Bubil: Letting the people choose


Architecture, the artform that everyone consumes in the course of daily living, is getting increased attention because of the marketing efforts of the American Institute of Architects’ Florida chapter.


Last year, it staged a highly successful online poll called the People’s Choice awards. In 2012, AIA conducted the online poll “100 Years, 100 Places,” to determine the state’s best, or at least its most popular, building since the Florida chapter was founded in 1912. More than 2 million votes were cast.

Miami Beach’s 1954 modernist icon, the Fountainebleau Hotel, finished No. 1 in that vote. Of course, it did benefit from having a fresh supply of voters walk through its lobby every day.

The People’s Choice awards are different in that only architect-designed, nonresidential buildings built in Florida in the past five years are eligible. AIA-Florida is promoting the voting with the Florida Foundation for Architecture. Each chapter nominates two buildings; AIA-Florida design award winners also are on the list.

Sarasota County’s nominees, of the 48 buildings statewide, are the Palm Avenue Parking Garage, by Jonathan Parks Architects (now Solstice Architects); the Sarasota Yacht Club, by DSDG; the Sarasota County Beach Pavilions, a group of structures by Sweet Sparkman Architects; and the Gulf Gate Public Library, by Harvard Jolly Architects. Three of those projects were paid for by taxpayers.

About 14,000 votes were cast as of a few days ago, with the Sarasota County Beach Pavilions in the top 10. As a group, these similar structures also received an Award of Excellence from AIA-Florida in 2014.

“We did it last year,” said Fort Myers architect Joyce Owens, vice-president of AIA-Florida, and a trustee of the Florida Foundation for Architecture, “and we had great support. It brings an awareness of architecture to the public. It is a wonderful vehicle for engaging the public, and it is great for the architects.”

“We are proud of these local buildings, which are especially important to our community’s way of life,” said Lisa Hess, AIA, president of the Gulf Coast chapter of AIA-Florida. “Last year, more than 800,000 votes were cast for Florida buildings, and we look forward to hearing from even more Floridians and visitors about public buildings they love.”

“Florida’s architects are the backbone of development and growth across the state, and continue to contribute greatly to Florida’s thriving economic engine,” said Candy Munz of AIA-Florida. “The Florida People’s Choice contest ... allows Floridians to vote on their favorite community buildings and to take time to notice the architecture that contributes to the unique charm, character and functionality of our cities and towns.”

Voting will remain open until midnight July 30 at floridapeopleschoice.com; the winner will be announced during the Aug. 1 awards ceremony at the AIA-Florida convention in Boca Raton.

Letters from our readers

Dear Harold: I found your column How Much is Too Much?’ (June 28) to be an important comment on the direction taken in architecture, the avant garde. The architectural magazines have become simply catalogs of current work, with no criticism. When I started in architecture, there was ‘Architectural Forum,’ which had an editor who struck a certain amount of terror into the hearts of the ‘starchitects’ of the time, as did ‘Architectural Record.’

“Now the house organ of the AIA is just another catalog of buildings, without criticism. I believe the editors of AIA are too busy being politically correct to be able to think about the design of buildings.

“I hope that (Arquitectonica principal) Bernardo Fort-Brescia and others will continue this critical conversation about the direction of architecture, and that you will write more about it. Perhaps the Herald-Tribune could sponsor such a conversation.”

Tim Seibert, FAIA, Boca Grande

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: July 11, 2015
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