The Betsy Orb, Miami’s Giant Egg

Betsy Orb, wedged between the Betsy Hotel and the former Carlton Hotel in Miami Beach

photography by: Phillip Pessar/ Flickr

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Known for its Art-Deco architecture, golden-sand beaches and bustling nightlife, Miami Beach is everything you'd expect a resort town to be – tourist-oriented in every sense of the word. On first glance, the city’s Betsy Hotel might seem like yet another glitzy place for the well-heeled, with not much interest for the everyday person. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth as this hotel features a rather bizarre design – an oversized and gravity-defying egg, sandwiched between a pair of its buildings, leaving any nearby onlookers utterly puzzled.

Originally designed by architect L. Murray Dixon, the Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach was inaugurated in 1942, with its first guests being US soldiers fighting in WW2. The beachfront edifice along Ocean Drive is part of the world’s largest cluster of Art-Deco buildings, something which makes Miami Beach also a pilgrimage site for aficionados of architecture.


In the mid 2010’s, this stately hotel faced a somewhat difficult dilemma – how to expand its activities and space without jeopardizing its architectural merit. As stacking floors atop the existing building was ruled out, a deus ex machina was devised – erecting a pedestrian bridge between the Betsy and the adjacent Carlton Hotel to the west.


Yet, instead of a nondescript aerial walkway, architect Allan Shulman opted to encase his otherwise mundane bridge with fiberglass panels, specifically those used in constructing radomes. The end result named “Betsy Orb” was an egglike sphere that spans a few meters above the alleyway between the two hotels, a surreal sight that instantly made the place teeming with curious gawkers.


Ironically, the structure’s ovoid shape is visible solely to outside observers while from the inside, it appears just like any other corridor hotels typically have, leaving both guests and passersby unaware of its true nature.


South Beach Egg