The School of Architecture has been trying to build a new school for years, after a previous plan fell apart because a donor withdrew the donation promised to the school.
“The school has been planning this specific building for several years. Actually, when the School of Architecture moved into its current buildings, the intention was that these buildings would be temporary headquarters,” professor Joanna Lombard said. “So just about every student and faculty member associated with the School of Architecture has been waiting for the new building as long as we have been a School of Architecture.”
Jorge M. Perez, founder and CEO of The Related Group of Florida, a Miami-based real estate development company, and member of the University’s Board of Trustees, has donated $1.25 million to the UM School of Architecture. He has also committed to help raise the $250,000 needed from other supporters for the school.
“It’s always wonderful to give back to the community in which you live and work. It’s very exciting to participate in providing a learning center of this magnitude for the architectural students at the University of Miami, an institution I am very proud to be involved with,” said Perez.
“Mr. Perez has made significant contributions to this community, and as a member of the Board of Trustees and through the generous gift, he greatly enhances the quality of the University of Miami,” President Donna E. Shalala said.
The new architecture school will consist of an 8,600-square foot building designed by architect and urbanist Leon Krier. The building will provide a lecture hall for daily teaching, a gallery for exhibitions and a classroom with multi-media capabilities and will accommodate the school’s visiting lecturer’s program that brings celebrated architects to Miami for public presentations.
“Leon Krier is one of the leading architects of our era. He is an important thinker whose ideas have inspired much of the work that goes on here, so it is appropriate that he would design the first major building of the School of Architecture,” Lombard said.
“My hope, and one that is widely shared by generations of students and faculty, is that this building is the beginning of the rest of the School of Architecture.”
“When Elizabeth showed me the plans for the building, I fell in love with it,” Perez told a Miami Herald reporter. “It’s not a large building, but it really is a work of art. And I think a great school of architecture should have a great building.”
The school expects to break ground within one year. The new building will sit comfortably among its “quite graceful and minimalist” companions, said School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.
“Mr. Perez continues to make his mark in urban development in South Florida,” said Plater-Zyberk. “The School of Architecture is honored to be part of his commitment to his community.”
Kathleen Fordyce can be contacted at K4Dice@aol.com