Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Florida architect
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00073793/00310
 Material Information
Title: Florida architect
Series Title: Florida architect.
Physical Description: v. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
Creator: American Institute of Architects -- Florida Association
Florida Association of Architects
Publisher: Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects.
Place of Publication: Tallahassee Fla
Publication Date: Winter 1995
Frequency: quarterly
Subject: Architecture -- Periodicals -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Dates or Sequential Designation: Vol. 4, no. 3 (July 1954)-
Dates or Sequential Designation: Ceased in 1996.
Issuing Body: Official journal of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects.
Issuing Body: Issued by: Florida Association of Architects of the American Institute of Architects, 1954- ; Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects, <1980->.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00073793
Volume ID: VID00310
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 06827129
lccn - sn 80002445
issn - 0015-3907
 Related Items
Preceded by: Bulletin (Florida Association of Architects)
Succeeded by: Florida/Caribbean architect

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
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        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
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        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Back Cover
        Page 29
        Page 30
Full Text






225 South Swoope Avenue
Suite 205
Maitland, Florida 32751
Tel. (407) 539-2606
(800) 933-9380
Fax (407) 644-7901
Frank Bartus, President

World Trade Center
Orlando, Florida

VOA Associates, Inc.

Media: Designers Gouache on airbrush enhanced photo print




217 East Hallandale Beach Blvd. Hallandale, FL 33009

P-itteo Arcit
P6ntt 6. -s
Flrd nsiueo

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Winter 1995
Vol. 42. No. 4

El Tuque Transportation
Terminal, Ponce, Puerto
Rico. Photo: Mar Torro.


A View Toward

Architecture of

the Caribbean


Leading by Example 10
The restoration of the Colegio de Arquitectos headquarters
in an old section of San Juan by Architect Beatriz del
Cueto, AIA, has been fully documented as a teaching tool.

Promoting Connections with Nature 12
The Botanical Gardens Cafd by Rigau + Penabad
Arquitectos sits like a jewel in its lush surroundings.

Revitalizing an Elegant Home for Business 14
The restoration ofAntonin Nechodoma's Casa Benitez
(built 1910) turned out to be a monumental undertaking
for Benjamin Vargas, AIA; but look at the results.

Public Utility with a Flair 16
El Tuque Transportation Terminal is a comfortable
place to wait, thanks to Bermlidez Calzada Arquitectos
& Agrait Berm idez Betancourt Arquitectos.

Mediating Sol y Sombra (Sun and Shade) 19
Marvel Flores Cobian y Asociados created an office
lower that's both urbane and user-friendly.

Built to Last: Preserving a Grand Old Image 20
The 150-year old Grand Hotel is being revitalized as a
downtown meeting place by Wallace Roberts & Todd.


Editorial 5
News 6
New Products and Services 9
Books 22
Viewpoint 25
by Thomas S. Marvel, FAIA
Viewpoint 27
by Edward J. Seibert, AIA

FI.( AII)A .\.RCITECT Winter 1995

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Florida Association of the
American Institute of Architects
104 East Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
Editorial Board
John Totty, AIA, Chairman
Ivan Johnson, I, AIA
Karl Thorne, AIA
Richard Reep, AIA
Vice President/President-elect
William Blizzard, AIA
Keith Bullock, AIA
Past President
John Tice, AIA
Regional Director
Thomas Marvel, FAIA
Santurce, PR
Regional Director
Henry Alexander, AIA
Coral Gables
Vice President for
Professional Excellence
Roy Knight, AIA
Vice President for
Political Effectiveness
John Cochran, AIA
Vice President for
John Awsumb, AIA
Publisher/Executive Vice
George A. Allen, CAE, Hon. AIA
Assistant Publisher
Joanna Booth
Director of Advertising
Carolyn Maryland
Margaret Barlow
Art Director
Peter Denes
Contributing Editor
Diane Greer
Computer Graphics
Insty-Prints of Tallahassee
Boyd Brothers, Inc.
Florida Architect, Official Journal of the
Florida Association of the American Institute
of Architects, is owned and published by
the Association, a Florida Corporation not
for profit. ISSN-0015-3907. It is published
four times a year at the Executive Office
of the Association, 104 East Jefferson St.,
Tallahassee, Florida 32301. Telephone (904)
Opinions expressed by contributors are not
necessarily those of the FA/AIA. Editorial
material may be reprinted only with the
express permission of Forida Architect.
Single copies, $6.00; Annual subscription,
$20.33. Third class postage.


P cutting together this issue on architecture in the Caribbean has been a
challenge. To begin with, we received over 40 excellent projects! Florida
Architect contributing editor Diane Greer spent an afternoon helping us
select a representative variety of residential and commercial projects. Then the
hurricanes hit the Caribbean-two of them, causing confusion and some
destruction. Most of the people we spoke with were lucky, for which we are
thankful. One of our selections, Qualle and Brown Architects' Daly Residence
on St. Thomas's East End, did not make it into the issue, as after Hurricane
Marilyn we lost contact. We fear the worst but hope for the best.
In fact, in recent months most of us in Florida as well as our Caribbean
compatriots have felt the strain, if not the waste, of hurricanes. We learn some
lesson each time in the wake of their fury. Much has been made of the survival
of the Seaside community amidst the destruction of almost all of its surround-
ings by Hurricane Opal, which hit Northwest Florida. Seaside's architects' and
developers' accommodation to and regard for the coastal environment, with its
happy results, has earned them renewed appreciation and respect.
Island architects, too, have learned from new technology as well as from
local traditions how to build-in hurricane protection. Old bastions such as the
Grand Hotel in Charlotte Amalie, built 150 years ago, continue to weather such
storms. Those working on the islands, including recent arrivals, quickly become
aware of environmental and local building traditions that have their roots in
survival of these and other trials of place.
On the subject of place, two viewpoints we requested for this issue because
of their writers' Caribbean connections coincidentally present two interesting
"takes" on architecture of place. Eminent Sarasota architect Edward J. (Tim)
Seibert got his career off to a singular start in Cuba. Tom Marvel has lived and
worked in Puerto Rico for 36 years.
It is our pleasure to introduce a small sample of Caribbean architecture in
these pages. It is clear that planning for sun and rain, heat and humidity, hurri-
canes, multiple cultural legacies, and delicate ecosystems are just a few of the
interests shared by architects in Florida and the Caribbean, and we hope that
through this issue we may help facilitate an expanded dialogue. Also, to those
friends in the Caribbean whose projects we were unable to accommodate this
time, we extend a sincere invitation to submit projects for future issues. MB

Florida Architect serves the profession by providing current information on design, practice management, technology,
environment, energy, preservation and development of communities, construction, finance, economics, as well as other
political, social, and cultural issues that impact the field.


Business Horizons
The Caribbean Basin
Members of AIA Florida and
AIA Puerto Rico have partnered
in developing Business Hori-
zons, a Caribbean Basin Initia-
tive (CBI). Both chapters are
providing seed money to devel-
op the cooperative initiative.
Spearheaded by Florida AIA
Public Awareness Vice President
John Awsumb, AIA, and Luis
Badillo, AIA, Puerto Rico, the
mission is regional bridging
through the development of
business opportunities.
Activities will emphasize
opening up access to informa-
tion throughout the region. Pro-
ject development began with
creation of a home page on the
internet to encourage ongoing
planning and discussions. This
"virtual conference" on the
World Wide Web allows for a
continuous refocusing of ideas.
Regional bridging gives both
groups the opportunity to form
a solid business, educational
and cultural exchange. Ex-
change is the key to managing
cultural differences in order to
explore business opportunities
all around the region.
Business Horizons has been
structured to represent educa-
tion, communication, govern-
ment and business components.
The geographic region includes
Florida, Puerto Rico, and Costa
Rica, the Caribbean triangle,
(replacing the Bermuda trian-
gle), and any countries touching
the Caribbean Basin. The virtual
location prior to the actual con-
ference resides on the internet's
World Wide Web at: http://www.
symnet. net/Business/bhcbi
A Business Horizons Carib-
ean Conference is being orga-
nized to meet in San Juan,

Puerto Rico, in the future.
Until then, CBI participants are
taking advantage of the internet
to decide on topics for the con-
ference and to stimulate interest
in the initiative.

