Image: The Related Group’s Loft II (left) and the historic Congress Building (right)
Since the CBD is filled with antiquated structures, there are many that stand no hope of restoration and rehabilitation, but there are some examples of historic buildings with potential for adaptive reuse. I’ll defer to Chapter 23 of the City Code, which sets forth a set of 8 criteria for the designation of a historic structure/site worthy of preservation:
- Are associated in a significant way with the life of a person important in the past
- Are the site of a historic event with significant effect upon the community, city, state, or nation
- Exemplify the historic, cultural, political, economical, or social trends of the community
- Portray the environment in an era of history characterized by one or more distinctive architectural styles.
- Embody those distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style, or period, or method of construction
- Are an outstanding work of a prominent designer or builder
- Contain elements of design,detail, materials, or craftsmanship, of outstanding quality or which represent a significant innovation or adaptation to the Florida environment
- Have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history
At least one of the requisites must be met for designation consideration. Having said that, let’s take a look at some of the structures that have already been designated as historic by the HEPB, so that we can assess the current state and composition of preservation in the CBD:
Image: Chipped masonry in the Courthouse facade
Completed in 1928, the Dade County Courthouse is built in the Neo-Classical style. The structure is currently being rehabilitated. The masonry as you can see from the image above is chipped in several places. This remarkably designed granite-covered building is one of the City’s most recognizable historic structures.
Image: Ingraham Building (above)
Built in 1927 in the “Chicago School” style of architecture, the Ingraham Building is one of the most intricately designed and historically impacting buildings in the CBD. One feels a deep sense of history when looking at and entering the building. It was renovated in 1990 and is currently houses professional offices and wholesale jewelry and diamond businesses. It is a staple of vintage urbanism in the CBD.
As distinctive as the Huntington Building is with its knight-sculpture adorned crown, it remains easily overlooked. The building was completed in 1925 during the land boom and resulted in the developer going bankrupt during the ensuing bust. The Huntington Building is situated directly across the vacant lot for the proposed Loft 4 development and is an architectural gem.
Image: Congress Building surrounded by the Lofts I and II, and Everglades on the Bay
Completed in 1926 in the Neo-Classical architectural style, the Congress Building is actually composed of two separate buildings united as one. Surrounded on almost all sides by new construction, the Congress building strikes one as evidence of the boom meshing with old urbanism in the CBD. The least impressive of the designated historic structures, the Congress Building still encapsulates a unique architectural style.
Image: Dupont Building facade and interior
The A.I. Dupont Building was completed in 1937, and at the time, was symbolic of Miami’s rise out of the depression. Designed in the Moderne architectural style that was common during the era, the Dupont Building has an ornate and intricate interior that alludes to local history. Currently, the building is home to law firms, jewelry businesses, and an assortment of professional suites.
Image: Theater main entrance
The first air-conditioned building in Miami, the second atmospheric theater in the U.S, and a fine example of American movie palace architecture, the Olympia Theater Building (Gusman Center for the Performing Arts), stands out as one of Miami’s most special buildings. Here, the intricacy of the masonry is evident from all angles, and the interior is arresting. The Olympia is across the street from the Dupont and a block away from the Ingraham.
Image: The old Walgreens Building
When the Walgreens was originally built in 1936, City residents viewed it as a sign of recovery in the City. The 1.6 million dollar construction cost, at the time, was staggering. The building’s Streamline Modern style is still striking today. Owned by the Alono family, the 5-story building is home to La Epoca department store.
Image: Close up of the Security Building’s distinctive crown
Not Included Here
I left out a couple of historic buildings in the CBD (the Post Office building, First National Bank, and Security Building are covered in the Vintage Urbanism in the CBD post). The Freedom Tower stands apart from those designated as historic in the CBD interior since it is rather well protected and will be incorporated into the 600 Biscayne development. The City National Bank Building, although designated as historic, did not strike me as being particularly impressive.
Undesignated Historic Structures
There are also quite a few historic buildings (i.e.: Burdines-Macy’s Building, Seybold Building) that one would expect to be included on the designation list but are not, these will be the subject of the next installment as the question of adaptive reuse is considered and we finally quantify (approximate) the proportion of historic structures with reuse potential versus those under utilized structures that need to bit hit with a wrecking ball.
(To be continued…)