Unique Jacksonville: Independent Square

February 4, 2009 44 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Known as the MODIS Building, Independent Square was completed in 1974 by Jacksonville-based Independent Life and Accident Insurance Company. Once Florida's tallest building, the structure still stands as one of the Southeast's most distinctive office towers.

Independent Life and Accident Insurance Company

Independent Life was founded in Downtown Jacksonville in 1920. As the company grew, it occupied various buildings throughout downtown before eventually moving into Independent Square. Hurricane Andrew would lead to the fall of Independent Life, which was eventually sold to Houston-based American General Corporation in 1995.

Downtown Jacksonville's riverfront prior to the construction of Independent Square and The Landing.

Independent Square

The complex occupies the entire block where Independent Life's first company-owned building stood. The tower's design concept included a sloping base and larger corner frames to provide a distinctive image not only for the company, but also as an identifying landmark for the city of Jacksonville.

The building was also intended to become a "city under one roof." When completed, the first floor contained several retail spaces, restaurants, a bank, a 360 seat theater-style auditorium, and an indoor four story atrium of tropical vegetation.

The tower's 34th and 35th floors are occupied by the River Club of Jacksonville. Purchased by Gate Petroleum in 2004, the private business club was established in 1954 and uses the space for a variety of meetings, parties and receptions.

Independent Square held the title of the tallest building in the state until 1981, when One Tampa City Center was completed. The nearby Bank of America Tower surpassed it in height to become the city's tallest building in 1990.

About Independent Square:

Address: One Independent Drive

Number of Floors: 37

Building Height: 535 feet

Underground Parking Stalls: 250

Amount of Exterior Glass: six acres

Elevator Time: 1 - 37 in 30 seconds

Construction Period: 1972 - 1974

Architect: KBJ Architects

Article by Ennis Davis