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The United States Capitol Building’s National Statuary Hall Collection consists of 100 statues contributed by 50 states, with two statues each. Florida is represented here by John Gorrie, the inventor of air-conditioning and mechanical refrigeration. The logic here is that life in Florida would not be possible, or at least as comfortable, without our beloved AC units. Now, as heat waves increase in frequency and intensity and more cities globally depend on air conditioning, we’ll revisit what life was like before its ubiquitous adaptation in Florida. Some of the best examples of environmentally “passive” buildings are preserved in these early pioneer homes. Their designs share some similarities with the indigenous structures that preceded them, in their use of locally sourced rot-resistant materials, as well as harnessing cross ventilation and shading as natural cooling methods. Over time these early buildings would give rise to unique and enduring features like coral-rock construction, and the Florida Room.

Germane Barnes, prefacing a photo essay he published in Anthurium, illuminates how early Black neighborhoods in Coconut Grove and Overtown utilized environmentally passive design, writing that what makes Black Miami architecture unique “is the littoral urbanism found in the Deep South that requires a significant commitment to the sustainability of local ecologies. —— Raised floors and porches, central corridors, and passive cooling are all components of historic black Miami architecture that contemporary Miami has rebranded as climate resiliency and environmentally-friendly design.”

  • Passive Solar Design
  • Cypress Wood and Slash Pine (Fire and Pest Resistant)
  • Raised Foundations
  • Florida Rooms and Verandas
  • Cross Ventilation
  • Breezeblocks
  • Limestone

  • The Barnacle (coastal)
  • Matheson cabins at Patch of Heaven Sanctuary
  • The Kampong
  • Lummus Park preserved buildings
  • Deering Estate
  • Doc Thomas House at SFTA
  • E.W.F. Stirrup House
  • Coral Castle
  • Vizcaya and Venetian Pool Limestone Grottos
  • West Matheson Nursery and other coral-rock CCC structures