Tuesday, December 26, 2006

County May Step In On Riverview

Another story about the possibility of Sarasota County Government reviewing the proposed demolition of the Rudolph builidngs at Riverview High School:
Preservationists who want to save Riverview High School have found a glimmer of hope in a Sarasota County government investigation into whether the county could challenge plans to demolish the 48-year-old school.

The Sarasota County School District plans to tear down parts of Riverview, including buildings designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph, and rebuild the school within four years.

But newly elected County Commissioner Joe Barbetta fears the demolition could violate the county's rules about preserving historic resources. Sarasota County staff is investigating whether the county needs to perform a historic evaluation before the three Rudolph buildings can be torn down.

Some county leaders are also concerned the school could worsen traffic in Riverview's suburban Sarasota neighborhood, a charge county staff is investigating as well. A report is expected by mid-January.

The full story, can be found in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Flicker of Hope

Recently the Sarasota County Commissioners have begun questioning the school board decision to demolish the Rudolph buildings on the Riverview Campus.

We are pleased that the County Commissioners have heard the community concern (and national and international concern) that we have been able to generate.

An article in the Pelican Press indicates:

Last week, the county commission directed its legal staff to research Florida statutes and determine if there are provisions to block a Sarasota County School Board plan that would replace the 48-year structure with a new one by the autumn of 2009.

"There are a lot of people having heartburn over the Riverview situation," Commissioner Joe Barbetta said. "I heard about it during the recent election. We as a county should request a historic evaluation of that building and not wait until it is too late."

In the same issue of the Pelican is an editorial concerning the current leadership in Sarasota. It specifically addresses issues with City Commissioners in Sarasota. The title of the editorial: "Is Anybody in City Hall Listening?"

We would ask the Sarasota School Board the same question. Is any body listening, listening to the people that live here in Sarasota?

The editorial is based on a recently released citizen survey, and the residents are not happy. They are not happy with the direction that the city has taken. It is not much of a stretch to say that much of the same dissatisfaction resides with recent school board and superintendent decisions.

We are happy that the County Commissioners are tuned in to the residents and have taken steps to review the historical resource value of the Rudolph buildings. Hooray! We applaud these commissioners.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Restoration of Rudolph Building at Yale

A recent article in the NY Times highlights the restoration work at Yale's campus.

The article says in part:

Yet the project should also be understood as part of a larger effort to reclaim a corner of the Yale campus that includes Paul Rudolph’s 1963 Art and Architecture building, now being renovated by Charles Gwathmey, and the construction of an addition for art history students across the street. As a whole, these works address one of the most volatile periods in American architecture and remind us of how history is constantly being challenged and revised.

Charles Gwathmey recently visited Sarasota and toured the Riverview Campus where Rudolph's first public building now faces demolition.

Connecticut Ruddolph Building Faces Demolition

Another Paul Rudolph building faces demolition. This time it is a residence in Westport, CT

The NY Times describes this possibility.

Docomomo, a publication aimed at documentation and conservation of modern buildings, also has publicized this possibility.

There is a discussion of the demolition potential at WestportNow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Recognizing Riverview

My Florida History is a blog that comments on Florida's history and culture. Many fascinating articles can be found. A recent post describes our efforts and pointed out some of the references to the Sarasota School of Architecture. Take a look.

Friday, December 08, 2006

New York Team Films Documentary On Riverview High School

The Metropolis Team of five people, from New York City, was in Sarasota for four days last week filming a Documentary on Riverview High School, which is scheduled for demolition. The school was designed by Internationally recognized Architect Paul Rudolph.

Metropolis, based in New York for 25 years and distributed Internationally, is one of the world’s outstanding publications - “in reviewing Contemporary Life through DESIGN”.

Metropolis EDITOR IN CHIEF, Susan Szenasy, learned of Riverview High School’s proposed demolition from the American Institute of Architects’ Headquarters in Washington and visited the Riverview Site. The Documentary is to investigate the following :

  • How a Community could allow such an Internationally important building to be up for demolition.
  • How the Save Riverview Committee, a broad-based, grass roots effort, is working to save this important part of the Community's Architectural Legacy.

The Metropolis Team filmed interviews with the following leaders of the Save Riverview Committee : Mollie Cardamone (former Mayor of Sarasota), Lee Byron (former Chairperson of the Sarasota County School Board) and Carl Abbott FAIA Architect / Planner.

Others Committee Members interviewed : Architect Mark Smith, the new President of the State of Florida American Institute of Architects (Mark is a graduate of Riverview High School and has a daughter in school there now); John Howey in Tampa, author of the MIT publication Sarasota School of Architecture; Joe King (author of a book on Rudolph buildings in Florida) and Guy Peterson FAIA (a graduate of Riverview High School). To be interviewed are Charles Gwathmey FAIA in New York and other Design Experts throughout the Country.

BMK Architects' Darryl McClain, head of the firm who is designing the new school to replace Riverview High School, was interviewed ; Dr. Norris, Superintendent of the Sarasota County School Board, refused to be interviewed.

The Metropolis Documentary on Riverview High School will be shown across America as a guide for other Communities.

Susan Szanasy has written an editorial titled "What We Value" that includes a description of the effort to save the Rudolph courtyard buildings:

Rudolph’s experimental architecture can pass on what he learned about observing climate (subtropical), terrain (the building was sited to blend in with the surrounding pines), and culture (progressive Modern buildings represented the aspirations of the county as a center for the arts).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Follow Up On School Superintendent

A couple articles describe the turmoil surrounding the superintendent.

Today the superintendent announced he would like to stay. The SHT news item says:

Norris decides to remain as superintendent
By LIZ BABIARZ
liz.babiarz@heraldtribune.com
Gary Norris announced Wednesday afternoon he will stay on as superintendent of Sarasota County schools to bring stability to the district and finish work on his reform plan.

Norris will now start negotiating a new contract with the School Board. He said he intends to remain in his position for at least seven years, until he retires.

Norris abruptly resigned in September, citing obstacles within the district to his plans for reform.

“My goal is to stop this revolving door of superintendents and return consistency and stability to the school district,” Norris said. “I am sorry for the turmoil my resignation caused these past few months but I hope the lessons learned will make us wiser.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

School Superintendent Performance Is Reviewed

Sarasota's School Board is reviewing the performance of the School Superintendent, Dr Gary Norris. Readers of this blog may be aware that Dr Norris made the decision to demolish the Riverview Rudolph buildings and convinced the school board this was the direction the board must take.

This, and other examples of his top down decision making management style has become an issue throughout the community. Lack of opportunity for citizen input prior to decision making can lead to poor decisions.

Read the Sarasota Herald Tribune article about this issue.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Riverview Timeline

Established by the SAVE Riverview Committee based on review of Sarasota County School District records, acessed under Florida open records law.

2002... Committee formed by Tom Sheeran, Ass’t. Superintendent. Stated opinion that build new was more cost efficient. Suggests canvassing Alumni & RHS Foundation Re: “Historic” value of buildings.

May 2002... Long Range Facilities Review report by Barger+Dean Architects, Inc. (approx. 480 +/- pages) [No record of this report was in the School Board files, the report was obtained from another source]

15 Sep 04... Letter from Stu Barger stating rehabilitation of Rudolph buildings recommended.

21 Oct 04... BMK memo documents minutes of meeting with Dr. Norris where his concept is stated as, “Riverview High School should be rebuilt as a new high school, not remodeled or renovated.”

1 Jun 05... Riverview Planning Group [School Staff] established.

25 Jul 05.... RHS Planning Group meeting outline states.”Buildings that will remain - just #28.” Building #28 is the Rudolph Building]

20 Sep 05... BMK contract date for “Riverview High School - Replacement”.

22 Sep 05... BMK memo sets 5-6 Oct 05 meeting date to set “goals” of new RHS, sets 19-20 Oct 05 meeting w/ Perkins/Will, sets 28-29 Dec 05 deadline to complete Phase 1 - Schematic Design.

19 Oct 05... BMK letter to Chuck Collins recommending demolition of RHS Re: economics.

16-17 Nov 05... Faculty, Parent, & Neighborhood meetings - all presented “new RHS facility”. Meetings described as “walk-thru” in interoffice memo. [This was described to SAVE Riverview Committee members as a "public meeting" but was in reality a walk through, show and tell event not publicized to the wider community]

12 Dec 05... BMK power point presentation w/ Rudolph buildings demolished and the new school to the west with parking where the Rudolph building were.

