Sunday, September 20, 2015

Let's go to Lakeland!

There is actually quite a bit to do out there in Lakeland and usually I just drive through on my way to Tampa/St. Pete. But not today! Time to stop and explore. The mission today is actually to hit two college campuses to check out the, wait for it... architecture!

Yep. First up is Florida Polytechnic University. I'm sure you have seen the futuristic, white dome from the side of I-4 in the area referred to as Orlampa. It is technically in Lakeland but Orlampa has such a nice ring to it!

This beautiful building is open to explore on the weekends and explore we did! Just be sure to be nice and quiet when you enter because sound does carry in that building. The whole place is done an a bare, industrial style while still being futuristic. The floors are concrete and the walls are stark white with glass here and there. There are interesting chairs placed here and there in sitting areas and upstairs is the book-less library. I'm still not sure how I feel about that. The offices are small, glass pods with windows to the outside. Downstairs are the classrooms, the robotics lab, the gaming design center and more. The space I love the most is the outside area that surrounds the building where you can sit under the slatted roof. The view is pretty amazing.

Surrounding the main building there are a series of 7 different ponds. The ponds and grounds are also beautifully maintained and you can catch a glimpse of wildlife here as well. Next time though, I want to see it at night! Looks beautiful all lit up as well. 

Oh, and the roof, well... it doesn't open but the panels shift to allow the light in or to keep the heat out. A pretty neat concept. We learned that if a storm is in the area it shuts down and then has to be manually turned back on to start doing it's job again. Pretty neat. 

So time to head to the next campus! Where? Why Florida Southern College, of course. Did you have any idea that right here in Lakeland there was such a large collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture? Yep, it's right there in Lakeland. 

This campus is absolutely beautiful and the area looks more like a park than a college campus. The Frank Lloyd Wright designed walkways take you around from building to building and allow a nice covered pathway around campus. There are several different tours available that you can sign up for or you can do it yourself by purchasing a map from the visitor center. 

Starting your walk out at the visitor center will let you see two different buildings as well as a water feature designed by Mr. Wright, himself. 

Besides the architecture there is a beautiful rose garden you can walk through and be sure to catch the water dome fountain when it is on. They are in the middle of a renovation of the dome but it does come on every half-hour. The day we visited it was only running at 50% instead of the full 100% but still, it was nice to sit and watch the fountain under the bright blue sky. There is a little coffee shop on site that serves Starbucks as well. Take a break, sip on some refreshment and take it all in.... ahhhh! Right here in Lakeland.

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