Life on the World
Wide Web
AIA Florida and CBI
Internet Home Pages
Are Up!
Public Awareness Vice Presi-
dent John Awsumb, AIA, of
Orlando, demonstrated the loca-
tion of the home pages for AIA
Florida and the Caribbean Basin
Initiative (CBI) on the internet
at the October 26 AIA Florida
Board of Directors meeting in
Miami. The pages are in a devel-
opmental phase but are avail-
able for use by members and the
public. Each page is at a sepa-
rate location, but they are linked
so that users may travel directly
between them. The home page
for AIA National also is linked
with the AIA Florida home page.
The internet address for AIA
Florida's page is: http://www.
The CBI page address is:

Opal Updates
The community of Destin, in
Florida's Panhandle, experi-
enced severe damage from Hur-
ricane Opal when it hit on
October 4, 1995. In the days
after the storm passed, a group
of building and design profes-
sionals helped organize the
rebuilding efforts. Architects,
engineers, and contractors in
Destin collected information on
how to do damage assessments
and what to tell homeowners
about making repairs. AIA Flori-
da responded with a list of
resource people and previous
disaster response information
collected from AIA Miami, AIA
California Council, AIA Honolu-
lu, and AIA National.

The rebuilding experience
revealed several serious prob-
lems. According to Don David,
Jr., AIA, Ft. Walton Beach, "The
building officials and permitting
agencies needed a streamlined
procedure to handle the volume
of requests to process permits."
David also expressed concerns
about many people who suffered
damage and were asking for
assessments on rebuilding or
repairs that the team could not
respond to. "We served our
clients, where we had knowl-
edge of the projects. Many
architects and engineers were
concerned about the liability
involved in those other assess-
ments. It's a shame, because
people needed the services,"
he said. David also described
a large number of "disaster
specialists" that descended on
the disaster area. "Some of
those 'experts' were fakes,"
stated David, "but many were
honest and sincere. These indi-
viduals will do scope of work for
the public, but there is still a
problem with the warranty of
such work."
Follow-up to rebuilding
efforts will include cataloguing
resources at AIA Florida head-
quarters. The newly formed
Florida/Caribbean Disaster
Assistance Team, Inc. produced

a resource list at the request of
the group in Destin. Efforts are
being made to prepare a more
timely response to the next need
for information and assistance.

Seaside Stands Strong
The community of Seaside,
which Time magazine declared
one of the best designed areas
in this century, gets more lau-
rels. Seaside was right in the
middle of the storm area affect-
ed by Hurricane Opal. Reports
indicate it was scuffed up a little
but made it through intact. Very
little damage occurred to the
280 homes built behind sand
dunes, away from the beach
area. Designed by Andres
Duany and Elizabeth Plater-
Zyberk, Architects & Town Plan-
ners, Miami, with homes
designed by other architects in
North and South Florida, the
community reflects building
techniques and zoning require-
ments to improve safety guide-
lines for hurricane damage.
Design elements which proved
important were that at the front
of the development, homes
were built on pilings sunk 40
feet deep, roof pitch was con-
trolled in addition to the height
of the buildings, asphalt shin-
gles were prohibited and
tin roofs were anchored with

Caribbean Cottage, Seaside, Florida. 1991 AIA Florida Award
for Excellence in Architecture. Cooper Johnson Smith Architects
Inc., Tampa. Photo: George Cott, Chroma Inc.

FIO )II).\ .\DRIIITE(T Winter 1995

screws instead of n
"This is kind of
of virtue in constr
Duany. "It isn't ju
gence to build well.

Of Note
Karl Thorne, 1
ville, was appointed
ber by Gov. Chiles

architect represent
Florida Board of Bi
and Standards Co
replaces Larry Sc
Miami, who comply
year term
James R. Frai
is the No-Longer-i
low at AIA Nation

ails. F/C DAT Springs to Life
a vindication The AIA Florida Board of
auction said Directors approved the request
Ist an indul- by Jerome Filer, AIA, Miami, to
form the Florida/Caribbean Dis-
aster Assistance Team, Inc. (F/C
DAT) at the October 26 meeting
A, G in Miami. The disaster assis-
UA, Gaines-
i- tance organization will provide
d in Septem- expertise and skills of architects
', as the new
Sas t new to communities before, during
and after times of natural disas-
ter or other catastrophic events.
Committee members pro-
Karl duced Articles of Incorporation
Thorne, AA and an implementation plan.
F/C DAT Committee member
Mark Reeves, AIA, has offered
to complete the legal require-
ments for preparing the incor-
poration papers and filing the
tative on the corporation with the State of
building Codes Florida and the IRS. Fundraising
mmittee. He activities may commence as
hneider, AIA, soon as the corporation is filed
eted his four- with the state.
F/C DAT will respond to needs
iklln, FAIA, throughout the region, including
Resident Fel- AIA chapters in Puerto Rico and
al. Jim is the the Virgin Islands. Regional as
well as AIA National support is
strong, as disaster preparedness
James R. becomes prudent and proactive
Franklin, program development.

new Resident Fellow at Cal Poly,
San Luis Obispo, California,
College of Architecture and
Environmental Design. Franklin
remains available to help orga-
nize and facilitate workshops,
seminars, and symposia for
students, educators, and practi-
tioners within the design profes-
Schenkel Shultz Inc.'s
Cypress Lake Center for the Arts
in Ft. Myers was among the
"innovative and effective school
designs" cited in the March 1995
issue of Learning by Design, A
School Leader's Guide to
Architectural Services.


Florida Architect
Themes for 1996
The themes for the 1996
issues of Florida Architect are
*Spring Lighting
*Summer Housing (residential
& affordable, etc.)
* all Awards
*Winter Florida Schools of
Themes for Florida Architect
are meant to be broadly inter-
preted and not restrictive. For a
media kit and production calen-
dar, contact Carolyn Maryland
at AIA Florida Headquarters,
904-222-7590. (We are always
interested in hearing about
good projects frmn less dense-
ly populated areas. Let Mar-
garet Barlow or Joanna Booth
know where these gems are
located! Ed.)





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FI. II)AA.\RCIIITECT Winter 1995

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Leading By Example

Colegio de Arquitectos de
Puerto Rico Headquarters
Santurce, Puerto Rico
Arch. Beatriz del Cueto,
AIA, Architects and
Historic Preservation

Tn 1988, ten years after its for-
Imation, the Colegio de Arqui-
tectos (Architects Association)
de Puerto Rico began its search
for a permanent headquarters.
The group voted to acquire a
historic property instead of
constructing a new building.
Such an acquisition would
serve not only to identify the
association with a dignified
and unique landmark but to
demonstrate the viability of
recycling existing structures
within the modern urban fabric
of metropolitan San Juan.
The subsequent restoration
project brought Arch. Beatriz
del Cueto, AIA, a Puerto Rico
Chapter 1995 AIA Honor Award
for Excellence in Design.
Selected for the new head-
quarters was a 5,200 sf 1910
residence, originally constructed
by architect-engineer Rafael del
Valle Zeno, of load-bearing mold-
ed grey concrete block walls,
patterned to imitate rough-cut
stone. The roof was corrugated
zinc, and the roof structure and
other architectural details were
of wood. Interior ceilings were
elaborately patterned pressed
tin sheets. Finished interior and
exterior flooring were of tongue-
and-groove wood planking and
ornate concrete tiles, respectively.
The fundamental concept of
the restoration was to create a
fully functional organizational
headquarters in this historic
residence without sacrificing its
architectural character. It was
important to maintain the spa-
tial quality and essence of the
existing building and surround-
ing vegetation even though the
present use differs significantly

Interior patio: Now a bright meeting spot, gray patterned block and while painted wood reflect
original color scheme, while new transoms reveal added hues. Photograph: Agamemnon Gus

Pantel, Ph.D.

from its original function. The
architect's intervention re-
quired reconstruction of deteri-
orated roofs and floors and
duplication of doors, windows,
and other original elements
using materials compatible with
the historic fabric.
While providing solutions for
replacing or restoring deterio-
rated elements, architect del
Cueto also had to comply with
the program and needs of the
new owners. Modem electrical
and mechanical systems are
integrated into the original fab-
ric without affecting the quality
of the original spaces or sur-
faces by the construction of a
service raceway beneath the
floors. A hollow cornice sur-
rounding each interior space
was created to accommodate a
new lighting system.
Based on historic research
and documentation of the house
and of architecture in Puerto