25 Jan 06... Historic review of Riverview by Dave Baber, BMK, and Perkins/Will scheduled. [No minutes or notes found in files.]

7 Feb 06... School Board meeting scheduled for approval of RHS schematic design.

22 Feb 06... Letter to Bob Early, Assoc. Superintendent, from Dave Baber, Sarasota County History Center, stating that “Riverview High School is an important historic resource”. “The Historic Preservation Chapter of Apoxsee states that it is the goal of Sarasota County to identify, evaluate, document, and promote the protection of its prehistoric and historic resources.”

1 Mar 06... Memo from Sarasota County Development Services to Bob Early Re: Sarasota County Code on Historic Preservation.

31 Mar 06... National Trust for Historic Preservation writes Dr. Todd to urge the school board to save Riverview and includes information on grants.

14 Apr 06... 1st meeting with Dr. Norris, Dr. Todd, and SAVE Riverview Committee.

17 Apr 06... Florida Trust for Historic Preservation writes Dr. Norris to “encourage the Sarasota County School District to reconsider their decision to demolish Riverview High School”.

28 Apr 06... 2nd meeting with Dr. Norris, Dr. Todd, Bob early, and SAVE Riverview Committee.

1 May 06... Dr. Norris directs BMK to hire Cook to do the construction cost analysis. Addendum to architectural contract for $40,000.

11 May 06... BMK letter to the Office of Education Facilities describing the project as the demolition of Riverview High School and the construction of a new school.

30 May 06... Letter from FDOE stating buildings 1-5,7-9,11,12,13-20,23-25 can be demolished. Buildings 6,10,21,27,28,30-33,50-54,56-58, & 86 to remain.

20 Jun 06... Sarasota County School Board votes unanimously on a plan that demolishes Riverview High School.

28 Jul 06... Letter from FDOE concurring with BMK that buildings 1-25, & 86 to be demolished. Building 21 remains till 2009. Buildings 27,28,30-33,50-54,56,57,58 to remain.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Visitors

Last week Nepal Asatthawasi of the Paul Rudolph Foundation.

Nepal and her husband Michael were able to view many of the Rudolph and other Sarasota School of Architecture projects in Sarasota. She wrote:

We managed to see every Paul Rudolph house listed in the Modern Sarasota tour and made it to Riverview before the sun set. We interacted with some of the students, who had mixed opinions about the building and managed to get a very clear spatial sense of the institution.

As noted elsewhere in this blog and in other sources, the Riverview building has been poorly maintained as well as having had some of the important features removed over the years.

Our hope is to rehabilitate the building so it can be a true example of Rudolph's architecture for years to come, as well as serving the very important purpose of providing an excellent learning space.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Can we afford to lose Rudolph’s legacy?

From Metropolis Magazine:


What We Value
Two lessons in historic Modernism: What will we learn from them?
By Susan S. Szenasy
Posted November 8, 2006


Next spring when the Connecticut countryside turns green again, visitors will take field trips to the Philip Johnson compound in New Canaan. On this formerly private property, accessible only to the architect’s 300 or so best friends, they will examine Johnson’s iconic Glass House, his neoclassical folly, and his sculptural buildings, as well as a traditional New England shingle-style house (see page 81). There will be lessons learned about nature as wallpaper, clipped and rearranged to make the best vistas from behind the glass walls. There will be occasion to meander through the late architect’s restless form-making adventures during the second half of the twentieth century as well as examine what he read, find evidence of his glamorous guests in the archives, and in general, have a pleasant day in the country.

Another important piece of architecture, in another climate, may not make it to next spring. Paul Rudolph’s 48-year-old Riverview High School, in Sarasota, Florida, is scheduled for demolition; a parking lot is to take its place. Though advocates for the Sarasota School of Architecture—a group of Modernists who practiced there after the Second World War—are making every effort to save the iconic school, its future seems doubtful. Its breakthrough features, such as an ingenious system of cross-ventilation, concrete sunshades, and daylighting, have been subverted through decades of “modernizing.” In fact the Rudolph design is now barely recognizable. But, the old school’s ­advocates say, the wounds can be healed and the building brought back to teach a vital lesson of connections between people, architecture, and nature.

In 1958, when Riverview was built, “there was a great deal of interest in natural ventilation, which is what the design is predicated on,” Bert Brosmith told HeraldTribune.com earlier this year. “The elevated areas over the walkways permitted air to come down through the glass in the walkways and through the glass in the outside wall. That was the idea. In those days it seemed to work,” added the architect, who worked in Rudolph’s Florida office at the time. These days the precedents established at Riverview, as well as other regional Modern buildings in the county, offer helpful lessons to current practitioners who are challenged to find new ways to save energy and realign their buildings with the natural world. Rudolph’s experimental architecture can pass on what he learned about observing climate (subtropical), terrain (the building was sited to blend in with the surrounding pines), and culture (progressive Modern buildings represented the aspirations of the county as a center for the arts).

Johnson reinterpreted socially conscious Euro­pean Modernism as the International Style, which could fit into any climate and many cultures. Glass buildings work very well in Connecticut and in the subtropics when the AC can blast 24/7 and you forget about the rich variations of seasonal shifts in temperature and humidity. Rudolph’s work teaches us to pay attention to these things and learn how to use them well. It looks like Johnson’s legacy will endure. Can we afford to lose Rudolph’s legacy?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Recent Riverview Pictures

These are current pictures of the Paul Rudolph designed building at Riverview High School. While changes have been made to the original building, the basic design remains true.

More pictures can be seen here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Homage?

Homage = respect or reverence paid or rendered

Following is an excellent article recently published in Sarasota's Pelican Press:

Superintendent sees new Riverview design as homage to Rudolph
Group argues again for rehabilitation
BY RACHEL BROWN HACKNEY

Some people may feel the design BMK Architects of Sarasota has created for the new Riverview High School is an homage to the historic Paul Rudolph buildings on campus, which are recognized worldwide as examples of the Sarasota School of Architecture.

Others maintain that, homage or not, the Sarasota County School Board should be reconsidering preserving the primary Rudolph building, because rising construction costs make rehabilitation far more reasonable.

Darrell McLain, president of BMK, told the Pelican Press in an interview, "We're not trying to model our design after (the Rudolph) building at all." Still, he said, every effort will be made to enhance the views students will have of the central courtyard around which the new buildings will be erected and to allow as much daylight as possible into the school. The new Riverview High is set to be completed by the start of the 2009-2010 school year.

The design includes a lot of glass in the cafeteria, the media center and the stairways, McLain added. "You want [it] to feel open … [and be able to] see daylight, see some sun, some trees."

After viewing the design for the first time on Oct. 6, Superintendent Gary Norris told the Pelican, "I think the architects are trying to pay homage" to Rudolph, with extensive use of steel and "quite a bit of use of glass."

Approximately 50 percent of the primary Rudolph building on campus is glass, McLain said. The Florida Department of Education requires that 5 percent of any new school structure be glass, he added; his firm didn't want to use a higher percentage because all that glass has to be hurricane resistant.

McLain pointed out that the new high school will be a hurricane shelter capable of handling between 2,500 and 3,000 people.

When contacted about the design, former Sarasota Mayor Mollie Cardamone, a member of the group that wants to save the Rudolph structures, told the Pelican, "I think that the new cost figures put the school board in a position of reusing the Rudolph buildings." She added that it was "foolish to spend so much money" on a design "that may have some of the glass and light fixtures" when the historic building could be "cleaned up and dressed up" to remain part of the school.

During an Oct. 10 work session, the school board learned the new school could end up costing $135 million - $40 million more than the previous estimate the board had seen.

Norris reminded the board members that the earlier figure covered construction only. The latest figure, he said, included the $5 million in design fees as well as the expenses for furniture and new technology. The cost per square foot for school construction had risen from $165 in January to $227, Norris noted in an interview."

You'll never make me believe that the steel and concrete and glass in those old buildings should be turned into rubble for a parking lot," Cardamone told the Pelican.

Sarasota's Lee Byron, member of the Save Riverview Committee and former school board member, said in an interview she found it sad that the current board members "really didn't get the information they needed" in making a determination about the costs of new structures in comparison with rehabilitating the old ones.

Sarasota architect Carl Abbott had found numerous errors in a document provided to the board in June by a consultant who had analyzed the various designs for an updated Riverview High, Byron pointed out.

The Save Riverview Committee issued a formal statement to the Pelican. It began, "In response to your report that Dr. Norris called the new Riverview High School design an 'homage to Paul Rudolph' we must regretfully term his remark an insult to the intelligence of our community."

