Tropic Magazine, Autumn 2018
Cover Article By John O’Connor, Editor
The Assembly Design Intent By Rebecca Bradley, Cadence
Reimagining Courthouse Square
Sun drenched days, rich biodiversity, and constant ocean breezes have always driven the economy of Fort Lauderdale. Yet today’s culture has come to overlook the benefits of our unique climate and often forgets how meaningful interactions with nature can be. The present day architecture of our City has closed its walls to the social and natural communities we are all a part of, leaving the city’s landscape architecture forgotten and stale.
At the heart of this reality and our City is William Morgan’s Federal Courthouse. It stands as a beacon for what was once celebrated and could soon usher a new era for our citizens – one where the intersection of architecture and landscape architecture is honored and where the two perform in unison. Morgan’s establishment of Brutalism in South Florida exhibits his response to our tropic climate. He intentionally broke open the sheering walls of this design to welcome the cooling south-eastern winds, and provided a floating canopy supported by “concrete trees” to shelter the public square. Water features underline the central square to minimize vehicular noise, while further cooling the space. Unfortunately, Morgan could not have predicted modern geo-political forces, events, acts of violence and the increased security measures which arose from the ashes of September 11th forever eliminating the access which once breathed life into this great public square. Consequently, attention has been focused on the interior uses, while our City has watched the outdoor vacuum of this historic structure fall to ruins.