2100 Biscayne Blvd. Enrique Guttierrez architect (tower); Ignacio Carrera-Justiz, architect (“Jewel Box”). National Register of Historic Places, 2018
Editor’s note: While Harold Bubil takes some time off, we’ll reprise some of his popular columns. This column originally ran on Jan. 26, 2019.
The structures in the Bacardi Buildings Complex in Miami’s Edgewater section, north of downtown, are the stuff of Florida post cards.
Comprised of a seven-story tower and a two-story annex that is elevated on a pedestal, the two buildings are as iconic of Miami’s subtropical design vibe as any in the city.
The tower was designed by Cuban architect Enrique Guttierez for Bacardi Imports, the renowned rum company.
Ten years later, the building known as the “Jewel Box” was built on the tower’s west plaza, above an underground parking garage, designed by Ignacio Carrera-Justiz of Coral Gables.
Proving that a building does not have to be 50 years old to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Jewel Box made it last year at the age of 48.
It didn’t hurt that the tower was 55 years old, but the high “delight” factor made it a shoo-in for the NR once it was nominated.
The buildings are rather simple from a geometric point of view. But they shimmer in the bright Miami sunlight thanks to the exterior artwork.
Raised on piloti, the tower has south and north facades that are clad in “azulejo” tiles. Its 28,000 tiles were fired in Brazil and put together to form a mural depicting giant leaves by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand.
The Jewel Box, raised off the ground on a pedestal, is clad in hammered stained-glass tapestries made in Chartres, France. The pattern, based on work by German abstract artist Johannes Dietz, is said to represent how sugar cane is made into rum. The building now contains artists’ studios.
The complex is now occupied by the National YoungArts Foundation, a multidisciplinary cultural center, as the Bacardi Corp. has moved to Coral Gables.
“Florida Buildings I Love” is Harold Bubil’s homage to the Sunshine State’s built environment.