The Sarasota School of Architecture marked a high point in the cultural history of the Sarasota area and is recognized throughout the world as a key element in the development of modern American architecture. As such, the buildings created by Rudolph and his colleagues are studied and appreciated everywhere. The buildings proposed for the Riverview site are in no way related to the vision expressed by Paul Rudolph - a vision of light and air, of our relationship to nature, of the joy of learning in the modern world."

The statement concluded, "We have heard that Dr. Norris has suggested placing a plaque 'honoring' Paul Rudolph in the lobby of the new school. To do so would be analogous to placing a statue of Frank Lloyd Wright in the parking lot of a new Wal-Mart to replace the Guggenheim Museum."

"When preserving [the Rudolph building] could also save money," Byron said, "I don't know how [the school board member] won't consider this again." She added, "I just don't think the board is aware of the outcry that will happen when the bulldozers come in to tear [the main Rudolph building] down."


Mollie Cardamone, Lee Byron and Carl Abbott are all members of the SAVE Riverview Committee.

Umbrella House

From Harold Bubil's blog at the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

The Umbrella House was the scene of an architectural summit of sorts Friday morning. Veteran architects of the Sarasota School were joined at the iconic Lido Shores residence by current Sarasota modernists Carl Abbott and Guy Peterson, as well as New York architect Charles Gwathmey, for a tour of the Paul Rudolph-designed house on Westway Drive.

On the upstairs bridge that joins the bedrooms, the architects gathered to inspect a model of the house that shows the sun-shading "umbrella" still in place. The architects examined documents related to the house's construction and the design of the umbrella.

A picture showing the architects and the model is at the SHT link.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Charles Gwathmey Visits Riverview

Members of the Save Riverview group met with Charles Gwathmey today at Riverview High School.

Shown are Carl Abbott (architect), Charles Gwathmey, Guy Peterson (architect), Richard Storm (architecture critic) and Lee Byron (former Sarasota School Board member).

Gwathmey was visiting Sarasota to participate in an awards ceremony honoring Abbott, Peterson and other architects. One of his current projects is restoration of Paul Rudolph's School of Art and Architecture Building at Yale University.

Gwathmey had previously written to the Sarasota School Board urging them to reconsider the decision to demolish Rudolph's Riverview High building.

Gwathmey said in his letter : "Riverview High School is a historic building and modernism is now a critical and legitimate period in the continuum. The architectural legacy of the "Sarasota School" is a laboratory for students and architects, and Riverview is a pertinent, iconic representative work.

The building also pioneered "green architecture" initiatives, that were both intuitive and visionary, that could be restored, refined and reinforced as examples of environmental awareness and sensitivity."

Monday, October 23, 2006

In the News

The following appeared in the on line version of Building Design - an United kingdom architectural magazine.

An international campaign to save a Florida school designed by Paul Rudolph is gathering pace on this side of the Atlantic following interventions from the Twentieth Century Society and Norman Foster.

By Ash Dosanjh

Foster, who alongside former partner Richard Rogers was tutored by Rudolph, has written to the school’s governors asking them to save the Riverview High School in Sarasota, completed in 1958 and a prime example of American modernist architecture.

He called Rudolph “the single most formative force in my life”. The Twentieth Century Society has also intervened in the American saga an unprecedented move prompted by the building’s unique worth.

“Despite its present state of disrepair, the underlying structure of this strikingly innovative building is sound. It could easily be restored to its original condition,” Foster’s letter said. “As even [a consultants report commissioned by the governors] has indicated, the ‘rehabilitation’ of the Rudolph buildings should be incorporated into the future of the Riverview site... Modern building technologies allows us now, more easily than ever, to adapt older structures to moderns use.”

The Save Riverview Group, which has been set up to fight for the building, has called for the rehabilitation of some of the Rudolph building structures, rather than the total restoration of all the buildings on the campus. It will soon be seeking the support of the RIBA. A complete rebuild would cost $135 million (£72 million), whereas restoration costs are estimated at just under $15 million (£8 million).

“I have been so upset about the state of the building,” said Carl Abbott, a founding member of the group and former schoolfellow of Foster’s.

“It’s been abandoned over the years and apparently maintenance has been withheld for at least a couple of years. But all these things can be rehabilitated. The structure of the building itself is in wonderful shape.”

The Sarasota School Board voted 5-0 earlier this year to demolish the building, which they believe fails on maintenance and safety grounds.

Florida Trust Endangered Site Listing

Florida Trust For Historic Preservation has listed Riverview High School, Sarasota as one of the 11 most endangered sites in Florida for 2006.

http://www.floridatrust.org/endangered

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Riverview Cost Estimates Climb Dramatically

The projected cost for the new Riverview High School (assumes tear down of all existing buildings) has dramatically increased to $135, 000,000. This is discussed in a story in Sarasaota's Herald Tribune:

The globalization of the construction industry, with high demand for steel and concrete from China, has fueled construction inflation in recent years. But while many school districts in Florida are dealing with double-digit increases in the price of construction materials, Sarasota County has been hit particularly hard because it is a coastal community.

Florida building code says the district must construct schools able to withstand a higher wind speed, and that adds significantly to the bottom line, said the district's construction services director, Charles Collins.

School district officials hope the price of construction materials drops before they break ground on the project this spring.

The new school will be built on the current campus while students attend the old building. The 1958 Paul Rudolph structure, which architects and local developers petitioned to save this year, will be demolished once the new school is finished.

The architects associated with Save Riverview have long maintained that there is great value in the concrete, steel and glass already in place in the Rudolph building.

This latest cost estimate shows that this value is very important and must be retained. We are working with the school board to make sure they are aware of the value.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Save Riverview Efforts Continue


The following was sent to all the AIA Florida members yesterday:

The SAVE Riverview Committee in Sarasota continues its efforts to preserve a school that has set a standard for architecture in Florida. Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School is important to Sarasota's history and a significant part of the architectural legacy of American buildings, as well as an international landmark of 20th century architecture.

The Committee has received support from many members of the community, state and nation.

The National AIA Board of Directors has drafted and submitted a resolution to "...request that the Sarasota County School Board rescind its previous vote to demolish the original Paul Rudolph Riverview High School buildings and direct their architects to make a thorough and accurate evaluation of rehabilitating the historic buildings and incorporating them into the new school design."

Additionally, all state legislators have been asked to support the rehabilitation of this landmark. Several have or are in the process of sending letters and expressing their concerns about losing such a historic building, including Riverview High School graduate Rep. Gayle Harrell (R) Port St. Lucie.

AIA Florida's Efforts
AIA Florida continues the effot in conjunction with the SAVE Riverview Committee, the AIA Gulf Coast Component and AIA at the national and international levels. Read the AIA Florida Resolution

You Can Help
Please write letters to the Sarasota School Board and contact any state legislators in your area. Please provide copies of all correspondence to Michele Straw at mstraw@aiafla.org.

School Board Contact
Chair Dr. Carol Todd
1960 Landings Boulevard
Sarasota, FL 34231
[Carol_Todd@sarasota.k12.fl.us]

Monday, September 11, 2006

National AIA Resolution to Support Saving Riverview

The American Institute of Architects, representing 76,000 architects, urges the Sarasota County School Board to rescind their vote to demolish the historic Rudolph building on the Riverview campus:

RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS SUPPORTING THE EFFORT TO SAVE THE HISTORIC PAUL RUDOLPH DESIGNED RIVERVIEW HIGH SCHOOL IN SARASOTA, FLORIDA FROM DEMOLITION

WHEREAS, unique historic works of architecture create the cultural character of every community and are the focus of civic pride in every city; and

WHEREAS, Riverview High School, designed by Paul Rudolph in 1958, is an important part of Sarasota built history, an outstanding example of the modern architectural movement known as the Sarasota School of Architecture, a significant part of the architectural legacy of American buildings, and an international landmark of 20th century architecture; and

WHEREAS, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation has cited the Riverview Complex as one of 11 most endangered buildings in Florida and eligible for a listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and

WHEREAS, the Riverview buildings are structurally sound, with their current physical state reflecting a lack of historic sensitivity in past remodeling and a lack of proper maintenance over the years; and

WHEREAS, in a September 2004 memorandum to Sarasota County School Board Superintendent Dr. Norris from BMK Architects concluded in their extensive Long-Range Facilities Review of Riverview High School, lan on replacing all existing buildings on campus with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated and

WHEREAS, rehabilitating Riverview High School would bring the buildings up to today technological and academic standards, create a safe and secure environment while preserving its historic presence; and

WHEREAS, rehabilitating Riverview High School would be cost-efficient through federal funding, would conserve construction resources while promoting sustainability, and would not increase the time line for construction as temporary classrooms are already part of the new construction plan; and

WHEREAS, the Sarasota County School Board voted on 20 June 2006 to proceed with plans to demolish the historic Paul Rudolph designed Riverview High School; and

WHEREAS, the Sarasota County School Board has diligently worked in the past to save other historically significant buildings, including the original Sarasota High School.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS AND ITS BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

Section 1. That the American Institute of Architects Board of Directors, representing its 76,000 plus members, request that the Sarasota County School Board rescind its previous vote to demolish the original Paul Rudolph Riverview High School buildings and direct their architects to make a thorough and accurate evaluation of rehabilitating the historic buildings and incorporating them into the new school design.

