Best Artistic Renovation (1999)

The Buick Building

If traffic is a little slow on NE Second Avenue, blame it on two giant paintings on the façade of the Buick Building, a former car showroom in Miami's Design District. The enchanting sight of the 24-by-12-foot portraits of Haitian freedom fighter Makandal and Aztec heroine La Malinche is sure to incite rubbernecking. The works are the realization of the artist-architect team of Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar, who developed the idea of creating open-air museums by hanging art outside buildings rather than inside. The two paintings, from Marquardt's series of unsung Latin American historical figures, were enlarged and transferred to vinyl mesh, then tacked into oval-shaped recesses in the façade. Commissioned for the Dacra Realty-owned building by company president Craig Robins, the works are the first "exhibition" of many that Marquardt and Behar plan to hang on the building in order to "suggest the possibility of the fantastic as part of everyday life." Sure beats a fresh coat of paint.


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