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Take an Architectural Walk in Downtown Fort Lauderdale

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As South Florida's summer heat and humidity begin to dissipate, it's the perfect time to enjoy casual outdoor activities, such as a new downtown Fort Lauderdale walking tour promoted by the Broward County Cultural Division that explores the art and history of the area's architectural structures.

A new interactive brochure, An Architectural Walking Tour of Downtown Fort Lauderdale, was recently produced by the Fort Lauderdale Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, in collaboration with the School of Architecture at Florida Atlantic University and the support of the Downtown Development Authority of Fort Lauderdale.

This guide and its map celebrate some of the best examples of local architecture and sites in the downtown area in honor of the City of Fort Lauderdale centennial, which will be celebrated in 2011.

Particularly significant are sites that are recognized by international architects through design awards, and buildings that stand out on a national stage. These sites teach us lessons about how to build and how to live in South Florida.

The brochure lists more than 30 sites, from the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on the west end to quiet Colee Hammock Park neighborhood on the east end. On the north is the Old City Hall, a mid-century modern structure in a park setting featuring extraordinary specimens of pandanus and ficas trees. On the south is the Stranahan House, the first residence in the city, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In between are such areas as the Himmarshee Historic District, the oldest area of downtown Fort Lauderdale, and the U.S. Federal Courthouse, described as "a reinforced concrete structure with strong horizontal forms that appear stretched and staggered to create an urban scale canopy."

The Broward County Main Library is included on the list as "an example of Brutalist style of architecture adapted to the subtropical climate to show the massive concrete structure that is softened with local limestone inlays and exterior terraces." The library also features a cascading glass curtain wall on its north facade and a dramatic central atrium.

"Our best buildings take advantage of our sub-tropical climate and lush landscape," said Yvette London, president of the American Institute of Architects Fort Lauderdale Chapter. "Whether historical or modern, each has made a recognized contribution to the unique character of Fort Lauderdale and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle that characterizes our sense of place."

Copies of The Architectural Walking Tour of Downtown Fort Lauderdale are available at the Broward Cultural Division's Cultural Information Center located on the ground floor of the Broward County Main Library, 100 S. Andrews Ave., or call 954-357-7979.

"The brochure is a great way to learn about our city," said Jody Horne-Leshinsky, Community Development Director of the Broward County Cultural Division. "The Cultural Information Center is in the heart of the architectural paradise and ideally, easy for all visitors to pick up a brochure and decide which way to go; perhaps, even spread the walking tour over two days or more and enjoy the ambiance of all that downtown has to offer."

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