Once home to Addison Mizner’s headquarters, the Addison restaurant and events venue is a shining example of the Mizner design with barrel tile roof, elegant archways held aloft by columns, pecky cypress soffits and tile floors. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star
By Mary Hladky
Boca Raton is about to make changes to the ordinance governing downtown development that will loosen the grip that famed architect Addison Mizner has on building designs.
The ordinance, enacted in 1988, was critical to the creation of Mizner Park — which breathed new life into a moribund downtown — and everything that has been built since. But it is outdated, city officials agree, and needs a major overhaul.
A total update of that massive ordinance, however, would be “an extremely time-consuming and difficult exercise,” Deputy City Manager George Brown said at the April 20 Planning and Zoning Board meeting.
So, at the request of Mayor Scott Singer, the city will start with a limited set of changes to the ordinance’s architectural standards that planning board member Joe Panella and several others attending the meeting called a “baby step.”
Some of those changes would give builders leeway to make “more contemporary reinterpretations of the Mizner tradition.”
But they also would be able to forgo the reinterpretations. The city would “encourage” treatments that are “appropriate to the overall architectural character of a building.”
“We are not trying to throw Mizner out,” Brown said, “but we are trying to take the focus away from that specific style of architecture and allow for more flexibility in interpreting the characteristics that his architecture exemplified, which is something we like in our downtown.”
Veneration of Mizner, who died in 1933, runs deep in the city’s blood. He designed its most iconic buildings, including the Cloister at The Boca Raton.
When the downtown development ordinance was created, it required building designers to incorporate elements of his architectural vision, but not literal copies of his work.
The result is that when any new downtown building is proposed, architects take pains to explain how they have done so, even though their designs bear little resemblance to a Mizner building.
Two prominent Boca Raton architects, Juan Caycedo and Derek Vander Ploeg, supported updating the ordinance to give architects more flexibility. Vander Ploeg said some of the proposed changes are long overdue and Caycedo called them a step in the right direction that would open the door to different types of architecture.
Caycedo said that building materials and technology have changed substantially since Mizner’s day, giving architects many more options to create great buildings. He urged the city to make more than the 10 proposed changes.
Caycedo noted a beautiful Chicago building that would not now be allowed in Boca. In seeming frustration, he blurted out, “Who is Mizner anymore?
‘The city is more IBM than Mizner. The city is what IBM and Arvida created. We should be looking forward.”
More suggested changes will be coming, Brown said, describing the 10 as “a start.”
The list includes eliminating the requirements that no more than 40% of building exteriors can be made of glass, that building exteriors must be in light and pastel color and that roofs must be Spanish clay tile or something else that is reminiscent of the Mizner style.
The planning board was poised to vote, but Joe Peterson, a member of the city’s Community Appearance Board that is charged with vetting the architecture and aesthetics of proposed buildings, said the CAB had not been consulted on the proposed changes.
The planning board quickly corrected that oversight. It unanimously voted to recommend that the City Council approve the changes after the CAB provides its input.
The council is expected to consider the matter at the end of May.
Worse News i$ GL Home$ apparently got approved to build another City in West Boca and rip up AG Reserve land despite most residents opinions.Yes, we really need 1000 more homes instead of green space.
Driven on Glades between 441 and Tpk and 95 betwen say 4-7 PM?
7-2 in favor I read. Let's remeber the 7 come nexy election.