Daily digest: Key West’s Southernmost Point landmark is burned, a virtual tour of the doomed Champlain towers, and more

Looking South

Daily digest: Key West’s Southernmost Point landmark is burned, a virtual tour of the doomed Champlain towers, and more

The remains of Champlain Towers South the day of the partial collapse on June 24, 2021. Approximately 50 percent of the building was left standing, and rescuers tore it down over the long holiday weekend that followed. (Courtesy Miami-Dade Fire Rescue)

Good afternoon and welcome to the first day of the first week of the new year. Will 2022 be better or worse than the year that preceded it? While the boom in COVID cases, driven by the more contagious Omicron variant, is shuttering schools and museums across America at the time of writing, it’s still too early to tell how things will shake out. Regardless, everyone at AN is thankful for your continued patronage and we hope you’ll stick with us and be a reader for the year to come (and well beyond).

Here’s what’s going on today:

Key West’s Southernmost Point landmark is damaged by arson

Key West, Florida’s Southernmost Point buoy was damaged by fire on January 1 and police are reportedly still searching for the two men they suspect set it. A live webcam feed of the buoy, which indicates Cuba is only 90 miles away, clearly shows the pair laying a Christmas tree in front of the landmark and setting it ablaze early in the New Year.

H/t to the New York Post

Reconstructing the deadly Champlain Towers South collapse

The unprecedented collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, on June 24, 2021, left 99 people dead and dozens injured, in what is considered the third-deadliest engineering failure in United States history. Felled not by a natural disaster or terrorist attack but underlying design flaws and decades of deferred maintenance, it was an eminently preventable tragedy. Now, the Miami Herald has put together a comprehensive, interactive history of the building dating back to the 1970s, the years between then and its failure in 2021, and eyewitness accounts and engineering reports that shed light on the collapse proper.

H/t to the Miami Herald

San Antonio’s contentious Central Library will be repainted after fading to pink

Eleven years after its last fresh coat, San Antonio’s Central Library will be returned to its proper hew of “enchilada red” after fading to pink in the brutal Texan sun. Designed by Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta, who frequently worked with strong, singular forms splashed a single, bright color, the library has been repainted three times since it opened in 1995. The postmodern library might need a touchup, but just down the road sits the similarly hued David Adjaye-designed Ruby City art museum, which got around the maintenance issue by using pigmented concrete.

H/t to San Antonio Express-News

Boston is the latest city to eliminate parking minimums (for affordable housing developments)

On December 22, 2021, the newly inaugurated mayor of Boston, Michelle Wu, signed off on an amendment to the Boston Zoning Code that eliminates on-street parking requirements for new affordable housing projects. It’s important to note that the amendment doesn’t ban parking at qualifying projects, but rather allows developers to decide how much to include. It is also only applicable for developments where at least 60 percent of the residential units are set aside for those making 100 percent of the Area Median Income or less; theoretically, by cutting down on costs, the city is hoping to spur more investment into such affordable housing projects.

“This action will help take down barriers to the creation of new affordable housing across the city,” said Mayor Wu in the city’s announcement. “We need every tool in our toolbox to address our city’s housing crisis. Eliminating parking minimums removes an outdated standard from our zoning code and will spur new housing to make it easier for Bostonians to live and stay in our city.”

The South African parliament building was set on fire

January 2 saw another arson, this time at the South African Houses of Parliament in Cape Town. With legislators and security off for the holidays, the suspect was able to reportedly climb in through a window and set fire to the historic complex, which contains thousands of historic cultural artifacts. The sprinklers failed to go off, and significant damage was reported to the New Assembly Wing, destroying the roof. Offices and other working areas were damaged as well, and it reportedly took firefighters several hours to extinguish the blaze.

H/t to the BBC

Italy blocks McDonald’s from building a drive-through at historic Roman ruins

Visitors to Rome’s historic ruins of the third-century Baths of Caracalla will have to go without McDonald’s. The fast-food behemoth had wanted to open a new drive-through restaurant directly adjacent to the baths, which opened under the reign of Emperor Caracalla sometime between 212 and 216 A.D., but was shot down for good by Italy’s highest court on December 28, 2021. Although McDonald’s is still planning an ambitious expansion across Italy, the ruling codifies the Italian government’s ability to cancel projects that threaten historic landscapes in the future.

H/t to The Art Newspaper