School of Architecture honored for serving Little Havana

The City of Miami celebrated “Rodolphe El-Khoury Day” to acknowledge the achievements of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture on Thursday, Sept. 24.

The day’s namesake, the dean of School of Architecture, was honored on Wednesday at Miami City Hall for orchestrating a large-scale and exceedingly impactful community service event dubbed “U-Serve.”

“It’s really part of the curriculum…. It’s integrated into every aspect of the school,” El-Khoury said of giving back to the community.

U-Serve took place March 25 when over 200 students and staff came together in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Using a mobile app designed by the faculty of the school, they took inventory of properties and documented architectural resources. The project was a huge success; participants were able to map out over 400 properties in Little Havana, helping to preserve the rich cultural heritage of this vibrant Hispanic community.

“We owe a lot to the University of Miami School of Architecture,” proclaimed Mayor Tomás Regalado in front of an assembly at Miami City Hall on Wednesday morning. The mayor  went on to present the dean with a proclamatory notice, symbolizing the City of Miami’s recognition and appreciation for the efforts of everyone involved on March 25.  

The recognition went beyond the municipal level; the efforts of the Architectural School toward preserving Little Havana was acknowledged by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which places it among one of the 11 most endangered historic places in America.

U-Serve Day wasn’t the first occasion in which School of Architecture has stepped up to the plate in supporting the city of Miami; as El-Khoury recalled in his speech, former SoA dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and professor Sonia Chao, among others, played an integral role in planning the reconstruction of South Dade after the devastation of Hurricane Andrew.

It is clear that Dean El-Khoury is conscious of the community and the School of Architecture’s responsibility to contribute.

“We train citizens as much as architects, and we will continue to do this,” he said. “We are active in thinking about the future of the city.”


Feature photo courtesy Pixabay user gabrielmbulla.