The vast structure — like all traditional newspaper buildings, a marriage of offices and printing plant — was widely celebrated on its 1963 dedication as the largest and most advanced commercial structure in Florida. A special Herald edition described the new building as “a composite of the beautiful and the functional.’’
“The materials and craftsmanship are exceptional. The porte cochere is absolutely a work of art,’’ Robinson said, referring to the entranceway.
But even its fans acknowledge the bulding’s merits are not an easy sell to casual observers.
“The Bacardi building has always captured people’s imagination. Like the Freedom Tower, it’s a svelte building,’’ said prominent Miami architect Raul Rodriguez, whose projects have ranged from Modernist college buildings to preservation of Mediterranean treasures like the Freedom Tower. “This one is not going to win a popularity contest. It houses an institution that was not always popular. The Herald was a powerhouse. The building was like a citadel few people penetrated. But it is a quality building for its era, not a trash building at all.’’
Rodriguez, who is not involved in the designation effort, says the building’s concrete shell, a regular structural grid, could easily be converted to other uses.
“I don’t think there is a reason to demolish the building other than to say they want to put something else there,’’ he said. “But we cannot go about just tearing down buildings, it’s not even green to do that. The overwhelming argument to designate the building is this — that the building has done nothing to deserve being knocked down.’’