Central Florida Architecture Guide in Development

Scheduled for release at the end of 2016, check back here from time to time for more info on this full color book currently being compiled.

AIA Convention Guidebook 2017 Mockup sample page

The Orlando Foundation for Architecture is working hard on completing –An Architectural Guide to Central Florida– the first available guide to offer visitors and natives alike an overview of outstanding buildings spanning nearly a century and a half of growth in Central Florida. With dramatic color photography, the guidebook introduces the major cities from Daytona to Lake Wales, and architects who have shaped the communities, including Murry S. King, James Gamble Rogers II, Nils M. Schweizer and Gene Leedy, with essays by ten knowledgeable experts. It showcases historic buildings from the early twentieth century, mid-century modern, to the present, as well as the only campus designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and a new spectacular Polytechnic University by Santiago Calatrava. A bevy of buildings at Walt Disney World and Celebration Florida by Leading National and International architects Robert Stern, Arata Isozaki, Phillip Johnson, Aldo Rossi, Michael Graves, Venturi Scott Brown, Graham Gund, Welton Becket, Walt Disney Imagineering and Architectonica round out the collection.

Nearly three hundred featured buildings in the six county region will be included, with a comprehensive index organizing buildings by architect and building types. Additional short biographs in the Appendix will provide information on notable local architects who’s buildings are included in the catalogue. The book includes addresses and maps, to aid self-guided tours exploring the legacy of Orlando area’s architectural masterpieces. It is destined to become a treasured part of one’s library.  The full color guidebook is scheduled to be available around the holidays this year, as well as, through the convention registration process and at the Host Chapter Booth during the convention in 2017.

Pre-sales are expected to begin in December.  Check back on this web page for additional details in December or contact Allison at AIA Orlando, her email: Allison@aiaorlando.com, and ask her to add your name to the reserve list.


Posted in Architects & Design Firms, History, LEED / Green Construction, Urban Design | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quote: Mercedes Miras Varelas

castille-miras images“For me, architecture is not for architects. It’s for the people. In truth, architecture is necessary as long as people need it.”  Mercedes Miras Varelas

This quote echoes many of my sentiments about disappointment with elitist architects and educators. Last week a colleague was explaining that architects seem to hate every building they did not personally design. And that is a travesty to our profession as architects.

Mercedes Miras Varelas (1969-) studied architecture at Seville School of Architecture (ETSAS) completing her diploma in 1997. She has been in private practice in Almeria, Spain since 1998. Castillo opened his own practice in 2000, and Mercedes joined a few years later. Her built work involves public buildings like a Center for Old Age People and a residence for the mentally disabled. She has developed several restoration projects like the Conversion of a XVIII century building into the Andalucía Photography Museum and the Restoration of a Tower in Huercal-Overa.  Lately she has been working for the Andalucía Regional Government as a consultant and public participation manager for a number of projects involving the refurbishment of social housing and urban spaces in socially troubled areas.

There is a new wind among younger practitioners. They explain it well on their site:

Our work aims to show that our society needs a new architecture: one that has the ability to solve problems, not create them, one that provides practical solutions that are economically feasible, but also an architecture that transcends the merely utilitarian. When we think about architecture, there are some important concepts we reflect on: recycling, reusing the obsolete and the reclaiming degraded structures, spaces and landscapes. We like to reuse the existing and take it further: to see what others do not see, reclaiming the obsolescent.

We are part of a new architectural sensibility that has these strategies as starting point, rejecting the artistification of architecture as well as its transmutation into a product for mass consumption.


Here is a link to their firm website in Spanish and English, where you can view some of their work:

Also search for them on ArchDaily and Architizer.

You can read more of these quotes in the book : ‘the ARCHIITECT says’, compiled and edited by Laura S. Dushkes, published by the Princeton Architectural Press. She is the architectural librarian at the firm NBBJ in Seattle.


Posted in Editorials | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Blue Origin Rocket Manufacturing Facility Breaks Ground


Jeff Bezos, Blue Origin founder, and CEO of Amazon, said the $205 million facility will be completed by December 2017. The 750,000 Square foot rocket factory will accomodate manufacturing, processing, integration and testing. All of the vehicle will be manufactured here except for the engines. They are conducting a site selection process to construct a separate engine manufacturing facility.

Blue Origin plans to launch manned orbital vehicles from Florida’s Space Coast within the next 10 years.

You can read the complete article, with additional photos, by Matthew Richardson of the Orlando Business Journal at this link:


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Gainesville Medical Education Building Wins AIA Orlando Award

2016-Awards-Harrell Med Ed Bldg UF

Heery Architects received an Award of Honor from the AIA Orlando chapter this year for their new Harrell Medical Education Building at UF in Gainesville.

The new 4 story building has a visually engaging sculptural composition of stacked shapes, that helps it stand out on campus.

You can read more about the project, and view more images on the chapter Website at this link:

Posted in Healthcare, Schools & Universities | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

OFA fundraiser 360 Challenge

city hall from PAC

In less than a year the American Institiute of Architects National Convention is coming to Orlando!

In order to showcase our impressive local architecture and city, and to garner individual support of educational tours, programs, and activities by AIA Orlando’s Local Host Committee, the Orlando Foundation for Architecture has launched the 365 Challenge! We hope to raise $5000 dollars to fund this effort. We have raised over 10% but still have far to go. Any amount is appreciated.

