City of Miami City Hall Renovation Project
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The Magic is returning...


City Hall Restoration & Pan Am 75th Anniversary

Pan Am Celebration The Restoration Process of City of Miami City Hall The process to restore the building began with in-depth historical research of the building and close scrutiny of original building plans and innumerable historic photographs of the interior. The first part of a paint analysis process involved creating “exposure windows” -- the removal of sections and samples of paint from the various layers of paint that had been applied to the building over the past 74 years in order to determine the actual historic decorative paint detail on the walls, beams, and joists. Based on these samples of paint from the original structure, historically accurate paint colors were formulated for use by the restoration artisans of Evergreene Studios of New York.
Pan Am Remembered

Today the decorative elements of the original terminal once again have their original appearance including the ceiling, wall murals and beams. The ceiling consists of panels depicting the signs of the Zodiac, and the beams supporting the ceiling are decorated with stylized wings and bands in the Pan American colors. The murals near the ceiling that depict the history of flight all have been restored to their original state. Designs depict a range from Leonardo Da Vinci’s aeronautical designs to the modern Clipper planes used by Pan American World Airways. This was an intricate part of the restoration process as all acoustical tiles from within the ceiling coffers were removed (they had been glued on in various layers throughout the years) which in turn exposed the original design for the painted zodiac symbols.

Rather than retouch the ceiling and merely repaint the symbols, the acoustical problem that was thus presented had to first be re s o l v e d . Evergreene Studios made hand tracings of the zodiac symbols and sent them to their New York Studios to be replicated on canvas. Sound absorptive cellulose, was then sprayed onto the original ceiling and in conjunction with a product called Snaptex, which stretches the canvas containing the tracings over the ceiling, the original ceiling replete with all the various symbols was recreated, exactly as when the terminal first opened.

Cake cutting ceremonyUpon its completion, the Dinner Key terminal also featured an elegant upper deck restaurant and people would gather there to view the activity in the waiting area below, as well as on the observation deck outside, from where the arriving Clippers could be seen. These original windows, that once overlooked the terminal waiting area from the dining room – investigations indicated that the windows had been covered with drywall many years prior – were thus exposed, painted and restored to their original color. All of the fixtures will replicate the precise detail of the light fixtures found in the historic photographs.

Additionally, the massive, motorized Globe, once located in the lobby of the terminal and the focal point of passenger interest, is now located in the Museum of Science in Miami. It will, however, be symbolically recalled through the recreation of a mosaic map of the western hemisphere depicting the original Pan American World Airways routes via a new terrazzo floor that will go in the building’s outer lobby.

The history of the City of Miami City Hall and Pan American World Airways are forever entwined in what once was the Pan American Seaplane Terminal at Dinner Key. When construction began in 1933, the Dinner Key Terminal and Airport was the most modern and largest marine air facility in the world, leading the way to Pan Am’s future role as an international leader in aviation, transportation of people, property and mail.

Since 1954, the City of Miami City Hall has occupied the former Pan American terminal, originally referred to as the “Air Gateway between the Americas” and has endowed it with its own history as a city now known worldwide as “the Gateway to the Americas.” Indeed, this slogan also represented the eventual reach and worldwide recognition of Pan American World Airways, and the building today still represents an important part of aviation transportation history, as well as, the adventure, prestige and glamour that two internationally famous symbols – Pan Am and Miami – have bestowed upon it.

The actual terminal space is currently being transformed into a stateof- the-art meeting space for the City Commission. This will include a new wood dais, new and additional seating, increased public access throughout, vastly improved lighting and audio, as well as, providing for state-of-art technology. Once again the building is poised, at the beginning of the 21st Century, to continue its prominent role in the world as the center of Miami’s city government, just as it once did as a transportation hub for Pan American World Airways.