SPANISH BONES

DESIGN BY SPANISH BORN ARCHITECT, SANTIAGO CALATRAVA.

IMG_9087Driving a bit above the speed limit eastbound on I-4 and anxious to get home after work, I sometimes drive a little further on I-4 and take exit 41 to the Polk Parkway.  My attention is often drawn to this particular building that is home to Florida Polytechnic University. It has baffled me since I first saw it being constructed. Santiago Calatrava is the architect who designed this building. I had never heard the name before but when I googled him I was impressed! He is a world renowned, award winning, architect.  How courageous of the local business men and women, and Senator J.D. Alexander for their selection, and for convincing Governor Rick Scott to sign the legislature that allowed Florida Poly to separate from USF. Lakeland is an interesting city that has a small-town,  unassuming image but is home to many talented artists, musicians, and boasts two major works by big gun architects, Frank Lloyd Wright and now Santiago Calatrava.

IMG_8947Yikes! 60 million dollars for this little college campus in Central Florida. Calatrava has a controversial and much maligned  reputation for going way over budget on his pricy, overly complicated usually white designs. He is  the same architect who designed the 4 billion dollar transit hub on the new world trade center building in New York.  Looking at his designs I think the man is a genius with an incredibly refined artistic sense of balance, and symmetry.  So what if he is not good at projecting costs. He is not an accountant after all, he is an artist.  Truly he is in a class of his own. A very refined architect who began his studies as an art student and then transitioned to architecture and also studied civil engineering. I can see all these disciplines reflected in his work. Click on the word student in the previous sentence to view a youtube video about Calatrava.

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Tom was invited for a private tour of the Florida Poly Technic facility while it was under-construction but we were out-of-town at the time and didn’t make it. A few weeks ago, they had an open house for the public which again did not work with our schedules.

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Recently, Tom attended an A.I.A. conference at the facility and the attendees were treated to a private tour afterwards. I was invited to the tour but as usual, I was stuck in grid lock traffic on I-4 and never made it.

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The images above and below are of the library / media center which has stirred quite a bit of commentary because it does not contain a single hardcopy book. It’s all about virtual reality here. Everything is digital and robotic.

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We both wanted to photograph the building because of its curious design. I encourage you to visit Calatrava’s website and view his featured works.  In my opinion they are amazing. As an architect he is now  one of my favorites, besides Tom, of course.

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This is not the first time Lakeland has recruited a famous architect to build a college in its city. A few miles west of the Florida Poly Technic University Campus is the Florida Southern College campus, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.  I captured these images at Florida Southern in 2013.

Last weekend, after breakfast, we drove by Florida Poly and Tom suggested we stop and let the girls explore the building. The kids were not all that thrilled to be at the school until they saw what was taught there. Gaming, Robotics, Super Computers, that kind of got their attention. In the spirit of dramatic play they then roamed the building pretending they were college students.

Rarely do we not have our cameras with us but, this day we left them home so I resorted to iPhone photography.  The images are not the quality I get with my nikon but they work for posting on this blog.

Aesthetically, this is a very cool building with an ultra modern,  futuristic-minimalist design.The bone like architectural features of the building remind me of the back bone of a dinosaur or an exoskeleton. The roof has robotic / mechanical elements that open at different elevations, depending on the location of the sun, which provides shade for the skylights.

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AND DON’T FEED THE ALLIGATORS!

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Ella spotted a baby alligator in this pond. Watch out! There must be a mother alligator nearby.   Enjoy!.

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