Published On: Fri, Mar 15th, 2013

Does Design Matter?

By Douglas A. Mummaw

Boca Raton has become a world wide recognizable brand. We have seen our city in the spotlight recently with Dr. Kevin Ross and Lynn University’s esteemed leadership hosting the last presidential debate. Over 130 million people were exposed to BOCA RATON. Our City never shined brighter. We had “Morning Joe” televising several mornings in Mizner Park’s Rack’s Restaurant. The Allianz Golf Tournament is now a premier golf event. We now have Florida Atlantic University’s School of Medicine and Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Match all of that with an exceptionally managed government and we have created a very special community.

By now it can be discerned that I am passionate about Deisgn and proving why it MATTERS in general, but most importantly in our Downtown. I grew up in this town. My family moved here in 1959 when Boca Raton was a sleepy ocean side community. The City has continually evolved with a design driven purpose. Much has changed since then, but to really understand how much and more specifically, why it changed, we must look further back in time when Boca Raton was being planned and developed.

In 1925, Addison Mizner had a vision for Boca Raton to “CREATE the world’s most architecturally beautiful playground with miles of paved and landscaped streets, golf courses, polo fields, elegant shopping vias, and luxurious mansions for the crème de la crème of world society.”  I think it is reasonable to believe that his vision has been realized. Although his Development Real Estate venture struggled and ultimately failed. His architectural legacy built a solid foundation for planning, architectural design and place making has made a permanent impact on our city.

“Mizneresqe Architecture” is patterned after Boca Raton’s first Architect and his unique regional architectural style. Now architectural critics can easily identify the historical precedents Addison used in his creations. It can further be argued that most architecture is either precedent driven(copies a style, order or composition of existing architecture) or an interpretation of existing architecture, thereby creating a reinvention of the existing style. Other than uniquely iconic architecture like Frank Gehry or Renzo Piano, most architecture strongly references the past.  So what is Mizner Architecture and Why Does It Matter in our downtown?

First, “Mizneresqe” architecture is a code. In fact, it is in our Municipal Code:) It is a common architectural vocabulary that we(Architects) must follow when designing in downtown Boca Raton. It is a uniquely crafted set of tools we use to create the buildings we have today. I am honored to share this important responsibility with my esteemed local colleagues like Derek Vander Ploeg, Paul Slattery, Bruce Retzch, Juan Caceyedo and many, many others. They have created many of the remarkable architecture we all enjoy. They are experts in interpreting Mizner Architecture and then reinventing it with their own distinguished designs.

The Boca Resort, Old Town Hall, Addison Mizner Cottages in Old Floresta and of course The Addison(His original administration Building and Apartment) on the corner of Camino and Dixie highway are very recognizable buildings that exemplify the architecture style of Addison Mizner. Low sloping barrel tile roofs, continuous colonnades enclosing deep loggias and walkways. Broken roof lines with towers, chimneys, and other habitable rooms stretch along the blue sky in concert with the neighboring buildings. Stone detailing, pecky cypress wood and hand framed out-lookers beneath the roofs. Mizner incorporated Renaissance architecture using symmetry, Palladian arches, gothic architectural styles and strong compositional balance. His designs also include hand painted glazed ceramic tiles and ornamental iron work. The “Mizneresque” architectural style is beautiful and its importance to Boca Raton is irrefutable.

The Mummaw Studio is working on a project soon to be realized in the downtown which I have conceptualized as “Eredita”, which means legacy in Italian. It specifically refers to not only the legacy of Addison Mizner, but also the legacy of Renaissance Architecture. Friends, DESIGN MATTERS and it certainly matters in our Downtown. I look forward to seeing the surge in Multi-Family Residential Projects currently underway come to fruition and continue the Downtown’s inevitable maturation as Addison Mizner envisioned almost 100 years ago…….

Douglas A. Mummaw, AIA, NCARB

President – Mummaw and Associates, Inc.

President – The Rotary Club of Boca Raton, 2011-2012

Boca Raton Rotary Fund President 2012-2013

Adjunct Professor – Palm Beach State College – Architecture Department

Caption: Mizner Park

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