Mind-Blowing Architectural Structures in Florida!
Surrounded on 3 sides by beautiful oceans, paradise-like beaches, proud standing palm trees and impressively cool mangroves, you could say that Florida basically, “woke up like ‘dis!” with its gorgeous natural features and stunning nature. Throughout history, Florida’s sites for exciting exploration grew, as did the notable architectural structures built across the state. From historic museums, to more modern high-tech jaw-dropping architectural structures, to fairytale castles taken straight from the storybooks, the list of MUST SEE places in Florida simply continues to grow.
Today let’s travel to some of these incredible works of art and explore some of the mind-blowing architectural structures that make Florida so unique. We will also of course be shouting out the talented architects who created the magic along that way!
1. Cinderella’s Castle
Let’s start with the obvious… When thinking about Florida, and a work of eye-dazzling, heart-pounding, straight out from your fairytale books architecture, there is one building that undoubtedly comes to mind: Cinderella’s Castle! Fittingly located in the most magical place on Earth, Cinderella’s Castle represents the heart and center of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. And it is just that, a magic kingdom indeed!
Cinderella’s Castle finds a way to capture all five senses time and time again, no matter your age; young or old. Between the trumpets and upbeat pianos you hear from the parade music passing by, to the smell of fresh cookies and popcorn, it is impossible to not feel amazed by this magical masterpiece. There is something undeniable about the fantasy-world of Disney that sweeps us away from real life.
Your Dream Castle
Disney artist, as well as a personal friend of Walt Disney himself, Herbert Dickens Ryman was the creative mastermind, and chief designer of Cinderella’s Castle. Furthermore, this architectural structure resembles a castle straight from the pages of a fairytale and placed right before your feet, 8 enchanting architectural masterpieces that actually exist in real life inspire Cinderella’s Castle! For example, the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany is a sight that will leave you in total awe. Residing on a mountain top, overlooking forests of trees and rivers, with a scenic mountain range background that makes it look like the backdrop of a movie, this castle seems to have inspired the climactic-like structure with pointed peaks used in Cinderella’s Castle. (Keep an eye out for when we explore all 8 jaw-dropping architectural structures that inspired Mr. Ryman in the design of Cinderella’s enchanting Castle! 😉
2. Flagler College – Formerly: Hotel Ponce de León!
How about a college that has even more history all throughout its architectural structures than that printed in some history books altogether!? Dating all the way back to 1885, Henry Morrison Flagler, a Gilded Age industrialist, entrepreneur, and railroad pioneer purchased land in St. Augustine Florida; where in 1888 he built Hotel Ponce de Leon, known today as Flagler College! Hotel Ponce De León was Flagler’s first in what would be a series of luxury resorts along Florida’s east coast. This architectural structure can be credited with launching the careers of young architects John Carrére and Thomas Hastings who were fresh out of college at the time the project was being produced. Additionally, Carrére and Hastings are also notably recognized and known for their work on the New York Public Library, and the House and Senate office buildings adjacent to the Washington DC capitol.
With its terracotta-colored pointed tops and castle-like feel, the style of Spanish Renaissance architecture is captivating, and makes you feel as though you’ve just been transported into another land and time. And in a way, you have been. Furthermore, the building’s interior design including the stained-glass features and mosaics found within, are accredited to Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Ponce de León Hall was the FIRST major “poured in place” concrete building in the United States. Talk about having your designs and measurements 100% beforehand, knowing the buildings are going to be as set in stone as those plans are! Furthermore, this hall is now a national historic landmark that serves as the centerpiece for Flagler College.
The Nation’s First Electrified Building!
Fun fact!: The Ponce de León Hotel was actually one of the nation’s first buildings with electricity! Edison Electric Company powered the building; equipped with steam heat and 4,000 electric lights. Imagine trying to cram for finals under the original 4,000 lights that electrified the building, compared to the modern-day lights in place at the campus now?!
Flagler College now proudly has 50 years under its belt as an academic school offering students major, minor, and graduate programs ranging over a variety of subjects. Departments of education range from Business Administration, to Math & Technology, Art & Design, Communications, Behavioral Sciences, Natural Sciences and more.
3. The Flagler Museum
Another historic site to see in Florida also involving Henry Morrison Flagler is The Flagler Museum located in Palm Beach, Florida. Interestingly enough, the architects of the Flagler Museum were in fact the same ones who designed Flagler College – John Carrére and Thomas Hastings. Carrerére and Hastings employed the location, building orientation, and symbolism in the design of Whitehall and its grounds. Additionally, they actually attributed a lot of the design’s focus to honoring Apollo, the Sun God!
The designers intended for the building to be in a sense, a temple to Apollo; recognizing and featuring two of his personal muses, literature and the arts. Whitehall also happens to be Florida’s first museum, dating all the way back to 1902! Ready for me to blow your mind even further?! Mr. Flagler actually presented Whitehall as a WEDDING GIFT to his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan! Talk about EXTRAVAGANT!? Makes me wonder what he gave the first two; perhaps an entire island, or maybe a ship!
The home’s original design is loyal to Beaux-Arts’ style of architecture. Designers incorporated Doric columns featured throughout Whitehall’s exterior. These are regularly associated with temples honoring Apollo the Sun God; as is Whitehall’s east-facing orientation and lion heads found at the center of the mansion’s enormous bronze doors. According to waterfront-properties.com; a story was written about the incredible mansion in 1902 and published in the New York Herald stating that the “beach home was described as, ‘More wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world…’”. The couple used the home as a winter-retreat. The 75-room, 100,000sqft., dream-house was surely spacious enough to accommodate any visiting guests.
