Stephen P. Clark Government Center

Sure, the feng-shui foyer of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is fabulous, and the Bacardi compound is breathtaking, but county hall, anarchy's atrium, puts the public in public space. Here you can catch Metrorail, the Metromover, link to the bus system, buy El Horoscopo at a news shop, view larger-than-life-size flags from all 50 states, attend and be amused by a Miami-Dade County Commission meeting, munch on a Cinnabon. Though the hegemony of city, county, state, and federal government slouches all around, county hall, with its main gallery launching from the second floor, turns its face to the sky. Floor-to-high-ceiling windows provide a view to the weather on the sides not obscured by the elevated tracks of the Metrorail. The best thing about our government center is its devotion to functionality and lack of pretense -- anyone can go there, no velvet ropes block access, and watching the cycle of the day trundle along is free. And open to the public. In fact, the place is owned by the public.


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