The Biltmore Hotel in Gables hosts the Traditional Building Lecture Series

“A Force of Four” features (lr) Peter Miller, president of Active Interest Media; Coral Gables Commissioner Rhonda Anderson; Karelia Martinez Carbonell, President, Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, and Judy Hayward, Director of Education, Traditional Building Conference Series.
(Photo credit: V. Cerda)

Some 200 architects, builders, curators, builders and materials suppliers savored the warmth of the Florida sun and the grandeur of the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on December 1-2, as the series of lectures on the traditional building was returning to live and in-person programming after a two-year hiatus.

Speakers and attendees discussed the challenges facing traditional building practices, classicism and historic preservation, and proposed solutions for affordable housing, adaptive use and sustainability. They discussed complex and thought-provoking ideas in sessions over coffee and over lunch on a gracious neo-Mediterranean terrace at the grand hotel.

Andres Duany FAIA, CNU, co-founder of DPZ LLC, encouraged classicists to “represent something more than beauty” and gave examples of how classicism can inform affordable single-family housing.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, FAIA, CNU, co-founder of DPZ LLC; Marieanne Khoury-Vogt, AIA, and co-founder Khoury-Vogt Architects, and Ernesto Buch, AIA, whose eponymous firm has offices in Miami, Dominican Republic and New Haven, CT, discussed the practice’s rich heritage construction in Florida and the Caribbean. and how it can guide us for harsher climates.

Jill Gotthelf, AIA, FAPT, of WSA Modern Ruins, explained how specifiers and their suppliers can use environmental product declarations. EPDs present verifiable product data and benchmark performance.

Architectural tours of Coral Gable’s historic residential and commercial districts were led on both days by Karelia Martinez Carbonell, President of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables (HPACG), and Albert Menendez, President of HPACG Member M Group International and Chairman of the Historic Preservation Board for the City of Coral Gables. City Commissioner Rhonda Anderson took time out of her busy schedule to thank sponsors and attendees for coming to the Biltmore and Coral Gables. The City of Coral Gables owns the Biltmore Hotel.

Christine Rupp, Executive Director of Dade Heritage Trust, and tour guides from her staff organized walking tours of the Biltmore and a residential walking tour.

Manuel Mergal, AIA, Mergal Architecture, presented a detailed case study of a townhouse retrofit with specific needs: historic preservation, complex building codes, and efficient HVAC.

Aaron Ruby, AIA, Revival Architecture, presented two case studies of commercial buildings with similar rehabilitation goals – saving historic fabric while introducing new HVAC, life safety codes and accessibility.

Lori Garrett, FAIA, Senior Director and Vice President, Glavé and Holmes, Richmond, VA, moderated a panel discussion, Monuments, Diversity and Design. This session presented a strategy to guide architectural professionals in discussions about saving, eliminating or augmenting controversial monuments of classical design. Professor Steven Semes, Notre-Dame School of Architecture; H. Randolph Holmes, Jr., FAIA, and President, Glavé and Holmes, Richmond, VA; Christopher J. Howard, architect and professor, The Catholic University of America, and W. Taylor Reveley, IV, president of Longwood University, Farmville, VA, comprised this panel.

Traditional building materials suppliers have introduced approved programs for AIA Health Safety Welfare learning units. Lauri Wilson and Joe Carlson of Cambek presented information on the impact of hurricanes on garage doors; David Martin of Allied Window presented energy savings and noise reduction with Storm Windows; Kyle Sword from Pilkington North America/NSG showed how to do a carbon reduction calculation and window repair vs. replacement comparison, and Dan Harris from Ludowici discussed the durability of Clay Tile.

Platinum sponsors were Allied Window, Cambek, Crown Point Cabinetry, Historical Arts and Casting, Ludowici and Pilkington North America/NSG.

The silver sponsor was Haddonstone.

Bronze sponsors included Abatron, Aeratis, Belt, Cold Mountain Custom and Mix Legno Group, Cooper Historical Windows, Hull Millwork, Marvin, Oliveri Windows and Doors, and Vintage Millwork and Restoration.

The Traditional Building Conference, a business-to-business event, is underwritten by sponsors who serve historic preservation, restoration/renovation and authentic period new construction. Visit for more information on online education and upcoming in-person events in 2022. Contact [email protected] for registration information. For more information on educational programs, email [email protected]

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