FLORIDA BUILDINGS I LOVE / HAROLD BUBIL: No. 10: Sarasota High School annex

19 Feb 2017 5:57 PM | AIA Gulfcoast (Administrator)
2100 Bahia Vista St., Sarasota. Paul Rudolph, architect; interior renovation and exterior restoration in 2015 by Harvard Jolly with Jonathan Parks, AIA.

The 1960 addition to Sarasota High School, designed by Paul Rudolph, was the influential architect's seminal work in Sarasota.

By the time it opened, Rudolph, then 42, had become dean of the architecture department at Yale. The building marked his transition from dainty beachfront houses to the large-scale public buildings of his Brutalist period.

Built without air-conditioning, the building's classrooms have large glass panels on the south side that opened to allow cross ventilation. The interior hallways were open-air, allowing hot air to escape through the roof system. The building's signature, vertically mounted shading panels helped control the sunlight.

As part of a larger campus renovation plan, the county School Board spent $8.5 million to revamp the landmark, creating a fresh image for the school and preserving a building that exemplifies the celebrated Sarasota School of architecture.

The renovation completed an often-contentious 15-year effort by the local architectural community to save the building.

Before demolishing another Rudolph-designed building, Riverview High, in 2009, the board promised to "appropriately rehabilitate" Rudolph's work at Sarasota High. In 2012, plans coalesced to restore the building's exterior, keeping the entry breezeways open while rehabilitating interiors for "21st-century learning."

Sarasota Architectural Foundation members generally praise the restoration work.

"The rehabilitation of the exterior looks fantastic," said Janet Minker, the foundation's board chairman. "Our community has saved one of the most important midcentury public buildings in America, and we should all be proud."

The school district's deputy superintendent, Scott Lempe, says the rehabbed structure is a "win-win" for staff, students and the architecture community.

"As you walk up to the school today, your arrival experience is very much like it was in 1959," Lempe said during a recent tour. "The students of SHS have the best science experience in the county today because of what was done on the inside of the building."

Tandem Construction completed the work from Harvard Jolly Architects designs, with expertise on Rudolph provided by Sarasota architect Jonathan Parks.

The renovation was originally expected to cost $7 million, but the discovery of asbestos in exterior stucco required a tedious and costly abatement. All concrete surfaces had to be scraped and chiseled by hand, then repaired and recoated.

Other major parts of the project included removing a parapet to restore the roofline as Rudolph designed it; shoring up the west end of the building, which had settled into the elevated ground about three inches; removing air-conditioning and electrical conduits from the exterior; installing code-compliant railings; and repairing several damaged support columns.

"The success of the project is to keep the breezeways open," Parks said. "The bigger success was not having the building torn down.

"The original gestures of the exterior are now prominent," he added. "The parapet had put a lid on the building. Now it is like a ballerina on her toes."

"Florida Buildings I Love" was created by real estate editor Harold Bubil as a Facebook and Twitter series in 2016 and is being adapted for this section. Harold has prepared a slide show for presentation to civic groups.


AIA Florida Gulf Coast Chapter | P.O. Box 160 | Sarasota | FL | 34230 | info@aiagulfcoast.org | 941.315.8242

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