Rico at the beginning of the
century, a new color scheme
was incorporated. In addition
to the original textures and
found colors (gray block, silver
roofing, and white painted
wooden elements) of the peri-
od, the new scheme added blue,

amber, and green to elements
such as exterior translucent
glass transoms for doors and
windows, hydraulic cement tiles
(specially designed for this pro-
ject), and the corrugated steel
roofing panels. The dramatic
change in color is harmonious

Sn -

S. .. . .

"I Ii L "' t -. "

S... ..... "..
A itl' -----
d4 _-


Front facade. The interest of the divided facade is accentuated by night-time lighting. The initial phase of the project included
restoring structural integrity, replacing deteriorated elements, and harmoniously integrating new modern electrical and
mechanical systems. Photograph: Agamemnon Gus Pantel, Ph.D.

to the original design and high-
lights the basic construction
A fountain now graces the
interior patio, which formerly
housed a well for the removal
of reserve water from an under-
ground cistern. The substitution
is meant to evoke tradition
while providing an inviting
centerpiece in a gathering place
for association activities.
As one of the major challen-
ges confronting the restoration
was financing, the project is
being completed in stages. The
initial phase has succeeded in
reestablishing the architectural
integrity of the structure and


meeting the needs of the associ-
ation for a functional headquar-
ters. Pending work for future
phases will include interior and
exterior detailing and major
The work of the specialized.
professionals undertaking vari-
ous aspects of the restoration
has been fully documented as
an important source of informa-
tion for students, architects,
and others interested in the
preservation process. Filming
in both 35mm still and 8mm
video formats has documented
the entire project.
In their restored headquar-
ters, the Colegio de Arquitectos

will increasingly play host to
meetings of architects, interior
designers, planners, contrac-
tors, and other professionals
related to the construction
industry in Puerto Rico and
the Caribbean. The facilities
also will be open to the public
for special exhibits. With its
smart use of existing spaces
and execution of restoration
techniques, and the invisibility
of many of the modern inter-
ventions into original elements
of the building, the architect
and the association have suc-
ceeded in adding intrinsic value
to a historic structure and,
more important, have created

an inviting working atmosphere
for Colegio members.

Architect: Arch. Beatriz del
Cueto, AIA, Architects and His-
toric Preservation Consultants
Principal in charge: Arch.
Beatriz del Cueto, AIA
Structural Engineer: Eng.
Cesar A. Corretjer Associates
Mechanical Engineer: Eng.
Osvaldo Marcano
Electrical Engineer: Eng.
Andres Sainchez Carri6n
General Contractor: The
ESCO Group, Arch. Eliezer
Escobar and Eng. Angel Col6n
Owner: Colegio de Arquitectos
de Puerto Rico

Promoting Connections with Nature

Cafe for the Botanical
University of Puerto Rico
Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico
Rigau + Penabad

The design philosophy of
Jorge Rigau, AIA, and Juan
Penabad's firm imposes chal-
lenges beyond those expected
for a work of architecture. Each
of their structures is intended
to be understood in relation to
the broader context of
Caribbean architecture. By
investigating and renewing
local typologies, styles, and
spatial conceptions, they have
sought to create contemporary
expressions for designs that
look "so regional that they can
be nowhere else."
This award-winning project,
originally conceived as a green-
house set amidst the botanical
gardens, also reflects the ver-
nacular "tower" architecture of
the island. The architects
intended that visitors experi-
ence the building as a found
object in its magnificent natural
setting. Several pedestrian
walkways meet at the site, two
of which grant distinctly differ-
ent perceptions of the cafeteria:
one axial and formal, the other
more dynamic offering a colli-
sion of forms. The overall
composition is based upon two
main components-a taller one
that dominates the landscape
and another, low-key structure
that orthogonally relates
to the other built elements on
the site.
The design's literal reference
to a greenhouse-a manmade
intervention that highly regards
nature-seems appropriate
here. The somewhat irregularly
shaped tower becomes under-
standable in relation to built as
well as natural surroundings.
An adjacent block structure is
integrated into the design by its
relation to the one-story back

Front view, eiv'nim Alijlcitil lighting plays up contrast oj lightness and massivity achieved
with traditional I bu ilinl materials.

FI,. )RII),% .kN(:IIITE(:T Winter 19951

section of the cafeteria (hous-
ing the kitchen and all supple-
mentary facilities), which then
forms the base upon which to
perceive the rotated position of
the main volume.
The two-story structure
houses indoor and terrace
dining areas. Environmental
considerations required careful
planning to minimize distur-
bance of existing tree.s and
dense vegetation on the site.
Even underground trenches for
the primary electricity were laid
out painstakingly to avoid inter-
fenng with tree roots. On the
other hand, the shade provided
Ib t these valued trees eliminated
the need for air conditioning in
the first-floor dining room and
inspired numerous outdoor
dining terraces.
A limited budget ordained
the use of the most familiar
local construction materials:
structural steel and reinforced
concrete. Expert use of these
contemporary materials can
obtain the ci lnt rast ing expres-
sions of light nes and massivity
reminiscent of the wood/stuc-
coed masonry/wrought-iron
island architecture.
Heavy glazing of the upper-
story dining room allows for
natural light and views onto the
lush environs. Open corners
play up sculpturally the flat
concrete against the sunlight,
and at the same time, like
Caribbean cornerguards, they
anchor the building to local
building traditions. A highly
articulated surface containing
small glass panes tightly set
in place by slurdy. extruded
aluminum frames was used in
consideration of the risk of
storm-weather effects on large
expanses of glass. Such "over-
designing" of the structural
capacity of the system improves
the expected resistance to wind
The one-story service por-
tion of the building features
long, narrow windows and hol-

FI.,RII).\ ARCHITECT Winter 1995

Rear view. Afound object in its natlrurl selling. .4pprit hing
visitors experience a collision offorms.

low-core steel or galvanized
steel roll-up doors. In case of
flooding, floor drains connect to
the sewer system. Construction
of the facility required special
coordination from the outset
with a commercial kitchen
designer. This ensured a proper-
ly functional structure and
helped maximize efficiency in
use of space.
A distinctive feature of
Caribbean architecture is the
cultural binding of building
and context, which promotes
communication between interi-
or and exterior spaces. In the
Botanical Gardens Cafe, this
characteristic has been cele-
brated by inviting the presence
and participation of nature to
enhance spaces intended for
the pleasure of visitors to this
beautiful spot. The project gar-
nered honors at recent Puerto
Rico and Caribbean Biennales
and a Puerto Rico Chapter
1994 AIA Honor Award for
Excellence in Design.

Architect: Rigau + Penabad
Principals in charge: Jorge
Rigau, AIA, Juan Penabad
Landscape Architect: Angel
Rodriguez, Arch., A.S.L.A.
Structural Engineer:
Pedro Dario del Nero, PE.
Mechanical Engineer:
Osvaldo Marcano, PE.
Electrical Engineer: Ricardo
Rodriguez del Valle, PE.
General Contractor:
EMCO Construction, Eng.
Fernando Echegaray
Construction Management:
Carlos J. Martinez Soto &
Assoc., Eng. Jose Lebron
University of Puerto Rico

Interior Upper-story dining room gives a view onto the Johnny Betancourt,
gardens. Articulated glazed walls create dramatic interior Arch. Ivonne Marcial,
effects. Arch. Jorge Rigau

Revitalizing an Elegant Home for Business

Casa Benitez Restoration
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Benjamin Vargas,

Casa Benitez was built in
1910 in the exclusive Mira-
mar section of San Juan, for
Jos6 Benitez, owner of vast
sugar cane holdings. The house
was designed and built by
Czechoslovakia-born Antonin
Nechodoma (1877-1928), who
came to the islands via Chicago,
where he learned of the newly
forming Prairie School. Arriving
in 1905, he introduced to Puer-
to Rico the use of reinforced
concrete as a major structural
Well suited for the island
climate, this Bungalow Style
design featured a wide veranda
running the full width of the
house and sheltered by an
expansive roof as its principal
front element. The house was
set back on a gently sloping lot,
its location fixed by an axis
running perpendicular from
the street along the entrance
walk through the front door,
living room, interior patio, and
freestanding octagonal dining
room, passing finally into a
great terrace overlooking the
Candado lagoon. The bedrooms
were organized around the
interior patio.
Throughout the house the
architect used stained-glass
double-hung windows with
wide, stained-glass doors to
match, moldings, transoms,
and balustrades. The dining
room, featuring a delicately
beamed wood ceiling and
exquisitely detailed wood pan-
eling and wainscot, was venti-
lated by pivoting stained-glass
clerestory windows. Besides
new decorative motifs, the
architect introduced technologi-
cal advances such as electricity,
reinforced concrete walls and
foundations, and elegant
stamped-tin shingle roofing.

