Miami's Bacardi Buildings May Be Landmarked
By Krista Walton | Online Only | Apr. 17, 2009
Though relatively new, two Miami buildings—headquarters for Bacardi USA—may be on the path to landmark status.
The Bacardi Company, which has occupied the site since 1963, will soon move to nearby Coral Gables, Fla. Though the Bacardi buildings are not yet 50 years old (the usual age for buildings considered for historic designation), local preservationists say the buildings merit designation.
"The goal is to see the Bacardi buildings remain in place," says Ellen Uguccioni, historic preservation officer for the City of Miami. "We and much of the community want them to remain as they are today." Historic designation would protect them from demolition or major exterior alterations.
One building, an eight-story tower with a blue-and-white Spanish mural, has been home to Bacardi since it was built in 1963. Originally from Cuba, the Bacardi family, like many others, fled the country after Fidel Castro's revolution in the late 1950s, settling in Miami. The second building, constructed in 1973, is a modern, square structure with a multicolored, glass mural facade suspended 47 feet from the ground. Both buildings are heralded as examples of midcentury architecture with a Latin twist.
"These buildings catch your eye whether you're a trained designer or just a person on the street," Uguccioni says. Because of their connection to the Bacardi family, she says, "they also have a unique, wonderful connection to the Cuban-exile community. There's an amazing combination of architectural distinction and cultural importance."
At a preliminary hearing on Apr. 7, the Bacardi Corporation asked for more time to review the material and investigate all the implications of a designation. The next hearing is scheduled for May 5 where, barring another deferral, the historic board will decide if the buildings merit continued consideration for historic designation. If so, the Historic Preservation Office produce a full designation report and present it to the board at a second hearing, which could occur as soon as June 2.
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