History/Architecture

The University of Miami began as a dream of George Merrick, the great visionary who founded the City of Coral Gables, and a small group of community leaders.  Merrick donated 160 acres of land and a $5 million matching grant along with plans for an elaborate, Mediterranean Revival-style university campus.  Construction began in February 1926 on the first campus building, the Soloman G. Merrick building, but within a few months, construction was halted by a faltering economy and the devastating September 1926 hurricane. The unfinished Merrick Building was abandoned for twenty years as the struggling University leased or purchased hotels and apartments two miles north of the campus, hastily converting them into classrooms and housing, giving the school the nickname “Cardboard College.”

It was in the wake of World War II that the University would undergo a renaissance, when the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (“GI Bill”) brought a flood of new students, and federal funding programs became available for building expansion. This was a nationwide phenomenon, but the University of Miami seized the opportunity to create “the first completely modern United States campus-also, one of the handsomest.” The old plans were scrapped and the campus completely redesigned, largely by architects Robert Law Weed, Robert M. Little, and Marion I. Manley, in a modern style, receiving nationwide publicity and setting the standard for new academic architecture. (more)