Palm Beach County in Florida is a paradise of gilded age mansions and rich architecture which reflects architect John Volk’s vision. John.L.Volk, a native from Austria came to West Palm Beach in the 1920s after receiving architectural degrees from l’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, soon became the most popular architect in the region. His early work was mostly in the Mediterranean Revival style, while later his projects were highly influenced by the British Colonial, Georgian, and Regency styles. He was best known for his versatility, great sense of proportion, and space planning. With designing over 1,000 buildings in West Palm Beam it is often said that there is not even a single street in the county without Volk’s piece of creation.

Here are the 10 most exemplary examples of John Volk’s works:

1. Good Samaritan Hospital

This iconic medical facility was originally built in 1920 by Marion Sims Wyeth during the Second World War, later in 1947, John Volk expanded the facility into a 350-bed hospital with operating rooms, intensive care units, and emergency services over three decades without disrupting the hospital’s operations.

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Good Samaritan Hospital in 1920 © www.slideshare.com
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Good Samaritan Hospital © www.Uedata.amazon.com
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Good Samaritan Hospital in 1959 © www.hippostcard.com
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Good Samaritan Hospital now © www.palmbeachcivic.org

2. Town Hall

The Town Hall, a historic site in Palm Beach was originally designed by Harvey and Clarke in 1925 as two separate buildings connected by a central courtyard. In 1947, John Volk remodeled the town hall from an asymmetrical structure into classical symmetry influenced by Romanesque and Renaissance architectural style. The key elements of the Mediterranean Revival style that can be seen in the town hall are the coupled window, Corinthian column, arcades, and patera on the balconies give this civil building a bold and formal appearance.

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Town Hall © www.commons.wikimedia.org
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Town Hall ©www.gettyimages.com

3. First Nation Bank 

This national bank in Palm Beach is Florida’s first bank to have air conditioning. It was designed by three most prominent architects of the town – Marion Sims Wyeth in 1925, Maurice Fatio in 1927, and John Volk from 1937 to 1971. Volk created a transition from the existing mannerist style structure of Fatio by the newly added neoclassical building adjacent to it. He achieved the harmony in the final facade of the structure by using elements of Mediterranean Revival style.  

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First Nation Bank © www.picclick.com
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First Nation Bank © www.shutterstock.com
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First Nation Bank ©www.bigstockphoto.com

4. Royal Poinciana Plaza

Located in the heart of the town, this shopping plaza is an exquisite example of regency architecture. The wide arches and porticos designed around two central courtyards compliment the large open space making it a timeless and luxurious retreat.

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Royal Poinciana Plaza © www.RoyalPoincianaPlaza.com
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Royal Poinciana Plaza © www.RoyalPoincianaPlaza.com
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Royal Poinciana Plaza © www.RoyalPoincianaPlaza.com
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Royal Poinciana Plaza © www.RoyalPoincianaPlaza.com

5. Royal Poinciana Playhouse

Volk believed that a plaza is not only a commercial location but also a community space including a theatre club and office spaces. Therefore he added a regency style playhouse overlooking the lake at the rear end of the plaza. The facade of the playhouse has four Italian style statues overlooking the visitors creating a welcoming impact. The interiors of the theatre are carefully designed keeping acoustic needs in mind. The playhouse also consisted of a celebrity room to host parties and dance. One of the most eye-catching features of this room is the 45ft X30ft celebrity mural on the ceiling of the room. 

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Front facade ©www.palmbeachdailynews.com
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Overlooking Italian Statues ©www.palmbeachperformingartscenter.org
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The theatre © www.palmbeachdailynews.com
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Rear facade ©www.palmbeachperformingartscenter.org

For more picture of the interior of royal playhouse visit:http://shinyshots.palmbeachdailynews.com

6. Everglades Club

This club is an extraordinary example of Volk’s ability to reform and expand a structure without losing its original character. John Volk’s addition to the existing Addison Mizner design was a stage with an electric sliding roof weighing 35 tons. It covered the stage and the dressing room without belittling the club’s outdoor character. He also remodeled the Cartier jewelry shop adjacent to the Everglades Club to amalgamate with the Mediterranean revival style of the avenue by employing arcades and red barrel tile roof to unify the spaces.

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Everglades Club © www.en.wikipedia.org
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Orange Garden ©www.youtube.com
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Renovation of Cartier Jewelry Store at Worth Avenue  ©www.youtube.com

 

7. 206, Phipps Plaza

The architect’s house is a typical Mediterranean style mansion with a beamed ceiling, arches, and Cuban tile flooring. Attached to this breathtaking house is Volk’s studio. The mansion consists of a private garden, 7 bedrooms, and 2 kitchens, overlooking a free form pool with a rock waterfall.

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206 ©www.palmbeachdailynews.com
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Entrance to the house ©www.realtor.com
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The living room ©www.realtor.com
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Interior of the house ©www.corcoran com
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Reception of the studio ©www.corcoran.com

8. Villa Primavera, Palm Beach

Villa Primavera is an architectural masterpiece designed in 1937 by John Volk. The Neoclassical Adam style Mansion, which was unfamiliar for the town features park-like gardens and a magnificent pool. The grandeur of the house is revealed standing in these gardens –a villa of the perfect scale and proportion, monumentally rising from its verdant lawns.

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Villa Primavera © www.housebeautiful.com
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Villa Primavera © www.housebeautiful.com
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Villa Primavera © www.housebeautiful.com

9. Samuel E. Paley Pavilion

This pavilion marks John Volk’s shift from traditional architectural style to a mid-century modern architecture using local materials. The architect derived inspiration for the metal screen of the pavilion from the royal palm tree. It comprises a triangular projection enclosing three panes of glass forming the roof. The screen provides privacy at the same time allows light to enter the interiors. The design of the pavilion is an illustration of Volk’s adaptability and knowledge of different architectural styles.

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Samuel E. Paley Pavilion © www.rcca.org
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Metal screen © Instagram.

10. North Lake Way Pumping Station 

Disguised as a residential building this utilitarian structure is one of the earliest examples of modern architecture on Palm Beach. Design emphasis lies on the horizontality of the building enhanced by horizontal banding, glass brick windows, and a series of low steps leading to the entrance. The vertical panels on the door provide a contrast breaking the monotony of the facade.  

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North lake way pumping station © Art Deco of the Palm Beaches
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North lake way pumping station © www.youtube.com

The legendary architect John Volk was a visionary with an extraordinary talent to renovate, create, and maintain the magnificence of the buildings. He is largely responsible for giving Palm Beach a unique architectural character and undoubtedly was one of the pioneers of residential architecture.  

Rudraakshi Tiwari
Author

Rudraakshi, architecture is an expression of values, tradition, culture and emotions. She believes in achieving aesthetics through a sustainable and vernacular approach. Through the power of her words, she aims to give a new perspective to architecture.

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