Design-wise, said University of Miami architecture professor Jean-Francois LeJeune, he finds the building to be a “big box’’ in spite of some indisputably good elements, including the futuristic, soaring porte-cochere entryway and the metallic screens over the windows that are typical of MiMo.
But even he concedes judgment of the building would be favorable on the Beach, where he sits on the planning board.
“If it were the Beach, it would be a different case,’’ he said.
Still, most local preservation groups have rallied to DHT’s side, including Coral Gables’s historic preservation board, widely regarded as a conservative panel concerned with traditional architecture. So have architecture and preservation professors at the University of Florida and Florida International, and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, whose vice president, West Palm Beach architect Rick Gonzalez, will testify in favor of designation on Monday.
“There are people flying in from all over the state to talk about this. This is getting people’s attention. We’re at a crossroads here, and we have to start deciding whether we reuse our buildings or do we throw them away,’’ said Gonzalez, the trust’s incoming president, comparing the Herald’s potential for reuse to the historic church at the center of the City Place redevelopment in West Palm Beach.
“I remember the arguments — oh, it’s an elephant,” he said of the old church. “Today it anchors a half-billion dollar urban renewal project, one of the most successful in the country. Look at the Fontainebleau. They did a two-billion dollar project next to it. So why can’t the Miami Herald building be the anchor of an entertainment resort, casinos or no casinos?’’