Renovated interior courtyard now spans two stories and
brings sunlight into basement officers. Photograph: Oris George.

The Benitez family occupied
the house until the 1950s, when
it was converted into a boarding
house. By the early 1980s it
stood empty. In 1985 the adver-
tising agency of Israel Rod-
riguez (IR&P) purchased the
building to be restored and
rehabilitated as its headquar-
ters-a monumental undertak-
ing, as it turned out, but with
magnificent results.
Keeping the original layout
and decoration, architect Ben-
jamin Vargas, AIA, modified the
structure to accommodate the
agency's needs and modern

equipment. The greatest alter-
ation was the addition of a
basement to house electronic
equipment, a darkroom, and a
recording studio. Creating the
basement called for a ten-foot
excavation under the existing
concrete foundations, which
had to be braced with wood
scaffolding while the new foun-
dation wall was poured beneath.
Site conditions allowed only the
use of hand-held tools that
would not cause any vibrations
that might disturb the precari-
ous state of the foundations.
Since no soils or structural con-

sultant would accept liability for
such an unorthodox procedure,
architect Vargas supervised the
long and grueling process.
Progress was hampered fur-
ther by a high water table that
dictated a network of French
drains under the new basement
slab. Essential reinforcement of
the interior veranda opening to
the patio was achieved by plac-
ing steel beams under the
veranda and transferring that
load to the new basement walls
Now the patio works as an
atrium with two levels of cir-
culation, bringing in much-
needed sunlight to the new
basement area. The steel beams
have been covered with wood
paneling and incorporated into
a coffered ceiling motif similar
to that in the dining room, now
a conference room. The original
patio fountain, carefully restored,
was placed at the center of the
new atrium.
The successful integration of
the sophisticated requirements
of the new owner while retain-
ing the original quality of the
spaces and details points up the
ingenuity behind the restoration
and rehabilitation of this his-
toric structure. What turned
out to be a difficult rescue
effort effectively restored to
the people of Puerto Rico an
important landmark. In an
effort to share their precious
jewel with the community,
IR&P open Casa Benitez for a
variety of public gatherings
and concerts.

Architect: Benjamin Vargas,
Preservation Consultant:
Pablo Ojeda O'Neill
Structural Engineer:
Manuel SAnchez-Galloza
Mechanical Consultant:
Pedro Izauierdo
Owner: Israel Rodriguez &
Partners, Inc.


Rear view, executive offices, formerly the terrace facing Condado Lagoon. Example of characteristic difference between public
and private spheres, front and back, of Casa Benitez. Photograph: Oris George.

The wide verandah
runs the full width
of the House,
sheltered by an
expansive roof
as its unifying
Benjamin Vargas,

Reception area was
main living room.
New stained glass
windows and doors
were designed by
Carmen Mendoza.
Benjamin Vargas,


Public Utility with a Flair

El Tuque Transportation
Ponce, Puerto Rico
Bermiidez Calzada
Arquitectos & Agrait
Bermuidez Betancourt

Transportation terminals play
an important role in central-
izing public transit facilities in
cities across the island. This
simple, highly functional and
appealing structure, although
set on a site with narrow front-
age in the midst of the industri-
al district of Ponce, succeeds
in providing a strong public
The site, which is surround-
ed by huge industrial buildings,
was a gently sloping lot 100' x
350' set between a secondary
access road on the north and a
main highway on the south.
Despite the narrow frontage of
the lot, visual exposure was
maximized by locating the ter-
minal, a linear north-south
structure, on its northern edge.
A modulation system was
superimposed to establish loca-
tions of the built elements and
those used to accommodate
various vehicles. The column
grid extends to the sides of the
lot, where trees mark the inter-
sections. For the parking area
located at the back, a steel trel-
lis supported by concrete
columns extends the grid and
provides a green response to
the highway.
The terminal building is an
island, with passenger pick-up
and drop-off points on opposite
sides. A basilical plan covered
by a steel vault creates an airy,
open waiting area for passen-
gers. Drop-off and pick-up
areas on either side have low,
flat roofs. Reinforced concrete
columns and walls support both
concrete side overhangs and
the main steel trusses of the
corrugated steel central vault.
Cubic volumes with punched

Front facade. The horizontal emphasis defies the narrow frontage of the lot and helps support a
strong public presence.

windows define the northern
and southern extremes of the
space, which contain the cafe-
teria, rest rooms, drivers'
lounge, administrative offices,
and vehicle repair area-all
functions that required enclo-
Architect Manuel Bermfidez
intended the design to create a
visual and formal link between
the terminal and the neighbor-
ing factories whose employees
it serves. Historically, the basili-
cal plan with high vaulted ceil-
ing and low lateral naves has
been commonly used both for
industrial buildings and trans-
portation terminals in Puerto
Rico and elsewhere. The local
connection was stressed with
the type of materials used and
in detailing: concrete floors,
steel trusses and beams, metal
door and gates, and roll-up
shutters. Finally, the paint

.t j,




drawing shows
three different
zones form the
spine of the
main building
along its long
axis: the central
waiting room
and the two
loading strips.
The rear
parking area
extends the

., I X 7

Interior Industrial-type materials such as concrete floors, steel trusses and beams, and metal doors, gates and roll-up shutters
combine with natural light and ventilation to create a comfortable waiting room. The color scheme adds interest and reflects
local pride.

scheme served a dual purpose:
red, black, and yellow are found
in neighboring buildings as well
as in the coat of arms of the
city of Ponce.
To meet tight budget con-
straints, a reinforced structure
poured in place was used for all
sections of the building except
the waiting area, where a steel
vault was employed. This ele-
ment was difficult to obtain
because local steel manufactur-
ing companies lacked the tech-
nology to fabricate a curved
roof with the ribs occurring
perpendicular to the curve.
This roof, which was then man-


ufactured on the mainland and
shipped, became the most ex-
pensive component of the
The building was planned
for energy efficiency and takes
full advantage of the tropical
climate. The waiting room is
completely open and the tem-
perature is always comfortable.
Just below the vaulted roof are
louvered windows and glass
panes that support natural ven-
tilation and lighting. The deep
overhangs of the drop-off and
pick-up areas protect passen-
gers from the elements. In the
enclosed areas, too, louvered

windows permit natural ventila-
tion while keeping out sun and

Architect: Manuel Bermidez
Blanquita Calzada Arquitectos
& Agrait Bermfidez Betancourt
Design Team: Manuel
Bermddez, AIA, Eda Diaz-
Villalobos, Joaquin Berdasco-
Structural Engineers:
PDN Structural Engineers,
McCloskey Structural Engineers
Civil Engineer:
Jesis Suarez & Assoc.

Engineer: Basora y L6pez
Contractor: N. LLuch
Construction, S.E.
Owner: Ponce Municipal

Photographs: Max Torro



Frank Bartus, president of Genesis
Studios, is an experienced illustrator
dedicated to the artistic expression
of Architecture.

The renderings shown are done in
designer's gouache, hand painted
with some airbrush, on illustration
board. The views are constructed
using computer generated wireframes
which afford multiple views prior to
painting. Views may also be drawn via
the projection method.

In addition to the styles described
above, we also offer an array of "loose
styles" and can produce renderings
on (see Orange County Convention
Center) photographs of existing sites.

Please contact Genesis Studios for
more information and references.