Section 2. That the members of the American Institute of Architects, and its Board of Directors support the SAVE Riverview Committee in their efforts to preserve Sarasota history and an international renowned architectural treasure.

Section 3. That copies of this Resolution shall be forwarded to the Sarasota County School Board, Sarasota Board of County Commissioners, all Florida State Legislators, and the Governor of the State of Florida.

Section 4. That this Resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption.

ADOPTED by the American Institute of Architects Board of Directors this 9th day of September, 2006.

_______________________

Kate Schwennsen, FAIA

President,

The American Institute of Archtitects.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Save Riverview Resolution to be Introduced at Florida AIA Annual Convention

A Sarasota representative (Mark Smith) to the AIA Florida Annual Convention will intrduce the following rersolution to the attendees for consideration.


RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION OF THE AIA FLORIDA BOARD OF DIRECTORS SUPPORTING THE EFFORT TO SAVE THE HISTORIC PAUL RUDOLPH DESIGNED RIVERVIEW HIGH SCHOOL IN SARASOTA, FLORIDA FROM DEMOLITION

WHEREAS, unique historic works of architecture create the cultural character of every community and are the focus of civic pride in every city; and

WHEREAS, Riverview High School, designed by Paul Rudolph in 1958, is an important part of Sarasota built history, an outstanding example of the modern architectural movement known as the Sarasota School of Architecture, a significant part of the architectural legacy of American buildings, and an international landmark of 20th century architecture; and

WHEREAS, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation has cited the Riverview Complex as one of 11 most endangered buildings in Florida and eligible for a listing in the National Register of Historic Places; and

WHEREAS, the Riverview buildings are structurally sound, with their current physical state reflecting a lack of historic sensitivity in past remodeling and a lack of proper maintenance over the years; and

WHEREAS, in a September 2004 memorandum to Sarasota County School Board Superintendent Dr. Norris from BMK Architects concluded in their extensive Long-Range Facilities Review of Riverview High School, lan on replacing all existing buildings on campus with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated and

WHEREAS, rehabilitating Riverview High School would bring the buildings up to today technological and academic standards, create a safe and secure environment while preserving its historic presence; and

WHEREAS, rehabilitating Riverview High School would be cost-efficient through federal funding, would conserve construction resources while promoting sustainability, and would not increase the time line for construction as temporary classrooms are already part of the new construction plan; and

WHEREAS, the Sarasota County School Board voted on 20 June 2006 to proceed with plans to demolish the historic Paul Rudolph designed Riverview High School; and

WHEREAS, the Sarasota County School Board has diligently worked in the past to save other historically significant buildings, including the original Sarasota High School.


NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE AIA FLORIDA BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Section 1. That the AIA Florida Board of Directors request that the Sarasota County School Board rescind its previous vote to demolish the original Paul Rudolph Riverview High School buildings and direct their architects to make a thorough and accurate evaluation of rehabilitating the historic buildings and incorporating them into the new school design.

Section 2. That the AIA Florida Board of Directors support the SAVE Riverview Committee in their efforts to preserve Sarasota history and an international renowned architectural treasure.

Section 3. That copies of this Resolution shall be forwarded to the Sarasota County School Board, Sarasota Board of County Commissioners, all Florida State Legislators, and the Governor of the State of Florida.

Section 4. That this Resolution shall take effect immediately upon adoption.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Saving A Rudolph Home in Sarasota

There is a nice article about Sarasota's Martie Lieberman in the on-line Metropolis Magazine. Martie is the co-founder of Sarasota's Architectural Foundation


An enlightened real estate broker lovingly restores a Paul Rudolph house with the goal of preserving a masterpiece—and making a profit.

The Cohen House, in Sarasota, Florida, could have easily been a teardown. Designed by Paul Rudolph in 1955, the 2,300-square-foot house—sited on a double waterfront lot on the barrier island of Siesta Key—is about half the size of newer homes nearby.

This shows what can be done when an owner is enlightened andhas a sense of Sarasota's history and architectural legacy. We applaud Martiefor her endeavors.

We only wish that the Sarasota School Board had some enlightenment and a similar sense of Sarasota's architectural legacy - maybe they would not have made the decision to replace Rudolph's Riverview High School buildings with a parking lot.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

World Renowned Architect: SAVE Riverview

Article published in the SHT Jun 24, 2006
by Harold Bubil

Lord Foster weighs in on Riverview

The short list of the world's greatest architects would have to include Norman Foster. Based in London, he is among the most decorated people in his profession, and has done so much for Britain that he has been knighted by the queen and made a lord.

The Pritzker Prize-winning architect's works include the Millennium Bridge in London, Hong Kong's huge airport and the rehabilitation of the Reichstag in Berlin. Our Real Estate section on Sunday will include a feature on the new Hearst Tower by Foster and Partners, his 700-person, 18-office firm.

So when a letter by Lord Foster crosses my desk, it merits close attention and consideration. This one is dated June 21 and addressed to the Sarasota County School Board, two days after that panel voted 5-0 to tear down and replace Riverview High School's existing buildings:"I am writing to lend my support of the campaign to preserve Riverview High School from the impending threat of destruction," the letter says.

"Designed by Paul Rudolph, undoubtedly one of the great American architects of the second half of the twentieth century, it is a building that has served as an inspiration not only for me, but for generations of architects."

Despite its present state of disrepair, the underlying structure of this strikingly innovative building is sound. It could easily be restored to its original condition and brought back to life as a focal point for the expanding school campus. As even BMK Architects' report into the school has indicated, the 'rehabilitation' of the Rudolph buildings should be incorporated into the future planning of the Riverview site. This point is supported by the fact that modern building technologies allow us now, more easily than ever, to adapt older structures to modern use."

For many of us, growing up in the 1950s, the glass and steel buildings of the Modern Movement embodied a sense of optimism and liberation. Latterly, however, some people have come to revile these buildings as much as we revered them. But we should remember that such perceptions change with time, and we should not allow the vagaries of architectural taste to threaten the future of a building of undoubted architectural quality."

The extent to which we, as a society, can identify our best architectural works, and then work to preserve, adapt and maintain them, seems to me an index of our ability to forever improve our physical environment."I would therefore strongly encourage the School Board of Florida's Sarasota County to re-examine their decision to demolish this wonderful, iconic building and instead to make every effort to preserve it."

It should be noted that Foster is a friend and former college classmate and colleague of Carl Abbott, the Sarasota architect who has been leading the effort to save Riverview.

About 30 years ago, Abbott took Foster to Riverview during the latter's visit to Sarasota.

Critics of the building, including parents and teachers who have spoken out about its current deplorable condition, will argue that Foster has never had to teach classes in the building or deal with the rust, water stains and mold.

But when an architect of his stature says such a building can and should be saved, his opinion should be given careful study before the demolition company is called in.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Norman Foster's Letter to Sarasota School Board

This is a "picture" of Norman Foster's letter to the school board. If you click on the letter you sgouild get a latger and clearer view.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Message From AIA

They know not what they do...

The Sarasota School Board voted 5-0 to demolish Paul Rudolph's original Riverview High School buildings on Tuesday night.

The presentation from the Save Riverview side was excellent. The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) and the Sarasota Historic Alliance both offered funds to the school board toward paying the architects to do further studies to save the Rudolph buildings. John Howey, FAIA and Joe King, AIA, both of which have written books on Rudolph's work, gave compelling historical reasons on the importance of the Riverview buildings. Guy Peterson, FAIA, Riverview grad, told of how his firm has recently renovated Rudolph's Revere House and added an addition that compliments Rudolph's work because of the owner's insight of its historical importance. Carl Abbott, FAIA presented a diagrammatic site plan developed by his committee that illustrated how the existing Rudolph buildings could be worked with a new school design that satisfied the school board's requirement of centralized parking and single entrance onto the campus.

