Architecture's for all, online poll attempts to show


Architects communicate ideas among themselves through trade journals and conferences, but sometimes don’t get the word out to the public. Bold new projects often go up with little notice of who designed it or scant public knowledge that it even exists. But the Florida Chapter of the American Institute of Architects is working to improve its public image. Two years ago, it presented “100 Years, 100 Places,” an online vote to determine Florida’s top buildings of the past century.


The 1953 Fontainebleau Hotel, by Morris Lapidus, was chosen as the best building, and Paul Rudolph’s 1953 Walker Guest House, on Sanibel Island, the best house. Now the AIA is focusing on the “leading edge” — buildings completed in the past five years — of architecture with another online voting competition, the People’s Choice.

aianewerBy going online to, the public can vote for its favorite of 58 buildings around the state that have been nominated by the Florida AIA and its local chapters. “The goal is for the public to have input on buildings that impact daily lives,” said John Bryant, of Sweet Sparkman Architects in Sarasota, 2014 president of the Gulf Coast chapter of the AIA.

The People’s Choice voting is “only for projects that are open to the public,” he said. No houses.

Around the state, notable projects include two progressive Walgreen’s stores in the Miami area, the USF Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation in Tampa, Perez Art Museum Miami by Swiss superstar architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, and the Exploration Tower at Cape Canaveral.

“There is a diverse range of work” in the competition, said Bryant. “I was surprised to see projects that are excellent works of architecture in Florida that I hadn’t known about.

“There are projects here that should have been nominated, but at the same time, looking at the whole list, it is a great collection of work.”

Bryant said the online vote will enhance the public’s perception of architecture.

“With the focus on public buildings, it brings an awareness to the role of architecture within public space — the symbolic value of architecture, the civic value of architecture,” he said.

“How we choose to put our resources into buildings really has an impact on our daily lives. It is important to make those buildings as meaningful and special as we can.”

The public can vote for their favorite buildings online until midnight July 18.

Buildings will be listed by the structure’s name and location. The results of the voting will be announced July 19 at AIA Florida’s Annual Convention in Miami.


Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: October 2, 2014
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