Mole! comoiex In Ltaneuena. oesiuneo ov vvmnssociate5. Inc., %llicauluivn[Iu

arvat Peacock/Architects, Inc., Maitland, FL

Pool scene, milton urand vacations, designed Dy i-eiman Huney unarvat reacocK/Arcnltects, Inc., Maitlano, I-L

225 South Swoope Avenue
Suite 205
Maitland, Florida 32751

Tel. (407) 539-2606
(800) 933-9380
Fax (407) 644-7901

Frank Bartus, President


Mediating Sol y Sombra (Sun and Shade)

Muioz Rivera 270
Office Building
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Marvel Flores Cobian y

By studying the sun pattern
from sunrise to sunset, an
architect learns to defend the
four sides of a building from
intense rays. The obvious solu-
tion, no matter what the loca-
tion, is to specify reflective
glass, effectively to block them
out. In designing this large
office building on the edge of
the downtown Hato Rey area,
architect Tom Marvel took a
different approach. "We custom
designed a building skin that
would use the native material
of Puerto Rico (concrete) and
the advanced technology of
construction (precast, prefin-
ished window wall modules)
and would effectively treat the
sun as a friend, to create sculp-
tural shadow patterns on the
facade, instead of as an enemy,
blocking it all out defensively
with mirrored glass."
And it works. The principal
tenant-owner, a prominent San
Juan law firm, is impressed
with the comfort of the interior.
No direct sunlight enters the
The structure accommodates
a two-level bank, entering off
the lobby, 550 parking spaces,
eleven floors of office space,
and a roof athletic club. The
parking floors were treated as
a base. Parking facilities are
arranged in staggered levels,
with six decks underground
and thirteen above street level.
A bold arch form defines the
entrance, which directs one to
the building and elevator lobby.
An arcade along three sides of
the building provides shade and
rain protection to pedestrians.
It also creates a deep shadow
pattern where building meets


View from southeast corner facing Mufioz Rivera Avenue.
Arched main entrance opens into the commercial area.
Photograph: Gil Amiaga.



', / *

Detail of inside corner Precast modules, including recessed glass
areas with precast overhang attached to each panel, control the
sun's impact on the interior spaces. Photograph: Gil Amiaga.

On the exterior, semisolid
precast panels with square
openings cover the parking
levels. At the office levels, the
exterior surface responds to
the use of the interior spaces
and the facade's orientation.
Articulated precast modules
that control the sun's impact
on the interior spaces were
used for these floors. All glass
areas are recessed and a pre-
cast overhang is attached to
each panel. Both the east and
south facades feature double-
height window modules-one
for the reception area, the
other for the firm's law library.
The precast panels have a
bushhammer finish exposing a
mix of local quarry aggregates
selected by the architects. At
the office levels, granite panels
anchored during the process of
casting the concrete accentuate
the precast panels.
The roof athletic club was
treated as a "sculptural event"
on the topside of a broad roof
overhang. It gives the building
the appearance of being cov-
ered by a hat for sun and rain

Architect: Marvel Flores
Cobian y Asociados
Principal in charge:
Thomas S. Marvel, FAIA
Landscape Architect:
Structural Engineer:
McCloskey Acevedo
Mechanical Engineer:
Jose Puig & Associates
Electrical Engineer:
Jose Requena & Associates
General Contractor:
F&R Construction Co.
Owner: Mufioz Rivera 270
Partnership, S.E.

Built to Last: Preserving a Grand Old Image

The Grand Hotel
Charlotte Amalie,
St. Thomas
Wallace Roberts & Todd

In May of 1840, the Commer-
cial Hotel and Coffee House
opened for business in the capi-
tal city of Charlotte Amalie. The
structure was designed to with-
stand hurricanes, and its heavy
rubble masonry walls and shut-
tered windows and doors have
withstood many storms, includ-
ing the most recent, Hugo and
Renamed the Grand Hotel
almost a century ago, this
landmark has been a center of
Charlotte Amalie's history and
culture. The island's celebrated
Carnival culminates in the
square just in front. Thus, in
conceptualizing a total renova-
tion of the Grand Hotel as a
complex, it was important to
preserve its historic character.
The Grand Hotel consists
of four discrete but related his-
toric structures linked by court-
yards, gates, arched masonry
stairs, and passages, as well
as by shared central service
areas and utilities. Its location
adjacent to the Emancipation
Gardens and near Fort Christ-
ian places the complex as a
symbolic centerpiece and acti-
vity hub of tourist and retail
areas. In keeping with the in-
tention of the adaptive reuse
of the complex, WRT's design
concept was aimed at creating
an inviting and exciting shop-
ping and dining environment
for both tourists and "locals."
Development of a passage
from the foot of Main Street
through the building and into
the courtyard was intended to
introduce pedestrian flow
through the complex and pro-
vide better exposure and en-
trances for retail spaces. Such
long, narrow walkways tradi-
tionally connect the harbor


Exterior (south) seen along Tolbod Pladsen, showing gates at the two existing entry points that
were opened up into the courtyard. Photograph: Ryce Stallings

front and Main Street in the
old districts of the city. The
course of the new passage was
designed to alter traditional
downtown walking-around
patterns to embrace the Grand
Hotel. In addition, difficult

curbless, narrow (18-inch)
sidewalks that hindered access
on the Norre Gade side of the
complex were improved by
removing intruding stairs and
installing new blue bitch indige-
nous stone walkways.

Firstfloor plan. Courtyard and exterior renovations are com-
plete. Some retail and office areas are complete and occupied.
Atrium will be completed during phase 2.

The unique architectural
heritage of Charlotte Amalie
influenced design elements that
were introduced to unify the
project. Island styles are reflect-
ed in the arched masonry stairs,
elegant gates, and intimate pas-
sageways. The courtyard, previ-
ously a backspace to support
functional hotel systems, was
transformed into a public
space. Two existing entry
points into this courtyard were
opened up and a new one creat-
ed on the west end to draw in
Internally, a ground-level re-
tail arcade links the shopping
and office areas with courtyard
cafes. In phase two, to be be-
gun next year, a skylighted atri-
um will visually connect the
two levels of the building. An
upper-level restaurant and bar
that give onto a harbor view
also will overlook Main Street.
With courtyard space no
longer available to house M/E/P
systems, new technologies were


Retail shop interior (Doucet-Stanton Jewelers) opens onto street, showing exposed rubble
masonry from original construction. Photograph: Joseph Molitor

Courtyard, looking toward east gate, where passage is marked
by one of several arched masonry stairs. Photograph: Ryce

employed to integrate and
relocate these systems. Split-dx
units were chosen over a cool-
water system using fiberglass
cooling towers and Florida heat
pumps because of local circum-
stances, including poor water
Water runoff and water quali-
ty require special consideration
on the island. Storm water
runoff is channeled into the his-
toric guts (uncovered ditches
constructed of blue bitch and
brick) and into the bay. Drink-
ing water is collected from the
roofs and stored in cisterns.
The traditional galvanized steel
roofs and gutters work well,
but for the flat roofs, an EPA-
approved membrane roof sys-

tem was selected to prevent
water contamination.
An original third floor was
removed sometime after 1896,
due to severe hurricane dam-
age. Restoration of this feature
was abandoned in favor of vital
improvements to the existing
floors and re-creation of the
interior as a retail plaza. Added
passages and stairways to the
upper level have enhanced
access to offices and restau-
rants and strengthened build-
ing safety. Likewise, exterior
restoration was aimed at fresh-
ening and removing repairs and
alterations that obscured the
building's historic character.

Wallace Roberts & Todd
Principal in charge:
Charles Tomlinson, AIA
Project Managers: Ryce
Stallings, Maarten Pesch
On-Island Architect:
Theresa S. Roberts, AIA
Landscape Architect:
Wallace Roberts & Todd
Structural Engineer:
Haynes Whaley Assoc., Inc.
Engineer: Todd W Carey &
General Contractor:
Shearman & Assoc.
Owner: The Lockhart
Companies, Etienne Bertrand,
Senior Vice President of Devel-

Note: Hurricane Marilyn left the pro-
ject intact, but precluded the planned
taking of new exterior photos in time
for this issue (Ed.).



