Jose Toledo, P.E. is the President of U.S. Structures, Inc. and engineer-of-record for the historic restoration of the Biltmore Hotel. His experience also includes the restoration repairs of the Freedom Tower Weather Vane in Downtown Miami, and the Coral Gables Congregational Church bell tower.
Originally completed in 1925 as the headquarters and printing facility of the Miami News & Metropolis newspaper
The Freedom Tower is located at 600 North Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, Florida
Designed by architect Schultze and Weaver (also designed the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables and the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach)
Mediterranean Revival style with design elements borrowed from the Giralda Tower in Sevilla, Spain
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 10, 1979
Designated National Historic Landmark in October 6, 2008
The weather vane sits atop the cupola at an elevation of 255 feet (78m)
Vacated in 1957 by Miami News, the building lay vacant until the 1960’s at which time the federal government took over the building.
The federal government used the facility to process, document and provide medical and dental services for refugees from Cuba fleeing Castro’s communist regime.
After the influx of Cuban refugees subsided in 1972, the federal government sold the property, passing through several owners with various development ideas.
The Freedom Tower was eventually purchased in 1997 by Jorge Mas Canosa, a prominent member of the Cuban-American community.
The Freedom Tower was restored and housed a museum dedicated to the refugees who fled to the United States from communist Cuba; library; meeting hall; and the offices of the Cuban American National Foundation.
The Freedom Tower was eventually purchased by developer Pedro Martin and his company, Terra Group. After unsucessuful attemps to develop a condominium next to it, the Martin Family donated the Freedom Tower to Miami Dade College.
Since its acquicition, Miami Dade College has hosted major exhibitions including showcasing the works of masters Dali, Goya and Da Vinci.
Miami Dade College has plans to expand the offerings at the Tower and install exhibitions honoring the Freedom Tower’s past as the home of a major newspaper and the site where hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees were processed. The college will also honor the building’s architecture. It recently restored the New World Mural on the mezzanine level of the Tower. Miami Dade College is a national model for its cultural programming.
U.S. Structures, Inc. was retained in late 2008 to repair the damaged weather vane, as well as strucutal repairs and restoration from the 16th floor level up to the cupola.
The weather vane is scheduled to be removed during the first week of June 2009.
Damaged Shaft and Temporary Tie-backs
Damaged Shaft - close up view
Leaning Ship and Damaged Copper Cupola
Erection of Scaffolding to Access the Weather Vane