BEST BUILDING LOBBY - 2005
Miami-Dade County Courthouse
Miami Most folks who stumble through the metal detectors at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse probably have a lot more on their minds than reveling in the gorgeous architecture. But ignoring such beauty is practically criminal. (Not to worry; this is the civil courthouse.) Architects August Geiger and Albert Anthony Ten Eyck Brown (true name) designed the Neoclassical edifice in 1925 after a Miami population explosion rendered the two earlier courthouses too small. Over the years, wear and tear and the addition of an enclosed air-conditioning system detracted from the spacious atrium that once welcomed the courthouse's clientele. When necessary renovations progressed slowly owing to lack of funds, the legal community, led by the Dade County Bar Association, came together and raised enough money to finish work on the lobby. Thankfully they kept the air conditioner, but the false ceiling was removed to reveal the breathtaking two-story atrium. If you stand in the center circle of the tiled floor, you not only get a great feel for it, but you also avoid the ghastly Sixties attached rooms. Delicately carved sea serpents, cupids, and nudes grace the brass elevators. Look just above them to see delightful dolphins swimming in the mosaics. Larger mosaics that depict ships circling the state seal are attached to the ceiling at the entrances. Renovations to other sections of the building should continue for about two more years. Oh! Don't forget to leave your sidearms at home.