Beyond Modernism

The New Urbanism:
Toward an Architecture
of Community
Peter Katz
McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994
245 pages, over 500 drawings and
ISBN 0-07-033889-2

Great cities have always been
at the heart of advanced
civilizations. Today, urban
sprawl, a form of scattered low-
density development, makes up
much of our cities, contributing
to the decay of the city and civi-
lization at large. Endless ave-
nues of "junk architecture" line
the routes from suburbia to the
inner city. Once people walked,
then the automobile was invent-
ed. Business ecologist Paul
Hawken describes modern soci-
ety as "the result of cheap cars
and gasoline." Recent public
concern with modern living
patterns has signaled the end
of suburbia, at least as we have
known it. With crime, discon-
tent, health hazards, inequality,
insecurity, stress, poverty, and
violence constantly rising, the
time has come to re-evaluate
our lives in terms of the envi-
ronment that we have created.
The Modernist creation of a
universal architecture of purity
of form failed to recognize the
value of history and tradition.
Innovation, uniqueness, and
sense of place were sacrificed
to the new gods-technology
and progress. Architecture
critic Howard Kunstler writes
in Geography of Nowhere, that
"when Americans, depressed
by the scary places where they
work and dwell, contemplate
some antidote, they often con-
jure up the image of the Ameri-
can small town with its aligned
generous houses with porches
facing the street shadowed by
beautiful elms, located around
the corner from the town center
with all its stores." This type of

small community, where people
can walk from their house to
work, to school, or to the store
is the core of a new movement
coined "the New Urbanism."
In The New Urbanism:
Toward an Architecture of
Community, Peter Katz takes
a serious look at our cities and
the problems facing them. He
then proposes a smart and
viable alternative to current
design practices. A combination
of the best traditional planning
and modern technology, the
New Urbanism emphasizes the
power of good design to en-
hance the quality of our lives.
It can assist in the design of
appropriate land use patterns,
growth limits, energy sources,
environmental balance, and
social integration. Its main
goals include the restoration of
community, social integration,
and the reconciliation of urban
and natural environments.
Katz looks for alternatives to
traditional suburban patterns.
While many people choose to
live in restored historical towns,
others may prefer off-grid
sustainable communities or
co-housing cooperatives. By en-
hancing the singular qualities of
the different settings, architects
can increase the variety and
uniqueness of the places where
people choose to live. City form
must be a joint product of the
expertise of the designer and
the needs and values of the
As America tries to reclaim
and restore its forgotten down-
towns and historical districts,
the principles proposed by New
Urbanism advocates have taken
the spotlight. Peter Calthorpe,
Andres Duany and Elizabeth
Plater-Zyberk, among many
other New Urbanists, propose
a revival and re-adaptation of
traditional town planning and
vernacular architecture. Les-
sons learned from Savannah,
Williamsburg, and Charleston

A combination
of the best
planning and
modern technology,
the New Urbanism
emphasizes the
power of good
design to enhance
the quality of
our lives.

can then be adapted into plans
for the development or urban
renewal of places as different
as Seaside, Florida, and Los
Angeles, California.
The New Urbanism des-
cribes and illustrates 24 pro-
jects. These case studies are
extensively documented with
drawings of new codes, pro-
posed plans, perspectives, com-
puter simulations, and pictures
of the site and the finished
product. The book also includes
a series of essays by leading
New Urbanists on the theory
and logic behind their princi-
ples and actual design projects
and proposals.
Although it may appear to
be a Romantic movement, the
New Urbanism has successfully
addressed such pressing prob-
lems as crime, pollution, deteri-
oration of urban life, the car,
and social segregation. The
New Urbanists redirect society
around pedestrian use of the
city. Broad sidewalks, for exam-
ple, that incorporate street-
scape features such as benches,

lighting, and trees, would pro-
mote walking and become part
of the public space that brings
a community together. In many
cases land use patterns and
zoning codes designed to facili-
tate vehicular traffic hinder the
design of successful sustainable
communities. These need to be
changed and adapted for each
locale, and the New Urbanism
is showing us that it can be
done with the support of the
community. Design profession-
als need to establish a dialogue
and listen to the voice of the
community, its contractors, and
its developers, even if it means
sacrificing some artistic genius.
This book is an encyclopedia
of the New Urbanism. If the
future of architecture is tied to
the New Urbanism, sustainabili-
ty, and building performance,
this book is a must-read for
architects and city and regional
planners and will also be help-
ful and interesting to environ-
mentalists, civic leaders, and
citizen groups. With the design
profession needing to focus on
the design of spaces and struc-
tures that are human and satis-
fying, that make the best use
of climate and other natural
conditions to save energy and
resources, that use durable
and safe materials, and that
reinforce local economies, this
book will serve as a great guide.
Miguel Marin

Miguel Marin is a graduate
student in architecture at
Florida A&M University
specializing in sustainable


Defining a City

The Sarasota School
John Howey
The MIT Press
Publication date: December 4,1995
$35 cloth
200 pp., 160 illus., 109 color
ISBN 0-262-08240-3

Through long years of in-
volvement with Florida's
architectural community, both
as a writer and educator, I've
often wondered why no one
has taken on the challenge of
writing about one of, if not the
most important chapters in the
history of American architec-
ture. Little enough has been
written about Florida architec-
ture in general, and much of
what has been written has
been less than scholarly in its
approach and less than thor-
ough in its research. One ex-
ception in recent years was
Robert Broward's excellent
study of the life and work of
Henry John Klutho.
Now, however, another work
has followed suit in that it is
both compelling and thorough.
Tampa architect John Howey,
a Fellow of the American Insti-
tute of Architects and longtime
Florida practitioner, has auth-
ored a history of what has
come to be called the Sarasota
School. To be sure, it is a de-
signation not as familiar to
students of architecture as
the Prairie School, but it is a
movement that is finally enjoy-
ing some of the acclaim and
attention that it deserves, and
Howey's book should help to
move that process along.
With a Foreword by architec-
ture critic Michael Sorkin and
an Introduction by University of
Virginia educator Richard Guy
Wilson, the book gets off to an
interesting start with everyone
agreeing that Howey's work is
much needed and long overdue.
That is not to say that every
architect whose name came to


be associated with the Sarasota
School enjoyed a career of com-
plete obscurity. On the contrary,
several men such as Paul
Rudolph and Victor Lundy have
managed to achieve national or
international status. Others like
Carl Abbott, Mark Hampton,
Gene Leedy, and Jack West have
achieved great regional stature.
But the movement that these
men and 17 others pioneered
is probably best described as
Florida's contribution to Mod-
ernism. Sorkin writes, "The
Sarasota architects built the
Usonian shrines exalted by
Wright, the modest houses, the
public schools, the churches
that formed the spine of post-
war America's best idea of
itself." He goes on to describe
this as "the ripest moment of
high American modernism"-a
movement whose impetus was
picked up and spread around
the country.
John Howey has certainly
been on the fringes of the
movement most of his profes-
sional life. If for no other
reason than the fact that he
counts among his close friends
a number of the main craftsmen
of the movement, he was able
to interview the architects in
depth, as well as family mem-
bers, friends, and owners of
Sarasota School buildings, all
of whom were generous with
photos and material. The result
is a book which is anything but
superficial. Beginning with a
discussion of the philosophical
aspects of the School, Howey
goes on to set the movement in
place and time, describing a
South Florida town that was
ripe and ready to embrace a
new architecture and launch the
careers of recent architecture
grads like Rudolph. As the book
traces the careers of the practi-
tioners who shaped the move-
ment, it weaves in the history
of the buildings that they pro-
duced-some well known, some
obscure. The obvious hallmarks

are discussed and illustrated,
such as Riverview and Sarasota
Senior High Schools and
Twitchell and Rudolph's Cocoon
House of 1948-50. But the book
also deals with less well-known
examples that represent an
equally fascinating potpourri of
open plans, thin frames, glass
walls, flat roofs, and floating
To bring closure to his explo-
ration of the Sarasota School,
Howey describes the city in
the sixties and delves into the
decline of the style. Citing
changes in the political, econo-
mic, and community agendas,
Howey also alludes to the way
Florida, along with the rest of
the country, embraced develop-
er-driven architecture in the
early sixties. The "new vernacu-
lar veneer approach" of the


