Miami Virtue: Working With Florence Knoll Bassett in the ‘80s

Completed decades after her first collaboration with SOM, a Florida tower offer clues to a more experimental side of the famed designer.

For Southeast Financial Center, the interiors team worked so closely with Florence Knoll Bassett that the team referred to her as “The Design Committee.” Photo © Peter Aaron | ESTO
The 55-floor tower connects to a smaller structure with indoor parking and a banking floor via a courtyard filled with palm trees. Photo © Peter Aaron | ESTO

“One did not begin a meeting with Shu with t’s uncrossed or i’s undotted.”

Claire Kahn developed special focal treatments throughout, including cool-colored mosaic panels for the public cafeteria. Photo © Peter Aaron | ESTO
Florence Knoll helped pick out Micho Ihara’s gold sculpture for the main banking hall. She wanted “something of grand scale but not too visually aggressive,” and liked how the piece “moves lightly in currents of air like leaves in a tree.” Photo ©SOM
Shu’s drawings in these files indicate how art works were placed throughout Southeast Financial Center. Images © Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932–2000, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
A stair in granite with glass and steel railings connects two executive floors and relate to the building’s architecture. Photo ©SOM
Some of Florence Knoll Bassett’s files on the Southeast Financial Center show an enthusiasm for the placement of various pre-modern pieces. Images © Florence Knoll Bassett papers, 1932–2000, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

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