On behalf of AIA Florida, President-Elect Mark Smith, AIA gave a plea that these historic buildings, once gone, can never be replaced, and that these historic buildings belong to the entire world not just Sarasota.

A handful of teachers and parents spoke on how they wanted a new school. Many could not seem to understand that saving the school and designing a 21st century school were not mutually exclusive.

Mark Smith, AIA commented that, “It is extremely disappointing and disheartening to watch the irreplaceable be deemed irrelevant. To watch our past be disregarded. To watch history be erased.”

Thank you to the Save Riverview Committee for your valiant efforts.

It is unfortunate that the School Board members could not see the value in restoration and preserving a piece of Florida history.

email: aiaflanews@aiafla.org
phone: 850-222-7590
web: http://www.aiafla.org

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

News Articles About School Board Decision

Here are links to articles about the Riverview decision in the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Riverview to be torn down

Construction Options

Board criticizes schools chief

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

School Board Decision

Tonight the Sarasota School Board voted 5-0 to demolish the Riverview school, including the Rudolph buildings.

We are all very disappointed.

Letter To The School Board

20 June 2006

SAVE – RIVERVIEW HIGH SCHOOL (The Historic Rudolph Campus)

After studying the Estimator’s Report dated 16 May 2006, we feel that both time and money can be saved by incorporating the Historic Rudolph Buildings into the new School Complex. We are not attempting to save all of the Historic Rudolph Buildings.

One of the School Board Members stated that our group should have responded earlier. The first time we heard of the proposed demolition was in the February article in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Until that time it was our understanding that the School Board was rehabilitating Riverview as outlined in the letter of September, 2004 to Dr. Norris from Stu Barger of BMK Architects stating “… Plan on replacing all existing buildings on campus over time with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated.”

Our group first met with Dr. Norris and Dr. Todd on 14 April and reviewed the cost savings and grants that are available with the Historic Designation and Rehabilitation of the Historic Rudolph Structures. There are many examples of successfully rehabilitated educational facilities throughout the United States with historic landmark designation.

The Estimator’s Report listed Restoration not Rehabilitation of the Historic Rudolph Structures. There is a substantial difference in cost and time between Restoration (Estimator’s Report) and Rehabilitation (what we are requesting). The Estimator’s Report makes no mention of any of the Historic Designation credits we reviewed. Why was the Estimator’s Report carried out without this important cost consideration and without input from either the Sarasota County History Center or from the Save Riverview group? Additionally, we have found inconsistencies in the Estimator’s Report that should to be clarified.

Following the Workshop, we have spoke with Darrell McLain of BMK Architects and he confirmed that his firm was instructed to estimate Restoration not Rehabilitation. Under Restoration, the buildings would be fully restored to their 1959 condition (Option C Page 114), which is significantly more expensive than Rehabilitation. Per Option C, when we asked for the breakdown of replacing all of the glass, we were told that a separate figure is not available, Darrell agreed that the existing glass appears to be tempered glass and that with Rehabilitation may not need to be replaced but instead fully attached with proper storm film applied.

We asked for a breakdown on reconstructing all doorways to meet ADA requirements and were told this would not be necessary with Rehabilitation, as the interior would be gutted. Eliminating the Restoration of both the glass and doorways and many other Restoration items will produce millions of dollars in cost savings.

Regarding time frame, with reference to the project Construction Phasing as outlined in the Estimator’s Report, there are other phasing sequences that could save significant construction time. For example, all students could be initially housed in portables (a clean, safe environment). Rehabilitation of the Historic Rudolph Structures and the new school construction could then begin at the same time. The Rehabilitation should take less time to complete, and most students would be located in clean, safe, Rehabilitated structures before new construction is completed. (The original cafeteria building would remain functional until the new cafeteria is completed; it would then be Rehabilitated as Administration, etc.). This sequence of phasing could save substantial time and money.

As Andrew Stephens, a recent Riverview graduate, stated last Tuesday at the Workshop, Riverview does have the appearance of a “ghetto”. The Press and members of our group toured Riverview with Principal Nook following the Tuesday Workshop. We agree there are problems – mold, mildew, fumes from the science room, rust, a cabinet fell in the science room (not a wall but a cabinet) - - all of these are maintenance and equipment problems, they have nothing to do with the structure of the building. The structure of the Historic Rudolph Building appears to be very sound.

As you know, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation has cited the Riverview Complex as one of the eleven most endangered buildings in Florida and also sited its eligibility for Historic Designation in the National Register of Historic Places. Sarasota County is acclaimed for its cultural assets ; the Historic Riverview High School is an important part of Sarasota’s built history and a significant part of the Architectural Legacy of America.

We are requesting that you direct BMK Architects to integrate the Historic Rudolph Buildings into construction of the new School Complex and estimate the cost of Rehabilitation instead of Restoration. We know that the Historic Riverview High School can be Rehabilitated so that our students can have the best of 21st century technology in buildings that both reflects our history and in a school that they deserve. Do not throw away these Historic Structures that have value and that also can yield possibly millions of dollars in financial grants.

Respectfully,

Save – Riverview High School Group

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Rudolph Buildings Can Work

Marty Fugate, Arts and Entertainment Editor of the Sarasota Observer, has written an insightful article in this week’s Observer.

He asks: "Why destroy a building? Because it no longer works. Every building has a job to perform. That’s why it was built."

The article is about the Rudolph buildings at Riverview High School at their potential demolition.

Fugate says "Rudolph’s campus had an open plan. Openness is cost-effective. His idea: cut down on energy costs with solar lighting and cooling from the wind via breezeways. Rudolph’s old ideas sound a lot like a very new idea called sustainability."

Today’s concepts of sustainability look at reuse of buildings. Rudolph’s buildings at Riverview have can accommodate different interior space design - basically the building are boxes that take advantage of the light and breezes of the campus location. Modification to suit today’s education needs is not only possible but shoud be cost effective.

"Understand Rudolph’s idea and you can make his building work. If not for a school, something new. If not today, then tomorrow", Fugate says.

We believe it can work in the proposed new campus plan. All that is needed is the opportunity. Although maintenance of the building has been lacking over the years, the building does work and given a chance it will continue to work for many years to come.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Letter to the Editor - SHT

Preserve the Rudolph collection

I write to encourage the Sarasota County School Board's support of a reuse solution for the Paul Rudolph portion of Riverview High School, in light of its historic and architectural significance locally, nationally and throughout the world.

While times and educational-facility needs change, those cultural lessons learned from the preservation of the significant aspects of our built environment only enhance the experience of the children of our community. Lessons of preservation and celebration of our past are not taught merely through books and videos, but through learning and living in the locations that made the news.

I attended classes in Rudolph's Sarasota High School building and was continually intrigued by the structure and why it was how it was. I could also never escape the feeling that it was not well maintained, even then, leading me to the conclusion as an adult that the lack of care and regard for these resources has, unfortunately, existed for quite some time.

In any event, I do not believe our community's children should go without modern educational amenities, or have to endure extended periods of construction. However, I also believe we would be doing them, and everyone, a disservice by destroying those buildings that help make our community unique, and which are a symbol of the art and innovation that were (and are) what make Sarasota a destination.

Progress and preservation are not mutually exclusive concepts. Isn't it quite the opportunity for the district to underscore this point, through the renovation and reuse of Riverview, in turn acknowledging the district's unique status as the owner of the single largest collection of Sarasota School of Architecture structures, and embarking on the path to being a leading steward of this legacy as well?

Thomas B. Luzier

Sarasota

[Letter to the editor - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - published 6/16/06]

News Reports of Riverview Workshop

News stories about Tuesday's school board meeting can be found here and here.

The school board will have a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday June 20. They will vote on the Riverview options at this meeting - unless the State of Florida Dept of Education has not yet respponded to the school board's appeal of the DOE decision that several recently constructed buildings (last 5 years or so) cannot be demolished. If this happens, a new plan to incorporate these buildings will need to be developed; this would be about a 30 day process.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Editorial From the Pelican Press

For history’s sake, Riverview must be saved

Plans to raze the old Paul Rudolph-designed Riverview High School in favor of new buildings have met with serious resistance from the community.

And with good reason.

