When students first arrived at the new Coral Gables campus in September 1946, classes were held in temporary wooden buildings that were hastily erected to accommodate the large number of students enrolling in classes after World War II. Many of these buildings resembled army barracks and were dubbed “The Shacks” by students. Other temporary buildings, like the Administration Building designed by Marion Manley, had much more architectural style.
The first permanent classroom building, the Dooley Memorial Building, was begun in 1946, and opened for classes in January 1947 while still under construction. The Merrick Building, which had been an unfinished skeleton since the 1926 hurricane, was redesigned by architect Robert M. Little in the International style and completed in 1949.
Student housing was a critical need at this time. In January 1947, President Ashe procured a $5 million loan from the Federal Housing Administration, the largest loan it made to a university, for a massive project to build housing for the thousands of veterans, most of them married, applying for admission under the GI Bill. This was the largest housing project in Florida at the time, and included over 500 apartments in 27 buildings, with a capacity for 2,166 occupants. They were to be constructed in the southeastern section of the campus, east of Lake Osceola, which was in the process of being dredged.
The University is proud of its history and has undertaken a strategic program to identify and preserve the most important buildings that exemplify the early campus architecture. Accordingly, the Campus Planning office is coordinating with the City of Coral Gables to designate historic landmark buildings. Currently, there are five designated buildings:
1300 Campo Sano Avenue (originally the Administration Building and former Art Building) and a group of 4 related buildings that represent the Post-War Student Housing Village (including Architecture Buildings #48 and #49, Pentland House #34b and La Gorce House #35).