Florida is known for its beautiful weather, sandy beaches, and weird news stories. Aside from those more well-known qualities, I think we have some pretty impressive architectural structures in this state that don’t get enough credit! I am lucky to live in a rapidly growing city (St. Petersburg) which includes many buildings on my list. However, I will also be venturing out of the St. Petersburg to places such as Tampa, Miami, Lakeland, and St. Augustine.
Salvador Dali Museum – St. Petersburg
The Dali Museum located in my home town houses the largest collection of Dalí’s works outside Europe. Designed by Yann Weymouth of the architectural firm HOK and built by The Beck Group, under the leadership of then-CEO Henry C. Beck III, it was built on the downtown waterfront next to the Mahaffey Theater, on the former site of the Bayfront Center, an arena that was demolished in 2004. The new, larger and more storm-secure museum opened on January 11, 2011. Reportedly costing over $30 million, this structure features a large glass entryway and skylight made of 1.5 inch thick glass. Referred to as the “Enigma”, the glass entryway is 75 feet tall and encompasses a spiral staircase. The remaining walls are composed of 18-inch thick concrete, designed to protect the collection from hurricanes. It is the perfect structure to hold the strange and unique artwork of Salvador Dali.
Florida Polytechnic University – Lakeland
Every time that I make a trip to Orlando, I get to drive past this massive, alien-like structure. One of these days I am going to stop and go inside! I think it is the coolest college building in Florida, if not the country! Florida Poly resides on a new 170-acre campus designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava that features a 160,000-square-foot Innovation, Science and Technology (IST) Building. The IST Building is home to the University’s Supercomputer, 3-D printing lab and digital library. Florida Poly is the first university whose main library is totally digital. Florida Poly opened for classes on August 25, 2014 with an inaugural class of 554 students.
Tampa Bay Hotel (now Plant Hall at University of Tampa) – Tampa
This former hotel is now one of the main buildings of the downtown campus of the University of Tampa and houses the Henry B. Plant Museum. It was built in the late nineteenth century by the railroad magnate Henry B. Plant as a luxury resort hotel, open from December to April. It had more than 500 rooms and hosted such famous guests as Teddy Roosevelt and Stephen Crane. Most of the rooms had their own baths, electricity and telephones, and luxury accoutrements from art work, Venetian mirrors, fine porcelains,and beautiful furniture–many examples of which can be seen today in the Plant Museum. This Gilded Age hotel provided a self-contained vacation, with delivery by train to the front door, rickshaw transportation through the exotic gardens, tennis, golf, and hunting, as well as water sports, formal balls and tea parties. University of Tampa is an all around gorgeous campus – and this building really makes it stand out in the city.
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church – Sarasota
St. Paul’s was built in 1958 by Victor A. Lundy. Lundy, trained at Harvard, got his start as an architect in Sarasota. Although he designed various types of buildings – civic, commercial, and religious – his churches often are a modern variation of Gothic with steep soaring roofs. He often used laminated wood beams and wood roof decking because it was an economical solution to span wide naves. In this particular project, window slits border both sides of the “buttress” and add interesting stained glass lighting effects in the interior.
Tampa Museum of Art – Tampa
The building, by architect Stanley Saitowitz, is designed to look like “an electronic jewel box sitting on a glass pedestal” and makes use of aluminum, glass, and fiber optic color-changing lights in the exterior walls to “make the building itself a work of art”. The interior is more neutral, with mostly white surfaces and subdued lighting. The architect describes it as “a frame for the display of art, an empty canvass to be filled with paintings, a beautiful but blank container to be completed by its contents.” It includes a gift shop and an indoor/outdoor cafe. In 2010, the Tampa Museum of Art was chosen as a winner of an American Architecture Award by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.
Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine
The Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. Located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, FL, the fort was designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza. Construction began in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. The fort’s construction was ordered by Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega after the destructive raid of the English privateer Robert Searles in 1668. Work proceeded under the administration of Guerra’s successor, Manuel de Cendoya in 1671, although the first stone was not laid until 1672.
Carlyle Hotel & McAlpin Hotel – Miami (Art Deco)
Art Deco curves abound in this stylish hotel–from the curved corners moved around to the side, emphasized by the eyebrows which follow the undulation, to the semicircular eyebrows over the front windows and those which halt the facade’s vertical fluting. The canopy here for the front porch is also the base for the upper stories, which is supported by delicate fluted columns. The decoration at the top is filigreed masonry. It was built by Richard Kiehnel and John Elliot in 1939. The McAlpin hotel (bottom) was built in 1940 by L.Murray Dixon. The McAlpin, includes the standard Art Deco tripartite facade. The vertical member in the central bay would have originally had a marquee. The signage over the door is very stylized.