People measure history of a place with the amount of artifacts it has. Recently I have been following the heart breaking news on the demolition of The Prentice in Chicago, and followed by the controversy of demolishing the folk museum in NYC I could not help but to reflect and think of similar examples in history and around the globe. I could not think of any project that I know that was a replacement to a landmark and was better than it’s previous.
I am not talking here about little cookie cutter houses or strip malls around suburbs. (I would actually prefer if they rip them off out of the ground and through them to the dogs!) However, am talking about projects that enhance the public realm, and encourage you to talk about them and become an essential memoire of the city’s history.
Here in Central Florida, the glass bank building had been at the center of a big discussion between demolishing a building that historically hosted stars Like Frank Senatra and Bob Dylan in lavish parties celebrating each time a missile went up with the famous space coast astronauts. It was big part of people’s memories. It had a restaurant on the rooftop of the building with view to the Banana River. Unfortunately, the building lacked maintenance and with years of continuous weathering and hurricanes demolishing became a reality the owners had to face. To add more darkness to that, sadly, its owner committed suicide, at his penthouse in the building itself, after continuous failure to change the decision. He called it home since the eighties of last century.
Demolishing has more disadvantages than benefits. First, it is a valuable piece of the history of Cocoa Beach city. A city that is relatively new and thrives because of tourism!
Second, the scale of the building and its architectural setting is very different to anything else around it. Drive around the beach towns in Central Florida and see for yourself, see how unique this building is.The architectural style belongs to the Brutalist Architecture movement that grew in between the 1950s-1970s. This building was built during the 1960s, which is a perfect witness for the change of times. Construction was with Cast in place concrete, which means the builders created specific molds just for that building to let those curves gracefully stretch upwards.
This building is one of few buildings in Cocoa Beach that is mixed use. This is a great potential for renovation and rehabilitation of the whole area around it.Brave developers and the people who care about Cocoa Beach history and economy should stand up together to bring this building back to its old glory. Designers and Architects in Central Florida, our community should start a competition to gather best ideas to renovate the building. There is so much can be done to create a truly Sustainable and green architecture out of that big structure, besides it could be a facilitator to a bigger projects in Cocoa beach and Central Florida.
History is what fuels the future, how do we want the future to be?!
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