Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coral Gables City Hall

As I mentioned, Coral Gables was a planned community at the latter end of the city beautiful movement. The last piece of George Merrick's master plan to be built in 1927 was the city hall, which is the end piece of the miracle mile.
Merrick again brought in Phineas Paist to design the building which sits on an awkward site. The 'front' of the building, seen above, faces the miracle mile as well as the major road through Coral Gables. However, due to that heavy traffic, the entrance was placed at the rear where parking was to be found. See it on googlemaps HERE.
The centerpiece of the building is the square bell tower which includes a clock as well as an actual bell! The building was (and mostly is) visible throughout the entire neighborhood due to its height with its only other competitor at the time it was built being the much taller Biltmore hotel.The seal of the city sits proudly on the front facade.As with any Beaux Arts designed building, function comes first with a very rational plan. Three sides of the building have entrances with the 'front' being the rounded loggia seen at the top of the post. The actual front door is located at the rear of the building, seen below, and is centered on a charming little forecourt.Bordering the court and seperating it from the street is a wood and terracotta loggia which seems to be popular with the smokers of the building!This beautiful balcony above the front entry would just be perfect for mayoral speeches!
The side entry on the quiet side of the building is the employee entrance but is no less grand. I love the green window frames and canvas canopy.The entry which faces the busier street is actually the exit of the building (don't even TRY to walk in that way as I found out!). The building is built of a local stone, the same as Vizcaya, which has imprints of shells and marine life -maybe a type of travertine? These lamp posts had been stuccod over which is now wearing in a charming way.The loggia was probably my favorite part of the building. Wood ceiling beams and decorative brackets sit atop stone columns with marble corinthian capitals.
I love the brick screen and built-in bench.Terra cotta tiles top the loggia as well as the entire building, fitting in with the Mediterranean style.
Who else but Coral Gables could boast such an elegant city hall!


quintessence said...

What a beautiful building!! Love all the same details as you - the loggia (love the contrast of the decorative corinthian columns with the more rustic wood roof), the stone and especially the perky green window frames!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I like the contrast as well! It's just a shame the loggia faces such a busy street, otherwise it would be a great place to spend time.
I love that '30s green' as I refer to it all the time -you see it on so many buildings from that era.

KyleM2315 said...

beautiful! so, so elegant.

i myself am trying to set up a blog

The Devoted Classicist said...

The coquina stone is a type of coral in the limestone family. It is relatively soft when quarried, but hardens as it dries out over several years (but still never hard like most other stones). Fabulous, isn't it?

Reggie Darling said...

Wonderful post, and a most excellent building. It is always a delight to see examples of civic buildings built when cities still took pride in erecting ones of integrity and beauty, and where the sole guiding principal was not cost, which it is unfortunately the case in too many places in this country today. Imagine presenting the plans and cost estimates for this in 2011. It wouldn't even make it past the clerk in the receiving office.

Janet said...

Wait, why do I love in Washington?

The Down East Dilettante said...

What Reggie said! I can tell I'm going to be loving these Florida posts---and great pictures.

Paist obviously based his design in part on the Merchant's Exchange in Philadelphia, built in the early 19th century. Interesting to see how he used the inspiration, gave it a Latin beat and built it from Coral stone. Here's a link to Merchant's exchange (and I believe you'll enjoy seeing the little Choragic monument on top):

Can't wait for your next installment

Terry said...

The loggia is so beautiful, almost a ruin. But it seems so forlorn even abandoned. Thanks so much for these.

teaorwine said...

I grew up in the Gables. Did you get a chance to see the Venetian Pool, just down from the Biltmore? Just lovely.

theduchessofH said...

I love Coral Gables, and visit at least once a year. Coquina has stood the test of time for over 400 years.
Today's version 'coral stone' is an inexpensive limestone substitute.

Renée Finberg said...

i knew you go nutty over the architecture here.

too bad you didn't get to palm beach, worth ave, and lunch at 'taboo.'
you and heather might have run into 'rod'{as in 'maggie' fame fame}
he usually shows up around 1pm for lunch.