complete the work, and in 1926 was bought out by Henry Phipps of the U.S. Steel Corporation.
Following the recovery from the economic collapse of the boom and a national depression, building along Biscayne Boulevard during the thirties and forties was focused on commercial and retail businesses, a trend which continued into the 1950s when the Boulevard became known as the “Motel Capital of Miami.”
Motorists making the long drive down to Florida often needed to replace worn tires. An exceptional building of the modern era is the former General Tire Building located at 5600 Biscayne Boulevard. Designed by Architect Robert Law Weed of Weed Russell Johnson Associates and built in 1956, the single-story construction also served as a gas station for Standard Oil gas. Its flat, double-height concrete roof extends outwards to form a broad canopy which wraps around the building, supported by slender steel columns. At its southern corner, the canopy is cradled by a geometric steel grid which originally towered above the roof, displaying the large General Tire sign. (The sign was subsequently removed and the grid has been partially cut down.) A glassed-in showroom with floor to ceiling windows occupies about half of the enclosed area, adding to the structure’s streamlined, modern look.
Architect Weed, a native of Pennsylvania, obtained a degree in architecture and engineering from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He moved to Miami in 1919 and was a resident until his death in 1961. Recognized as one of the principal architects to influence the look of modern Miami, his modernist prototype Florida Tropical House was a popular exhibit at the Homes of Tomorrow Exhibition at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. In the 1940’s, his firm was hired by the University of Miami to design a master plan for the Main Campus which resulted in a number of notable buildings exemplifying avant-garde trends in architecture, including some of Miami’s first international style buildings. Other iconic works include the Coconut Grove Bank, the original Burdines on Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road (now Art Center/South Florida), and the Shriner Building/Boulevard Shops on Biscayne Boulevard.
Today, the former General Tire Building has been converted to a restaurant and since 2001 has served as the home of Andiamo Pizza. Along with its award-winning pizzas, wonderful salads and Panini sandwiches, Andiamo also features a hand-picked wine list as well as a great selection of domestic and imported beers.