Monday, November 11, 2013

The Next Round

On October 9, 2013 I went to the Orlando City Hall Rotunda, (400 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL) to attend a fundraiser that aimed to help build awareness and raise the funds necessary to preserve Orlando's architectural history. There was a raffle, silent auction, refreshments and live entertainment.

Commissioner Patty Sheehan has been instrumental in the mission of the title sponsor of Next Round, Nils M. Schweizer Fellows - Central Florida Modern, to promote awareness and seek the preservation of Florida's mid-century modern architecture. They are a non-profit corporation composed of design enthusiasts who have united to advance this cause.

With the Construction of the New Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center across the street from city hall, the unique round American Federal Building faces demolition. Although the building can't be saved, they hope to preserve a unique honey comb shaped cement structure known as the Brise Soleil. They are helping to raise private funds to save the Brise Soleil and use it in other locations, thus saving a part of Downtown Orlando History.

A total of $300,000 needs to be raised to remove and preserve all the panels. The city of Orlando has agreed to match any funds donated up to $70,000. How and where they use the Brise Soleil has yet to be determined. There have been dozens of submissions from architects throughout the world offering creative ideas on how to use the panels. The Brise Soleil may be used in sections in different ways in different locations throughout the City or in one defined locale. For instance, some or all of it could be use as a sculpture or set into the ground as a decorative path or even as a sun screen (its originally intended purpose).While the details are brought into focus, the fund-raising efforts must persist in order to save this piece of history, so it is not lost forever once The Round Building is demolished. Evan Miga prepared a short film that outlines the plans for the Brise Soleil.

Sarah Segal was at the fundraiser. It turns out that her father Bob Murphy had designed the Round Building which was built in 1963. Sarah that morning had been looking through letters and documents of her fathers. The round building had been a milestone for him, a turning point in his carrier and a labor of love. As she explained, "My mother was born in Narcoossee and met my father during WWII when many servicemen came thru Orlando. After marrying they stayed in Orlando, because Dad saw Orlando as a city of the future with room for modern architecture. This project was a joy for my father, from concept to completion and beyond. He regularly visited and enjoyed knowing the people who worked in the round building." 

The River Bottom Nightmare Band performed at the base of the stairwell in the rotunda. They performed Cajun music, even using a spoon and washboard at one point. There were seats set up but I was the only person sitting and facing the band. Everyone preferred to stand and mingle.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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