That view was echoed in a letter this month to the city preservation board by developer Armando Codina, who is leading a group trying, in the wake of the Genting purchase, to come up with an urban plan for the area to discourage development that would overwhelm the Arsht Center.
Heisenbottle and Rodriguez, like other Genting supporters, also suggested the designation effort is no more than a disguised campaign to stop casinos or development on the site.
But while designation might make redevelopment of the site more complicated, it would not prevent it from adding to or erecting a tower over the Herald building, or putting a casino or massive new buildings on the site, which also includes acres of parking lots. Genting also owns the adjacent Omni mall and other land in the area.
Countless historic buildings have been saved through sometimes dramatic adaptations or additions, preservationists note. Last week, in fact, the new owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Art Deco building, which the newspaper recently vacated, unveiled plans to convert it into a luxury hotel and casino.
“Any architect worth his salt would be able to figure out something creative for The Herald building, especially Arquitectonica,’’ said Miami historian Arva Moore Parks, referring to the famed Miami firm hired by Genting to design its resort.
The resistance to recognizing The Herald building’s architectural value, Parks said, is no different from initial popular resistance to saving Victorian houses and Miami Beach’s Art Deco buildings, all once widely regarded as eyesores.
“With modern architecture and modern preservation it is particularly difficult to make the case, because you’re basically on the cusp of history,’’ said Sandra Suarez, who teaches modern-architecture preservation at Florida International University and is assisting the effort to designate The Herald building.
“I do think it is actually quite beautiful. It is one of the big monuments of the first 100 years of the city.’’
Preservationists are not the only ones who have come to a newfound appreciation of it. The building is featured in three recent architectural guides to the city, two of them published under the American Institute of Architects’ imprint, as well as in the book that first drew recognition to Miami Modern design, by planner and writer Randall Robinson.
That book, MiMo, has a preface by Arquitectonica co-principal Laurinda Spear that concludes, “MiMo has the potential to become as big a draw for Miami as Deco is, if we manage to save it.’’
One guide, Miami Architecture, co-authored by Robinson, Miami architect Allan Shulman and historian James Donnelly, calls The Herald building “an iconic presence.’’ Like the other books, it highlights the building’s adaptation, by a well-known Chicago architect of the period, Sigurd Naess, of Modernist design to Miami’s subtropical climate through the use of color, including yellow mosaic tile on the spandrels below its rows of windows, as well as shading elements like metallic screens over the windows.
The books and the heritage trust’s extensive application also extol grand, often-overlooked architectural gestures on the office building, including the 16 granite-covered pylons that hold up the soaring, futuristic canopy over the main entrance, the 30-foot high glass-and-metal lobby wall, and the tall escalators that lead to a dramatic, double-height second floor with Mad Men-era panache and sweeping bay views.