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Iconic Florida Building Faces Uncertain Future

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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"Tropical Brutalism"—a term coined by architectural historian Jean-Francois Lejeune to describe the slew of brutalist design in Miami—is being threatened, according to a nonprofit.

Doconomo US-Florida—a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of modern architecture—is requesting that the iconic Office in the Grove be designated a historical architectural resource to prevent it from being reconfigured, a fear sparked after the Dade Heritage Trust placed the building on its "Most Endangered Sites" list.

The Building

The Office in the Grove, an eight-story hexagonal concrete tower, designed by Kenneth Treister in 1973.

Though it's a commerical tower, the nonprofit argues that it still qualifies as a potential landmark because it was among the first buildings to be constructed of post-tensioned concrete slabs and entirely prefabricated concrete facade. The building also integrates art, with images styled into the concrete surface.

Doconomo US-Florida also explained that, “this was Miami’s first office building to give the community an eye-level, landscaped grass berm as its facade.”

"The form, shape and slope of the grass berm is part of the building’s architectural form; it mirrors the concrete battered walls and below the triangular concrete, fern planters," according to the organization's websaite. "The tall Royal Palms on 27th Ave. and the building’s point, all planted in 1970, are part of the original architecture."

The Problem

In addition to altering Miami's skyline, Doconomo US-Florida, as well as the Dade Heritage Trust, are trying to head off the reconfiguring of brutalist architecture—which is not unique to Miami.

In April, historians, architects and preservationist were up in arms when the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority decided to paint the historic Harry Weese-designed metro vault at the city’s Union Station bright white.

Then, The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts—the federal agency that oversees architectural development of the city—called the paint job an “alteration to an essential characteristic."

The hearing to decide whether Miami's Office in the Grove will get its historic status is scheduled for Sept. 5.


Tagged categories: Commercial / Architectural; Decorative concrete

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