Those of us who’ve lived here for some time have seen many such buildings – often sharing Riverview’s Sarasota School of Architecture connection – destroyed in the name of “progress.” It seems, especially lately, when some semblance of historical relevance – art, some call it – is on the left side of the scale and “progress” – money, some call it – is on the right, you can bet dollars to cornerstones the scale will lean starboard.

It’s time to put our feet down on the port side. And it may already be too late.

Long ago, before most of the Sarasota School of Architecture homes and buildings were razed and replaced with sun-blocking, view-swallowing monstrosities, Sarasota looked as though it was truly making a name for itself in the annals of modern architecture. The Sarasota School, as it was called, had gained proponents worldwide, and many of its design elements are still being used today in a wide variety of architectural applications.

Riverview High School is one of the few remaining tangible connections to that past – to what Sarasota could have been if the almighty dollar hadn’t supplanted art; if greed hadn’t eclipsed our sense of history, our sense of place.

This community should have enjoyed a lasting, living legacy with its Sarasota School of Architecture. Instead, the School and what it represented are rapidly becoming relics of the past. And remaining structures designed and built in this style are becoming rare as dinosaur bones.

The school district has already paid approximately $1.2 million for an in-depth facilities assessment by the firm 3D/International, or 3DI. Unfortunately – and this is really where they misstepped – the Paul Rudolph-designed structures were left out of the assessment because they were intended to be razed, no discussion necessary. This, despite a 2004 memorandum to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gary Norris from BMK Architects overviewing its extensive 2002 Long-Range Facilities Review on Riverview High School, which stated: “Plan on replacing all existing buildings on campus ... with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated.”

Because of this short-sightedness (which often leads to historical structures being destroyed), the school board agreed to pay an additional $30,000 to have the buildings added into the 3DI study after the fact (which includes travel expenses for consultants to do the work that should have been done initially). The school board was scheduled to hear the revised report on June 13.Regardless of the results – so long as the buildings are not deemed unsafe and beyond repair – every effort should be made to save the Paul Rudolph-designed structures and incorporate them in a forward-thinking manner into the layout, look and feel of the new school.

Then, former and present Riverview staff and alumni would really have something to be proud of, something much more than another paint-by-the-numbers school.

From the Pelican Press.

School Board Workshop

Today's Sarasota Herald Tribune coverage of the School Board Workshop discussion of Riverview options is given here. A short video and schematics of the options are linked in this article.

The schematic shown above is the option that incorporates some of the Rudolph buildings Those buildings are labeled numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6.

The schematic below shows the current campus layout. Here the Rudolph buildings are numbered 1 through 9.


Cost and time estimates given by BMK Architects (School Board architectural firm) indicate that demolition and building a new campus would cost $72M and take 3 years. The option to save the Rudolph buildings would cost $80M and take 4 1/2 years.

The SAVE Riverview group received the report Friday afternoon and had only a brief time to review the basis for the cost and time estimates. Even so, it was pointed out that the cost was based on restoring the Rudolph buildings to the original state and that a different staging strategy could save significant time.

The cost estimator agreed with these points. He indicated that his direction was to estimate the cost to restore the buildings to "original drawing" with required code upgrades.

The SAVE Riverview group has said all along that the objective was to rehabilitate the Rudolph buildings, keep their essential design and use available grant resources to save the buildings. Complete restoration had not been considered.

Tuesday's School Board Workshop

From SRQ Magazine's daily e-Newsletter:

[TALK] Riverview Debate Flares Up at School Board

BMK Architects presented six possibilities for the future of Riverview High School at a Sarasota County School Board workshop yesterday.

The discussion boiled down to whether the historic but dilapidated buildings designed by architect Paul Rudolph should be saved and rehabilitated or demolished and paved over. The discussion comes nearly a year after the school board began meeting on the issue. Since hiring BMK in September, the school board has veered in the direction of demolition. But earlier this spring a group of preservationists and architects known as Save Riverview convinced the board to consider incorporating the Rudolph buildings into the new campus. Meanwhile, parents and teachers at the school have said the buildings are moldy and don’t reflect the school’s instructional program. They want the school board to move forward with current plans for eliminating the Rudolph building after construction of the new campus is complete, which also happens to be the cheapest and fastest option. Both sides had an opportunity to speak at the workshop.

2006 Riverview graduate Andrew Stephens said students don’t care about the Rudolph structures and never will. Despite its many accomplishments, Stephens said his peers in the community consider Riverview a “ghetto school” because of its appearance. “Are we going to remain selfish for the sake of our own memories?” he asked, prompting an applause from others who support tearing the old buildings down.

Principal Linda Nook said the Rudolph buildings don’t meet either of the school’s two priorities for the long-awaited project: a campus based on multiple small learning centers and a single entry to the school to monitor student safety and security.

During an 18-minute presentation, members of Save Riverview said they aren’t advocating a full restoration of the Rudolph buildings but rather a rehabilitation that meets the needs of today’s students. “We do not expect the Riverview family to make sacrifices,” said architect Greg Hall. “We’re not asking you to take (the buildings) back to the 1950s.”

Although estimates provided by BMK show that saving the Rudolph buildings will cost at least $8 million more than demolishing them, Hall said those numbers are based on a complete restoration and could be scaled back as a rehabilitation project. Historic preservationist Lorrie Muldowney added that the buildings are eligible for state and federal grants that would also help make up the difference in price estimates.

“Passion surrounds this issue,” said Lee Byron, a former school board member speaking on behalf of Save Riverview. “I am not exaggerating when I say that the world as well as Sarasota is waiting for your decision.”

The school board will likely make a final decision about Riverview at its next meeting June 20.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Riverview Graduates Writes To The School Board

Honorable School Board Members,

I am proud to say that I was among the 1,500 or so students who were in attendance at Riverview when it first opened in September 1958. I went on to graduate in 1961, attended MJC for a couple of years, then enlisted in the Navy in 1965. During the next 39 years I lived in and/or visited a wide-ranging variety of locations (both foreign and domestic) from Hawai'i to Mediterranean seaports in France, Italy, Spain, Egypt, and Israel. During my Navy career I developed an appreciation of Fine Art and Architecture.

As a naive High School student, I had no idea of the uniqueness of the buildings which comprise my High School Alma Mater. Since moving back to Sarasota, however, I have come to realize what a treasure Mr. Paul Rudolph came up with when he designed the historic Riverview Campus. Last September, during the Reunion of "The Founding Five" classes, I was stunned and disappointed to learn that you all plan to demolish this rich architectural treasure. I urge you in the strongest possible terms to please reconsider this decision. There just has to be a way that the existing plant can be renovated and upgraded to meet modern building standards more cheaply than tearing it down and building a whole new plant. Please consider giving a fair analysis of any option which would save Mr. Rudolph's original buildings.

Thank you for your time,
Richard P. Sundstrom
4027 Condor Lane
Sarasota, FL 34232-4915

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sarasota Architectural Jewel

Article published in the Sarasota Herald Tribune Jun 9, 2006

Riverview High is a jewel in Sarasota's architectural legacy

The demolition drums are being pounded yet again in Sarasota with the accompanying litany that the doomed building in question -- Riverview High School -- is, pick one: in terrible condition, falling apart, beyond repair, an eyesore, obsolete, dangerous to be in, too expensive to renovate. We've heard it all before, and consequently Sarasota continues to be diminished as unique community.

Riverview High is not my alma mater. I went to Cardinal Mooney and Sarasota High, so I have no sentimental attachment to the school.

I do have an interest in buildings of historic importance, particularly those which are significant enough to have put Sarasota on the international map as a haven of talented modernist architects who derived inspiration from the beauty and ambience of what was a Gulf Coast paradise.Collectively, these men became known as Sarasota School architects, and of them, Paul Rudolph, the man responsible for Riverview High School, was the most talented -- a rising star in his field.

The group was mentored by an urbane and worldly gentleman (albeit controversial) named Philip Hiss, chairman of the Board of Public Instruction for Sarasota County. The first spurt of schools under the Hiss regime was started in 1955 and ended in 1959 with eight completed: Brookside, Alta Vista addition, Riverview, Fruitville addition, Englewood, Booker, Brentwood Elementary and Venice Junior High.

With their completion, the Sarasota County school system was recognized around the country for its innovative designs; the 1959 Architectural Forum lauded the county as having "the most exciting and varied group of new schools in the U.S."Riverview was Rudolph's first building. He had earlier distinguished himself with his singular home designs, of which the Revere Quality House that he did with Ralph Twitchell was nationally recognized. (A comprehensive account of Rudolph's work can be found in the book "Paul Rudolph, The Florida Houses" by Christopher Domin and Joseph King.)