Post-modernists was an imme-
diate success with promoters
and developers who needed
inexpensive coverings to sell
their bulk building products.
This revolt against Modernism
hastened the demise of the
Sarasota School.
The Sarasota School of
Architecture is an extremely
readable work which is liberally
laced with photographs and
drawings. In addition, it is an
excellent reference tool with
biographies of the leading prac-
titioners appended to the text.
Most important to this reader,
however, is the fact that the
book acknowledges one of the
most important steps Florida
ever took in making its mark
on the built environment.
Diane D. Greer

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In Defense of Regional Architecture, A New Approach
By Thomas S. Marvel, FAIA

Before architecture became
the subject of academic study
in professional schools, there
was a general acceptance that the
roots of its designs were founded
as a natural consequence of local
building customs. Much of this
architecture of place was
charged with stylistic fetishes
carried down through genera-
tions of master builders. With the
exception of master works for the
church, state, or wealthy patrons
(actually relatively few commis-
sions compared to the whole
built environment), urban settle-
ments were largely composed of
buildings that responded to the
constraints imposed by their
locations and by local traditions,
labor skills, materials, climate,
and community needs. These cri-
teria collectively shaped an archi-
tecture without architects which
we call today a regional style of
its time. One can travel from
province to province in European
countries and spot these distinct
signatures. They awe us with
their romantic consistency within
their social cultural boundaries.
With the onset of academic
programs in architecture in the
early 1800s in France and Ger-
many, the schools had to devise a
rigorous raison d'etre for teach-
ing design. Classicism, math-
ematical proportions, human
safety and health factors, the sci-
ence of structures, and historical
precedence were rationalized
into the skills that architects
would need to practice their art.
Schools encouraged creativity,
fresh approaches, grand projects
that would show off the talent of
the new profession. Much of this
progress is carried down to our
architecture programs today,
with the only differences being in
the style of the product. The local
master builder, the person most
responsible for constructing
those much admired regional
styles, has gradually been elimi-
nated by academically trained
persons who are encouraged to
be different, distinct, contradic-
tory to the norm.
We have treated our urban set-


elements with the same indiffer-
ence to conformity. Spaciously
and stylistically our built environ-
ment is a conglomeration of indi-
vidualistic attempts at being dif-
ferent. A Kentucky Fried Chicken
establishment is as "different"
from its competitors as the bank
designed by an architect is to oth-
ers. Our society demands that
everything have its own image,
and architecture is no exception.
We have lost the desire to design
a conforming architecture, where
a building is designed to feel
comfortable together with its
neighbors, where the sum of the
parts is more important than
each individual building. Try as
we might, I am not confident that
a group of architects could
design a delightful Italian hill
town today without creating a
terrible mess. We just "don't get
it" yet, in spite of our unanimous
agreement that the hill town is an
absolute architectural gem.
Part of the resistance to
designing architecture that con-
forms to its place has to do with
regional images. Those very
attributes that we admire in pre-
1800 buildings have become
overly romanticized and popular-
ized. Regional means "colonial"
in New England, "plantation" in
the south, "adobe" in the South-
west. A public hungry to be dif-
ferent will fix on these styles
much to the chagrin of archi-
tects, regardless of where they
are to be built. Styles can be built
anywhere. Adobe can be made of
plaster on rounded wire mesh.
Concrete massing is more likely
made of plywood on wood studs
with a stucco finish. The public
(and some architects) goes for
style but not authenticity, not the
real thing. Few architects want to
design "old-looking buildings,"
although there is a growing
segment of the profession that
will. Creative regionalism is not
about reconstructing a past that
is no longer valid.
Another impediment in the
argument against regionalism is
that architecture is seen as being
universal, and why not, since the

same construction materials are
available everywhere. Our archi-
tecture schools teach a homogen-
ized design process and product
from coast to coast, encouraging
the students' independence from
considerations of local building
criteria. The problem with the
"universal" argument is that we
have too much freedom of choice
(unfortunately a condition we
fostered). We no longer need to
respect climate, given all of the
high-tech mechanical systems
available today. With enough
energy consumption a reflective
glass building can be built in
Alaska as easily and cheaply as in
Miami or San Juan under the
aegis of using the most advanced
building systems to be different
or up-to-date. We have lost
respect for "place." When design-
ing a building, an architect must
make a deliberate choice of what
he or she wants that building to
be, to look like, and how to build

...one must
then ask the
question, does
an architect
design for a
place, or does
the place
dictate the

it. How much freedom of choice
does an architect really have?
Probably too much. The tenden-
cy of design is to become univer-
sal, totally undiscriminating to
the area in which it is found.
Some of the most admired archi-
tecture in the world was designed
and built with a limited palette of
materials and technology.
Given this dilemma of whether
a new regionalism in architecture
is viable or even desirable, I pro-
pose that we give new dignity to
a regional approach to design.
Certainly imitating romantic
styles, even within the local
context, is not what this new
regionalism is about. It is rather
a redefining of a natural style that
might evolve over a long span
of time, a style that would be
influenced by local and regional
The teaching of architectural
design should include respect for
place as well as the critical use of
materials and technology within
its context. Each professional
school should encourage re-
search in and a search for identi-
ty with its location. I believe this
is happening on a grassroots
level, in any case. There has been
phenomenal growth in the num-
ber of architecture schools in the
past decade, and as more come
on stream, each is going to have
to find its own identity. Many are
looking to their location to give
them individuality. Ultimately
they will shake themselves down
to a few universal and many
regional schools. This is in favor,
then, of helping to identify the
components of a genuine region-
al architectural expression.
Architects are being crunched
by competition from within as
well as from outside their
domain. One of the most obvious
paths for an architect to take
when there will be a narrowing
field of clients is to become the
master builder again: design and
build. A possible consequence of
this role is that there would be
less time invested in innovating in
design and more in the building
Continued on Page 28






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A Young Architect in Cuba
By Edward J. Seibert

t was 1957, before Castro and
his communist bureaucrats
ruined the Caribbean paradise
that was Cuba. I was then a brand
new and desperately eager young
architect when I was introduced
to Ricardo by his bookish and
pretty wife, with whom I had
gone to high school. Ricardo's
family was to build a hotel in
Varadero, and as a friend I was
invited to move to Cuba to
become the family architect. It
seemed both romantic and prac-
tical, for I had no work at home.
Ricardo and I flew to Havana
in a small airliner, filled with
happy people, garrulous with the
anticipation of good times ahead.
The radial engines throbbed, the
daiquiris flowed, and I found
myself in a party which spoke
mostly Spanish, a language I
could read but soon found I could
not speak.
After we landed in Havana, we
immediately headed for the yacht
club to meet Ricardo's father
over a poolside lunch. He looked
just like a photograph of a
Roman senator in my old art
history book, and forever after
I thought of that elegant old man
as "the Senator." Ricardo trans-
lated his father's requirements.
The Senator was definitely in
charge, obviously a man of pow-
er. I was to have a Cuban archi-
tect partner, Zenon. The Senator
gave a long and, even to Ricardo,
incomprehensible speech about
his vision of the hotel.
After the Senator left the table,
Ricardo and his brother Tony and
I went to work on a few bottles of
champagne. We charged them to
the Senator's still-open check
and looked over the girls around
the pool. Tony was about sixteen,
already a man, and one who
could accurately be called a
Greek god. He was on Cuba's
Olympic Rowing Team, and the
girls were looking at him more
than he at them. It developed that
Tony was having trouble showing
up in high school and would go
directly into the new hotel busi-
ness under the direction of his
brother. At dusk they dropped me


off at the Hotel Nacional, saying
they would be by at ten for dinner.
A little after ten the Senator
and Ricardo showed up and we
went to the Nacional's nightclub
to see the hottest act in all
Havana: classical music played
on a huge organ accompanied
by jets of differently colored
water squirting in time to the
music. Scantily clad showgirls
were arranged in draped niches
around the room. Thinking to
show my appreciation, I com-
mented to the Senator in careful-
ly constructed Spanish that I
found the girls quite beautiful.
"You can have one if you like,"
I thought I heard him say. I found
myself blushing, feeling socially
inept, trying to construct a sen-
tence to demur without seeming

