Historic Miami high school costs $50 million to restore

Restoration and expansion took four years to complete

MIAMI – Miami Senior High School, listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places, and Miami's first high school, has been restored to its original luster.

A rededication celebration on Friday educated visitors as it traced the restoration through educational workshops and tours that showed off a state-of-the art media center and a new building that was added to compensate for the school's growing population.

The restoration and expansion project of the 1928 structure took about four years to complete at a cost of more than $50 million. New 14-foot-tall arched windows and dramatic steel trusses are some of the highlights. The school's auditorium has been completely restored showing off four original, massive chandeliers that weigh 1,500 pounds each, and are now lit through LEDs.

"We had to build the new that would mix with the original, but not take away from the original design," said Alex Suarez, project manager, for the restoration's builders MCM.

Known as "the Biltmore of Education," the school's original design includes grand interiors spaces, an open courtyard, colonnades and fountains, according to Zyscovich Architects, who was commission by Miami-Dade County Public Schools to master plan the restoration.

All of the halls, windows and floors were also restored.

The school was designed by architect Richard Kiehnel of Kiehnel and Elliott in 1928, one of the great early Miami architects; he also designed the Coral Gables Congregational Church in 1923 and the Carlyle Hotel in 1941 in Miami Beach, among other notable buildings.