After Rudolph left Sarasota, he chaired Yale's Architecture Department from 1957 until 1965, a stint he followed with some monumental and inspiring buildings around the country and in Singapore, Jakarta, and Hong Kong. He died in 1997.

The work of the members of the Sarasota School is of great national and international interest. It's not uncommon for visitors to come to the area searching for information and addresses of the remaining homes and buildings of these men.In Riverview High School, Sarasota has a blemished jewel that needs to be polished and saved. Its fate is in the hands of the School Board, which at this time seems more disposed to let it go than to expend the money and effort to save it.

Not too long ago, when there was talk that the 1926 Collegiate Gothic-style Sarasota High School might be razed, there was immediate and widespread public outcry. City Commissioner Mollie Cardamone said that high school, from which she was graduated, would be demolished over her dead body.

The support to save Riverview is growing. A number of concerned citizens, among them Cardamone, architect Carl Abbott and Janice Green of Save Our Sarasota, have banded together to lobby the School Board to maintain this important part of the Sarasota story.

The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is holding its Annual Conference in Sarasota in 2007. Interestingly, the theme is "Ringling to Rudolph -- Sarasota's Legacy of the Arts." Surely the group will want to tour Ca' d'Zan, the Revere Quality House and, of course, Riverview High School. I hope no one is put in the unenviable position of telling them that Riverview has been demolished.

Jeff LaHurd is a Sarasota author and historian.

Sarasota Herald Tribune Editorial

Article published Jun 8, 2006

High noon for Riverview

Desire for preservation must be weighed against students' needsIt's time to build a new Riverview High School. It's overcrowded, outdated and rundown. Most schools are expected to last 40 years. Riverview was built 48 years ago and has been modified and patched so many times it's a shadow of its former self.

At long last, change appears imminent. To make way for construction of a modern Sarasota County campus capable of handling a projected population of 2,900 students, portable classrooms have been packed into a small area away from the work site. Construction nets line the perimeter.

Students, parents and faculty might assume that the project is moving forward and that a new school, as promised, will open in two years.

But before work can begin, a major issue remains to be settled. Some architects, preservationists and alumni want one or more of the Riverview buildings that were designed by renowned Sarasota architect Paul Rudolph to be restored, citing the structures' architectural significance.

School Board workshop
The Sarasota County School Board will hold a workshop from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday in its chambers at 1980 Landings Blvd. to discuss the Riverview plans -- specifically a facilities assessment and a University of Florida professor's feasibility study on restoring some of the school's glass-and-steel structures. We hope this report provides specific cost comparisons, which should have been available earlier.

We urge anyone interested in this project to attend the workshop, though the School Board will not be taking public comment. The workshop is open to the public and will be telecast on Comcast Channel 20 the week of June 19.

The board could vote as soon as June 20 on the campus footprint.

Schools Superintendent Gary Norris and staff predict that saving one or more of the Rudolph buildings will double the time required to rebuild the campus, making students and teachers suffer through four or maybe five years of construction.

We sympathize with the preservationists' desire to save the Rudolph architecture, but at this point the most pressing question is: What's best for the students?

Burden is on the preservationists
Because the need to rebuild Riverview is universally accepted and has been discussed for years, the burden is on preservationists to make a case for saving some of the buildings. They should offer detailed information on what preservation would mean in terms of costs, how the buildings would be used, what construction codes would be affected by a historical designation and what impact the renovation would have on students and staff.

Any restoration work would have to be incorporated with minimal delays to the start of the project -- no more than a month or two. The board's vote has already been pushed back to address these concerns.

Preserving the buildings is contradictory to the $90 million plan Norris and staff crafted after considering many options. The current plans consider student safety (keeping strangers off campus) and containment (truancy management), 440,000 square feet of classrooms placed to form small learning communities and a design that allows for changing technology.

The plans seek to minimize disruption for students and teachers. That's important, because classes will continue in the old buildings while new ones are built to one side. There's no wiggle room on this 42-acre site; most school districts want 100 acres for a high school campus.

Students attend high school for four years. Building a better Riverview should not take that long.
----------
The SAVE Riverview task Force would comment on this editorial by indicating that in 2002 the School Board's architect presented a plan that included the comment that the Rudolph buildings should be incorporated in the campus design. Then in 2004, when Dr Norris was hired, the architect summarized the report and included the same recommendation: the Rudolph buildings should be incorporated into the design.

Apparently in Nov. of 2005 a neighborhood meeting (neighborhood around the school) was held to show the new building designs and campus. This was not known by the community until about 3 months ago when Anastasia Bowen's article about this was published in the SHT. The SAVE Riverview Task Force was then formed to see if a way could be found to save these buildings. The group is all volunteers, has no funds and so far has had very little time to accomplish our tasks. We are persevering.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Carl Abbott Speaks About Riverview and the Community

Statement from Carl Abbott FAIA on Riverview High School designed by Paul Rudolph
-------------------------
Both of my sons received excellent educations within the Sarasota public school system and, as a result, they were able to receive great college scholarships. I want my three grandchildren, who live here, to have excellent educations. The education of our children is our future.

Riverview High School, designed by Paul Rudolph in 1958, is an important part of Sarasota’s built history and a significant part of the Architectural Legacy of America. Presently, the original Riverview Complex is in a very poor condition, (the maintenance conditions are extreme – even the stair rails leave rust on your hands – this is a maintenance issue and has nothing to do with the construction status of the building). However, the original Rudolph buildings are structurally sound and can be restored to meet current school standards at a cost less than that of new construction.

With Historic Designation, the buildings are not required to meet all current codes and they can be rehabilitated using State Funds, as was done with our local Federal Building, Municipal Auditorium, Sarasota County Courthouse and the Ringling Mansion Ca’ d’Zan.

In September 2004, a Memorandum to Sarasota County School Board Superintendent Dr. Norris, from BMK Architects overviewing their extensive 2002 Long-Range Facilities Review on Riverview High School stated “plan on replacing all existing buildings on campus . . . with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated”. Despite this recommendation, the School Board has recently advocated demolition of the original Riverview High School to make way for a parking lot for a new school complex.

Riverview High School is not “too far along” to change the present direction towards demolition. For many years there has been discussion of changes on the Riverview Campus – - rehabilitation of all existing buildings, exchange of the site, a total new site east of town, etc. This discussion of demolition of the original Riverview Campus was brought to the attention of the public recently (Herald-Tribune article in February 2006). At present, the first phase of architectural documents (Schematic Design Phase) is ready for presentation to the School Board. Dr. Norris has stated that this presentation has been held until further dialogue between the School Board and the Community has taken place.

An informed group of concerned citizens (educators, architects, planners, architectural historians and community leaders) is recommending that the School Board re-assess the situation and preserve this significant landmark. The concerns of our committee are: (a) Students, ( b) Costs / Time, (c) History (both local and international). Our school board has diligently worked in the past to save other significant buildings, including the original Sarasota High School - - let’s continue this responsible stewardship. The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation has cited the Riverview Complex as one of 11 most endangered buildings in Florida and eligible for a listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Sarasota County is acclaimed for its cultural assets, this important work of architecture can serve as a focus of great civic pride.

For over 40 years I have been a part of the Sarasota community, and do appreciate the fact that we are a unique and very special place - “the Cultural Center of Florida”. I know that the original Riverview High School buildings can be rehabilitated so that our students can have the best of 21st century technology in a building that both reflects our history and in a school that they deserve. I am proud to be a part of this grass-roots effort to preserve Riverview High School, which is an important part of Sarasota’s built history and a significant part of the Architectural Legacy of America.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Historical Recognition and Cost savings

Statement from Lorrie Muldowney, AICP, on Riverview High School designed by Paul Rudolph

The Riverview High School Complex, designed by Paul Rudolph in 1958, is one of the outstanding structures of the Sarasota School of Architecture. The architectural and historical significance of Riverview High School is recognized nationally and internationally. Riverview High School is potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places and also in Sarasota County's Local Register of Historic Places. At present, the Complex is one of the 11 most endangered buildings in Florida according to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.

Historic Registries would make the Complex eligible for a number of cost saving incentives :
CODES : Historic Designation would give relief from the substantial improvement limitation of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regulations, and a more flexible interpretation of the Florida Building Code. Both of these would make substantial rehabilitation construction cost reductions.