I worked then,
seven days a
week, until I
As I look back,
this was the
first work of
my own, not
a style I had
been taught.

ungrateful, or far worse, unman-
ly. Ricardo came to my rescue,
saying that his father, finding I
didn't care for women right then,
would as soon gamble.
The senator played chemin de
fer while I played roulette, mind-
lessly plunking down my small
stash on red or my birthday num-
ber, twenty-seven. Twenty-seven
miraculously came up and I was
suddenly in possession of enough
pesos to be worth a thousand dol-
lars, which about doubled my net
worth. Later, the Senator said,
through Ricardo's translation,
that I wasn't much for women but
was certainly ok at gambling and
a convivial drinker. Since my
Spanish was so limited, I agreed
with anything that the Senator
said, usually without knowing
what it was. And he had gotten
the impression that I had the
right idea about things. We had a
few brandies and called it a night.
The next morning, fortified
with an extra dose of aspirin on
top of Alka Seltzer, I met Zenon at
his architectural office, along
with Ricardo. The office was pan-
eled in that cedar of which they
make cigar boxes and was de-
lightfully aromatic. It was like
being in a cigar box with win-
dows. There was a lone drafts-
man, Viejo, a skinny old veteran
whose fly was worn to the zipper
from leaning at his drawing
board. Zenon's dismal English
was vastly superior to my Span-
ish, and he showed me his work.
He was a kindly, quiet, anxious
man with a wife and child to sup-
port, obviously not a designer
star (as I then was sure I was),
who now had to deal with a
forced partnership.
I learned that Cuban architects
were well paid. Fees were set by a
union which got a percentage of
what we got. Architects built as
well as designed, as they do in
South America. In Cuba, as in the
U.S., many projects never got off
the ground. Zenon explained that
we would draw just enough to get
various permits and financing,
collect the fee, and see what
developed. If the hotel was to be

built we would then make the real
drawings so he could build it.
My days took on a pleasant
rhythm. Professional conferences
late in the mornings, long lunch-
es with the Senator during which,
in a halting, acquiescent and one-
sided conversation, he described
endlessly his visions of the hotel.
Then a siesta to prepare once
more for the nightlife of the gods.
The Tropicana, Havana's best
nightclub, was a great space
enclosed by elliptical vaults of
various heights, with glass infill-
ing the spaces between, making a
dramatic visual extension to the
tropical landscape outside. The
band played enthusiastically at
cha-cha music. Feather bedecked
girls descended flower-covered
ladders and danced on stages
that came up out of the floor. The
waiter put a bottle of rum on
the clean white tablecloth and
poured as needed. The bottle had
a one-way stopper, so the bar bill
was a function of the guest's con-
sumption, ascertained by your
waiter holding the bottle up to
the light. For variety you could
gamble in the fin de siecle house
that adjoined the main space.
Sometimes it would be just Ricar-
do and me, sometimes the Sena-
tor would be along, holding court
among the people who came to
the table to do business or ask
favors. He was a powerful man, a
member of society, quite rich.
Apparently, he did more business
at night than during office hours.
After some weeks it came to
me that we were having a won-
derful time and were talking
about the project a lot but not
accomplishing anything. I had
acquired several pounds of
weight gain and bags under my
eyes. I had ceased to be an archi-
tect and had become a yes man,
what my father called "a little
friend of the rich." Ricardo had
gone to Miami on an urgent
errand-to buy a speedboat on
the hotel account-and I decided
it was now or never to become a
real architect.
I worked then, seven days a
Continued on Page 28

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process. Perhaps having to be
more accountable for the execu-
tion of the project will make the
architect more conscious of the
materials, climate, labor, and con-
struction traditions of a region. In
general, the constructors of build-
ings tend to be more conservative
than the designers in their vision
of the construction industry and
its built products. If, in fact, archi-
tects do take the leap into the con-
struction field, one must then ask
the question, does an architect
design for a place or does the
place dictate the architecture?
Under the scenario that the archi-
tect becomes the master builder
again, one wonders how the
answer to that question might
change over several generations.
While one can debate about the
changing profession of architec-
ture, its schools and its practice,
today many unplanned forces are
actually shaping the future. Their
effects on the regionalization of
design are inevitable. Given time,
and I am thinking in the dimen-

Edward Seibert Continued from Page 27

week, until I dropped. It felt good.
I wasn't a parasite anymore. As I
look back, this was the first work
of my own, not a style I had been
The rooms staggered back and
rose away from the sea for view.
Parking was beneath the elevated
rear units. Materials were typical-
ly Cuban: a reinforced concrete
structure, white painted brick, tile
floors, terra cotta grillage, louver
windows. The flat roofs were tiled,
as was the custom, and became
private decks shaded with trellises
and potted trees. The interiors
were a mix of Cuban antiques and
modern, with a collection of mod-
ern paintings. It was hotel for the
very rich. Under the first floor
deck, on the ground floor, were
the casino, bar, and restaurant
that looked out to the sea and
back into the sides of the pool,
which had windows so gamblers
could watch the swimmers.
The design was a disaster. The
Senator was outraged. He rambled
on for what seemed like hours,
wreathed in cigar smoke, elabo-
rating endlessly on his revulsion
and distaste. The Senator hated
the design, because to him it
looked-not modern and Ameri-
can-but Cuban! He had let me
come down as his son's wife's
friend to make an American build-
ing! How could I, after all the
hours of talk, have missed his

feelings so badly? He was, of
course, quite correct, for instead
of listening to his monologues, I
had shown my love of Cuba in a
I was not fired. I went back to
the board and started over. I drew
a twelve-story concrete box on
piloti with an Oscar Niemeyer
ground pattern of curves contain-
ing the pool and casino. It was a
solution in style, a neat and easy
trick. The Senator loved it, as did
Zenon, for it was as recognizably
American Modern as the new
Caribe Hilton. I knew Ricardo
sensed my disappointment, but
we never spoke of it.
It has been nearly forty years,
and the lesson I learned with the
Senator remains. I am still social-
izing away the days and nights
here and there around the world
with those clients I find particular-
ly likeable. But now I listen much
more carefully when they talk
about their ideas for their pro-
Edward J. "Tim" Seibert, AIA,
recipient of ALA Florida's 1995
Award for Honor in Design,
whose eponymous firm was
founded in Sarasota in 1955,
continues to augment his color-
ful legacy amidst its new prin-
cipals, Sam Holladay, AIA, Nan
Plessas, AIA, and Robert Rokop,
ALA, and the community at


sions of a century or two, the
architects of the future will have a
working knowledge of the history
and antecedents of the architec-
ture in their region, will have to
design and build for a climate and
a slowly growing energy shortage,
and will build upon the economics
and skills of the local construction
industry and available materials.
They will accept the challenge to
create a genuinely regional archi-
tecture of the future and the chal-
lenge rather than imitate someone
else's regional architecture of the
past with its nostalgic pretense.
Meanwhile, perhaps, we could all
use a little more humility in our

Tom Marvel, FAIA, practices
with Marvel Flores Cobian y
Asociados in Santurce, Puerto
Rico. He is the author ofAntonin
Nechodoma, Architect, 1877-
1928, The Prairie School in the
Caribbean (1994) and currently
is serving as ALA Regional
Director from Florida and the

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conditioning commercial, institutional, process and residential
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applications, natural gas-fired desiccant units can beat Florida's
high humidity with a significant reduction in the tonnage
that would be required with a conventional system, and can
achieve results conventional systems can't. And many
gas utilities offer lower summer peak cooling rates.
> Cleaner Environment:
Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel--burning
cleaner and more efficiently than coal and oil
used to generate electricity.
from a
Cooling .
Syste r
Natural gas isn't subject to fluctuations, brown-outs
or power outages, important forhealthcare,
lispitality and other facilities requiring reliability.
Gas cooling units are designed and tested for
extreme weather, and built to last.
> Residential, Storefront, Institutional and Process:
Natural gas cooling systems can be sized for
any project. For more information on gas
engine-driven, absorption, or desiccant units,
call your local gas company.


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So call us at 1-800-LIFETILE (543-3845) for more
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The Concrete Roof Tile for Beauty, Protection and Longevity


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