Help us support the work of the Orlando Foundation for Architecture by making a donation. The process is fast, easy, and secure. You can donate on my fundraising page and help me reach my goal. And/Or share this page on Facebook and Twitter! Or, even better, send an e-mail to friends you think might be interested in contributing and include a link to my page! We would love more people set up a campaign page and join us, too.

“We are celebrating Orlando architecture, Orlando architects, and the region’s evolving uban design, including sustainable living.”

As a major contributor to our local Architecture Blog, and Senior Editor of the [convention] “Guide to Central Florida Architecture” I am passionate about our region. Help us spread the word.

Here is the link to my fundraising page:


Posted in Charities & Fundraising Events, Events, Seminars & Tours, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Quote: Peter Zumthor

Peter-Zumthor1I’ve said goodbye to the overworked notion that architecture can save the world.

This quote by Peter Zumthor (1943-), echos the wisdom of his years of experience. I may have misunderstood, but in architectural school, I am sure they tried to convince us we could change the world with our designs if they were good enough. While we can evoke some great emotion with a breathtaking space, and while we can plan a space to make someone’s work easier due to proper configuration of the facilities;  halting wars, eliminating bigotry and more, are not outcomes of a well designed building.

You can read more about Peter Zumthor on Wikipedia at this link:

You can read more of these quotes in the book : ‘the ARCHIITECT says’, compiled and edited by Laura S. Dushkes, published by the Princeton Architectural Press. She is the architectural librarian at the firm NBBJ in Seattle.

Posted in Design Theory, Editorials | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Local CSI Chapter Turns 50

CSI 50th Anniversary Invite image sml

Our local Greater Orlando Chapter of the Construction Specifications organized in 1966. The national CSI organization grew fast in its early years, and within 15 years had inspired local architects to establish a chapter. Like the local AIA chapter, they were one of the strongest and largest in the nation. Over the years, their influence has grown, receded and grown, and they are still working hard to continue the mission, which is the heart of the CSI Institute. Below is a quote right from the CSINET website:

“CSI was founded in March 1948 by the specification writers of government agencies who came together to improve the quality of construction specifications. The Institute’s efforts were essential in improving construction specification quality so that it could meet the demands of the post-war construction boom. Development of specifications best practices, promulgating standards/formats, professional education, and certification were cornerstones of the Institute.

The Institute grew quickly to include specification writers in the private sector, design professionals concerned about communicating their vision in construction documents, constructors interested in delivering high-quality facilities, and material suppliers with unique solutions to construction challenges. These construction professionals continue to work together today as CSI members to effectively communicate the designers’ vision, the material producers’ solutions, and the constructors’ techniques to create outstanding facilities that meet facility owners’ objectives.”

I was honored to serve as chapter president during the 2008 year when we hosted the Southeast Region Annual Convention in Orlando at the Grand Bohemian Hotel downtown. And despite the hovering Hurricane Fay stalled off our shoreline for all 3 days, we had a great event.

On June the 3rd they will celebrate this great milestone in the life of their chapter at the Orange County History Center at 6 PM. At the link below you can RSVP to join us in toasting the success of the GO CSI Chapter, with most of their past presidents in attendance.


Our sincere congratulations on 50 years!!

And below is a link to the GO CSI chapter website for more information about them and the CSI institute.



Posted in Events | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A New Profile at the End of the St. Pete Pier


The inverted pyramid which has been the signature icon of St. Petersburg Florida’s waterfront, is being replaced. The new structure terminating the redeveloped pier echoes the program of the former, with dining and observation areas. But enclosed pool areas, improved fishing posts, and an event lawn for concerts and shows will expand the activities staged in the scenic bay.

The St. Pete City Council has increased their appropriations to fund the project, after learning the project costs had escalated. Designed by the New York–based Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers and Ken Smith Landscape Architect with the Tampa, Fla.–based ASD, the project’s budget was originally approved by the council in July 2015, covering costs including the demolition of the current pier, pre-construction, and design details. This vote of confidence by the council will help provide the city with the pier design the citizens preferred in a public vote last year.

You can read the complete article Selin Ashaboglu with additional images in ARCHITECT magazine at this link:

Check out Rogers Partners Website here:

Ken Smith’s firm here:

And Tampa-based ASD at this link:

Posted in Recreation & Entertainment | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Lake Nona Adds More Sports Office Space

lake-nona-sports-office-rendering-1_750xx3840-2160-0-0 place alliance

Place Alliance, a multi-discipline design firm, has designed a new 50,000-square-foot, two-story multitenant office building in its 300-acre Sports & Performance District, which so far has the $70 million USTA National Campus under construction and plans for a $20 million training facility for Orlando City Soccer Club. Punctuated with rhythmic fenestration, the building’s dramatic profile will energize the streetscape of this growing sports district along the south edge of Lake Nona.

You can read the complete story by Anjali Fluker in the Orlando Business Journal at this link:

Here is a link to Place Alliance’s Website to check out more of their work:

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

New Apartments Rise beside Maitland Sunrail Station


As ridership of commuter rail systems expands, development near commuter stations occurs. People enjoy the convenience of living and shopping near commuter rail stations in every locale. Central Florida’s SunRail is no exception. Charlan Brock has designed this new Apartment complex facing Orlando Avenue/17-92, just south of the Maitland Boulevard overpass. Projecting bays on corners, and cantilevered apartment balconies, provide interest to the development, and screen the 5 level parking structure in the center of the project. The SunRail Maitland Station is just behind the property.

You can read the entire article by Anjali Fluker in the Orlando Business Journal at this link:

And here is a link to the Charlan Brock Website:

Posted in Residential & Multi-Family | Tagged , | 1 Comment