Between the years of 1925-1955, Whitehall operated as a luxury hotel. When a hotel tower was added, the area that was once a formal garden became a dining room for the new Whitehall Hotel. In 1906, Whitehall opened to the public, wherein the following years the hotel tower was removed, and the atrium garden was restored! 🙂
4. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Guitar
Florida isn’t only filled with impressive architectural structures brimming with history, and theme parks housing magical castles enchanting young and old eyes alike. If modern day structural masterpieces shooting 450 feet into the sky equipped with captivating LED light shows is more your style, let’s dive into one of Florida’s newest mind-blowing structural works of art – The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Guitar Hotel!
Architects built the original Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, back in 2004. The location officially opened to the public in 2005. Decoration of the Hotel revolved around a rotating selection of celebrity’s iconic outfits, accessories, and memorabilia; chosen from the Hard Rock’s incomparable 81,000 piece collection. The original hotel offered luxurious rooms, a variety of shops, bars and restaurants, a stadium for concerts and events, a huge casino overflowing with exciting bells ringing from machines, and a grand swimming pool. The pool had continually blown my mind with its ability to play music underwater!
$1.5 Billion Building
Anyone driving on the Florida Turnpike in the Hollywood area has watched the epic construction of this marvelous “Guitar Hotel”. After 7 years in the making, the Hard Rock’s $1.5 BILLION extension on the property is now complete. If you’re not from the area and are wondering why this building receives the name “The Guitar Hotel”; I’m here to shock you further with the answer. A guitar hotel is precisely what it is!
The architects brilliantly designed the architectural structure to resemble back-to-back guitars; complete with guitar faces and brightly lit strings, which are topped with six high-powered beams of light BLASTING up to what seems to be at least 20,000 feet high in the sky. These lights are mimicking a guitar neck and offer yet another “wow” factor to the building’s stunning presence.
Additionally, the “strings” aren’t the only LED lights that we can admire on the guitar; that’s just the beginning and views you can still see from your car on the highway. With a $1.5 billion budget, you can bet there were no design elements spared! LED lights are actually built into ALL sides of The Guitar Hotel, and they are programmed to change color and intensity while being choreographed to different songs that play during spectacular orchestrated light shows. These eye-dazzling shows occur twice a night! If you want to catch this incredible light spectacle, The Guitar Hotel rocks out nightly at 7:30pm and again at 8:30pm; 12 minutes for each lightshow.
Hardest Rocking Architectural Structure in South Florida
This mega-sized instrument of a hotel houses 638 luxury guest rooms; bringing the total room count for the entire Hard Rock Resort to over 1,200! The rooms range from a standard 700sqft. suite, to a life of the rich and famous style, two-floor, 4,000sqft. penthouse; fittingly named the “Beyoncé Penthouse”. Wilson Associates designed The Beyoncé penthouse in Dallas. The penthouse can somewhat be considered the crowning jewel of this already stunning resort. The penthouse features floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms, and its own private balcony pool. Additionally featured, is a miniature Taschen library including texts on feminist theory. In conclusion, this elegant dream of a penthouse is a room fit for the Queen B herself!
Today the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino features over three-football-fields worth of casino space, covering 150,000 square feet with 7,000 seats at 195 tables: doubling the size of the original casino. To further the options for fun: the resort includes a 6,500-seat theatre-style concert venue, 19 restaurants, 20 bars, and a mall, DAER- a 44,000sqft. night AND day club, as well as half a dozen pools.
Surrounding the pool is what the hotel likes to call the “Bora Bora experience”; which includes a group of 16 luxury villas. These paradise-like villas provide swim-up entrances, private plunge pools, and butler services! They are available for hotel guests to rent by the day. Subsequently, “The Spine” is the extending base of the guitar; a covered walkway bordered by waterfalls that lead to swim-up ground floor suites that appear in the new Oasis Tower. The Oasis Tower is a seven-story; 168-room low-rise building that slopes across the southwest end of the complex and resort.
Design Elements with Benefits…
While the guitar shape itself is mesmerizing enough there are even more subtle design elements that deserve recognition. The lead designer firm on this epic one-of-a-kind masterpiece was Klai Juba Wald Architects, while the Structural Engineering credit goes to DeSimone Consulting Engineers. In addition, Eastern Engineering Group made a contribution to the structural engineering of this rocking building. Our team of specialty engineers for structural components, performed the structural calculations for several stairs and railings of this cool guitar-shaped casino. Thanks to their brilliant creativity and savvy planning, they incorporated additional elements into the guitar’s already jaw-dropping presence.
Both sides of the guitar contain strategically placed spacious balconies set back from public view. As a result, designers ensured ultimate privacy. Additionally, the guitar also features an innovative rigging installation system for enabling the cleaning and repair of the windows and lights throughout the guitar. Telescopic tools are located on top of the building to offer minimal visual interference, and successfully maintain constant clean shiny windows and a flawless view!
The Guitar Hotel is the epitome of a modern-day marvel; not only among the architectural structures in the world, but has been capturing the attention of celebrities, and spectators. Needless to say, it’s the first mega-instrument you can spend the night in, and it is ABSOLUTELY worth checking out!
The Sunshine State and So Much More
The list of not only incredible architectural structures, but also captivating buildings to check out in Florida continues to grow.
The enchanting wonderland that is Cinderella’s Castle, the historic buildings of Flagler College and Flagler Museum, and the incredible work of art that is the Hard Rock Hotel – just happens to be a few of my personal favorites.
Check back soon when we explore more must-see places and mind-blowing architectural structures specifically located in Eastern Engineering Group’s hometown; the one and only Miami, Florida!
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