Revisiting the Bacardi Building
By Tom Austin
The plaza directly behind the main building houses a smaller, no less spectacular annex designed by Ignacio Carrera-Justiz in 1974.
Bacardi has still not announced definitive plans for the Biscayne Boulevard offices. On May 26, after protracted negotiations with the city, the company was granted a modification: The raised plaza the building sits on shall remain untouched, but a narrow strip along the north end of the complex at 2100 Biscayne Boulevard is no longer protected. Bacardi did volunteer to create a view corridor, a setback allowing southbound drivers to see the artwork on one of the buildings as they approach the complex.
To City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board officer Alexander Adams, the Bacardi building is Miami: “Bacardi was one of the first major companies to be based here, and years ago, before I-95, the building served as the gateway to downtown. It’s an incredible example of tropical modernism.” In an ideal world, the company would honor a grand legacy of architectural and cultural patronage and turn the entire building into a muchneeded museum of Cuban art. And as Bacardi spokesperson Aura Reinhardt notes, “That building is so iconic. It’s used constantly as a location for parties, as well as movie and television productions.”
It makes absolute sense that one of Miami’s most notable buildings would be created by a liquor manufacturer and gradually become a glorified film set and party venue, a made-for-Miami equation of pure fun. In 2007, The Wolfsonian-FIU held a fundraiser at the complex honoring design legend Florence “Shu” Knoll Bassett, the creative force behind Knoll furniture. I snuck away from the gala and slipped upstairs with a date. Instantly, we both felt transformed… sexier, smarter and more sophisticated if just for a moment. The mysterious alchemy of great architecture has powers beyond reckoning.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY BILL KEARNEY