Aeon is proud to announce that the Freedom Tower project has received its second preservation award this month. The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation presented the award for Outstanding Achievement in Restoration/Rehabilitation to Miami Dade College and the project team Friday night at an awards ceremony held at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The project team included Kaufman Lynn Contractors, Rodriguez & Quiroga Architects, and Aeon Preservation Services LLC. Aeon principal Alfonso Narvaez was on hand to receive the award and also served as a speaker in a workshop profiling the project and the role of architectural conservators in large scale projects. The following narrative is from the Trust’s award ceremony:
Freedom Tower – Miami
The Freedom Tower has been an icon of downtown Miami since it was built in 1925. Originally the home of Miami Daily News, the Shultze and Weaver designed building, which was the tallest in Miami at the time, represented the exponential growth and thriving economy of Miami.
The building gained its name and its enduring place in US history for the role it played during the mass immigration of Cuban exiles in the 1960’s. Over a 12-year period the U.S. government occupied most of the facility and provided in-processing services, basic medical and dental services and relief aid to thousands of exiles.
In 1979, the Freedom Tower was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its association as the Cuban Refugee Emergency Center and the offices of the oldest newspaper and plant facilities in Miami. It was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 2008.
After multiple owners and extended periods of time during which the building remained vacant, ownership of this landmark was transferred to Miami Dade College in 2008. Under the stewardship of the college the Freedom Tower serves as an educational, cultural and community center. Since Miami Dade College acquired it, the iconic building has been used for major art exhibitions, such as the complete set of master Goya’s etchings for the first time in the United Sates, drawing a record crowd. Committed to the preservation of the Freedom Tower as a place where people from all over the world can learn about the history of South Florida’s community and its role in the political fabric of the country as well as a place to enjoy cultural treasures, Miami Dade College secured funding and assembled a qualified design and construction team to perform urgently needed restoration work.
Though the Freedom Tower had undergone several restorations in the past thirty years, this was the first time that a thorough “top to bottom” exterior restoration was performed.
The restoration also included replacing over 350 original windows with historic replica impact windows, which would meet current hurricane codes, replacing the copper dome roofing, structural repairs, painting, coatings, and waterproofing the entire exterior envelope as well as interior restoration of the ballroom, which included plaster restoration, interior carpentry work and painting.
The project team devoted significant time looking at other buildings from the time period and studying their building plans, learning about techniques, material and construction methods to assure that the restoration work would be as historically accurate as possible. At the same time, the restoration addressed current building codes and provided long-term solutions that will significantly expand the life of the structure, using available funds judiciously and effectively.
After a thorough investigation, detailed planning and many hours of precision craftsmanship work by dedicated contractors, often working suspended 14 floors above the streets of Miami, The Freedom Tower once again stands in all its beauty, ready to welcome new generations to learn about a significant period in Miami’s history and a symbol of freedom and democracy.