Is Arquitectonica’s first building a Miami landmark?

The Babylon Apartments
The Babylon Apartments

The city of Miami’s historic preservation board will meet Tuesday to consider whether the first building designed by Arquitectonica, the acclaimed Miami architecture firm, should be designated a city landmark.

Francisco “Paco” Martinez Celorio, the owner of the red, six-story Babylon Apartments, applied for a permit to demolish the 34-year-old building, which is in poor condition. The city has ordered the owner to tear it down.

But the city preservation board has prevented the city building department from issuing a demolition permit to Martinez Celorio while it considers whether the Babylon Apartments merit designation as a historic and architectural landmark.

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Historian Arva Parks told the Miami Herald that the Babylon, Arquitectonica’s first building design, deserves a landmark designation because it launched the firm’s growth and influence. In addition to its headquarters in Coconut Grove, Arquitectonica now has offices in South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as New York City and Los Angeles.

The pyramid-like ziggurat design of the Babylon provided a template for other Arquitectonica  buildings in Miami’s Brickell area including the Atlantis, the high-rise with a square hole made famous by the television series Miami Vice.

“There has never been a firm out of Miami that’s become as internationally famous as Arquitectonica. Never. And this basically is their first commercial building,” Parks told the Herald. “This launched their career. It’s singular.” [Miami Herald] — Mike Seemuth