Best Building - 2012
Broward Main Library
The task presented to architect Robert Gatje of New York-based Marcel Breuer Associates was difficult: Design a library that would embody the early 1980s resurgence of Fort Lauderdale. To do this, he employed a hodgepodge of design elements that came together flawlessly. The glass façade facing north is imposing. The landscaped terraces are swank. Walls made of local coral rock are thoughtful. A reflecting pool that appears to run uninterrupted from the outside to the inside is striking (when full). And the six-story atrium punctuated by an Alexander Calderesque mobile (it's by William Gaterman) is the kicker. Many of these eye-catching features are currently obscured by construction fences, part of a project to swap in impact glass so the building can better handle high winds and hurricanes. Even though the Broward Main Library dates back only to 1984, officials have already started the paperwork to get the building designated as a Fort Lauderdale historical landmark. "You can argue that it's the most iconic building in the county," says Dave Barber, Broward County Historic Preservation Coordinator. "It's such an amazing space to walk into. You feel like you're in a special place, and that's how libraries and public buildings should be." Amen.