GRANTS: Historic Designation would make Riverview High School eligible for SpecialCategory Grant funding from the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. Special Category Grants are awarded annually and can be applied for over successive years. These grant dollars have been used locally to historically rehabilitate a number of Sarasota's significant buildings. The Ca' d'Zan, John and Mable Ringling's mansion located on Sarasota Bay ($ 2,090,000); the Municipal Auditorium on North Tamiami Trail ($703,802) and the Sarasota County Court House ($600,000).

With Historic Designation, and the accompanying code abatement and grants the cost for rehabilitating the Riverview High School Complex should be substantially reduced. It is important to preserve the historically significant buildings in Sarasota so that future generations may have a sense of our community’s history.

[Lorrie Muldowney is a graduate from University of Florida - Masters Program in Historic Preservation. She is a practicing professional in the field of Historic Preservation. Lorrie is an Historic Preservation Specialist with the Sarasota County History Center.]

Florida Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites

The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation announced their 2006 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites list at the Annual Statewide Preservation Conference, in St. Augustine, Florida, on May 18, 2006. The sites are not ranked in any particular order.

Riverview High School, Sarasota – Designed by architect Paul Rudolph in 1957, this jewel of modern architecture characterizes the elements of design that came to be known as the nationally-acclaimed Sarasota School of Architecture. Riverview High School marks a transition in Rudolph’s career and was his largest commission in Florida to date. The school is threatened to be replaced with a new, larger, school.

NationsBank Park Plaza, Tampa - Considered by many historians and landscape architects to be one of Dan Kiley’s finest works. He and architect Harry Wolf worked together to transform a riverside lot in downtown Tampa into a corporate headquarters with a garden open to the public. The gardens were very geometrical, having been based on the mathematical sequence of the building’s fenestrations. The threat to the site is the building of a museum that would cover portions of the gardens.

Camp Pinchot Historic District, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach - The earliest Forest Service administrative complex in Florida was located here and served as the first headquarters for National Forests in Florida. After being incorporated into the military base, it has been the home to Eglin Air Force Base generals. The district includes 10 structures dating from 1910 to 1920. A proposed multi-family housing development threatens the historic district. The United States Air Force is currently working with the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Florida State Historic Preservation Officer, and other consulting parties to draft a Programmatic Agreement addressing any potential adverse effects to the Camp Pinchot district.

Old City Waterworks, Tallahassee - A rare surviving example of masonry vernacular industrial/public utility architecture that housed the capital city’s first public water supply system and equipment of the "modern" industrial era. Built in 1909, the threat to this site is demolition by neglect.

Avery Smith House, Miami Beach – This coral rock home, built in 1916, is one of the only coral rock homes remaining in Miami Beach. The original owner was a significant figure in Miami Beach history, owning one of the first boat shuttle services to the island. The Avery Smith House is threatened with demolition by neglect.

Coconut Grove Playhouse, Coconut Grove - The playhouse has been a cultural centerpiece for the Grove since it was built in 1924, but is not protected by local designation. Current proposals call for the demolition of the building for a new theater and condominiums. The owners of the building were appealing an earlier decision by the City of Miami’s Historic Preservation Board to designate the Coconut Grove Playhouse as a historic landmark. Financial issues have forced the owners of the building to close the theater until a decision on its future is decided.

Great Southern Hotel, Hollywood – The hotel is one of only two remaining commercial buildings that were built by founder and developer of Hollywood, Joseph Young. It is part of the Hollywood Historic National Register District, the only district in Broward County. Current plans are only saving a mere 10% of the building, with a twenty story high rise to be built behind the fa├žade. There has been no change to the proposed development plans since the Florida Trust listed the Great Southern Hotel on the 2005 11 Most Endangered List.

Stranahan Trading Post and Camp Site, Fort Lauderdale – The site, located next to the Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale, was the first point of contact where the Seminole Indians and other travelers gathered to exchange goods and services. While the Stranahan House is not threatened, a 42-story condominium project is proposed for the significant archaeological site next door.

Historic Cigar Factories of Tampa – Tampa’s cigar industry is an integral part of that city’s heritage. Out of the 200 cigar factories once standing in Tampa, only 22 still remain and only 7 are located in designated historic districts. Without the protections offered in designated historic districts, the other 15 buildings face a potential threat from encroaching development. Concerns over property rights raised by the buildings’ owners have prompted the city to consider adding an "owners consent" restriction to the local landmark designation process.

The Belleview Biltmore Hotel, Belleair - One of the last grand resorts remaining in Florida built by Henry Plant. It opened in 1897 and has been host to numerous celebrity clientele. The largest wood frame hotel in operation in the United States, it has been sold to developers who plan to demolish it for condominiums. The small community has embarked on a major grass roots effort to save the building.

Florida’s Historic Antebellum Roads, Statewide – Prior to the expansion of the railroads in the state, Floridians depended on a system of roadways to facilitate travel from established cities such as St. Augustine and Pensacola. The Camino Real – later known as King’s Road, and the Bellamy Road are just two of the historic roads which contributed to the development of the state during the Colonial Era. Encroaching development and increasing demand on statewide infrastructure poses threats to these resources.

The Florida Trust for Historic Preservation is a non-profit organization of over 1700 members, and is the statewide partner to the National Trust. Our mission is to promote the preservation of Florida’s unique cultural, historical and architectural resources.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Web Discussion About Riverview High

LottaLiving is a site that indicates " Your source for Mid Century Modern Lifestyle, Design, Art, Furniture and Architecture". It has a discussion forum about Riverview.

The following is from this site and is attributed to Christopher Domin & Joseph King:
Riverview High School is Rudolph's first major public project completed in Florida. To create an intense environment for learning, Rudolph chose the inward-focused courtyard prototype as a way to densify this rural site, offering an approximation of urbanism within an open field.

This two-story composition, organized around a central public space, is enclosed to the north and south by classroom blocks, a cafeteria and library block to the west, and a skeletal steel colonnade with shade canopies to the east. A sky-lit gymnasium and auditorium are placed south of the courtyard and two single-story buildings, containing the administrative offices and medical clinic, are nestled along the western edge of the courtyard.

A steel frame with single with brick infill is an unusual detail among Rudolph's generally ephemeral Florida work. The thin verticality of the black frame was meant to evoke the dark slender trunks of the southern yellow pines that are numerous on the site. The choice of brick and steel as the primary materials in this symmetrically disposed composition is certainly reminiscent of the work of Mies van der Rohe in Chicago, but is modulated and honed for its specific context.

As with most of Rudolph's projects in Florida, this composition is arranged and detailed to encourage air movement and mediate the intensity of the sun. A series of staggered precast concrete sunshades dominates the facades of the classroom buildings in an attempt to protect the large sliding glass doors and operable windows from direct solar gain.

The climactically responsive theme is continued into the interior corridor system with a series of ventilated steel-and-glass monitors rising above the roof. Considered in section, the semi-enclosed interior circulation is carefully composed to allow light and air to penetrate through the stacked corridors.

This project came into existence primarily through the largess of Philip Hiss, Rudolph's most avid patron in Florida, who was also chairman of the Sarasota school board during this time.

There are also some excellent pictures of the building when it was built.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Recent School Board Decision

Here is an article from the Pelican Press - a Sarasota newspaper:

Save Riverview campaign continuing to grow

But the board continues with plans for a new high school facility
By Rachel Brown Hackney

When Molly Cardamone appeared before the Sarasota County School Board on May 16, she spoke not only as a former Sarasota mayor on a mission to preserve historic structures in the city but as a retired teacher whose first posting was at Riverview High School.

Noting her personal connection to the 1958 Paul Rudolph structures on the Riverview campus – examples of the internationally known Sarasota School of Architecture, which the board seems prepared to raze to make way for a new school – Cardamone pleaded for preservation. She and others united in the Save Riverview effort were dismayed to have learned on the morning of the board meeting, she said, that an item on the consent agenda dealt with the ranking of construction managers for the Riverview project; that item mentioned “demolition of the existing facility.”

The agenda item seemed to contradict a promise Superintendent Gary Norris and board Chairman Carol Todd had made on April 28 to her and others, Cardamone said, that “there would be community dialogue” before any further steps were taken in regard to the Rudolph buildings.

Norris responded that the agenda item did not violate the spirit of that agreement. Board attorney Art Hardy explained further that, if the board approved the action, that simply meant district officials could begin to negotiate with a contractor to manage the eventual project at Riverview. “Under any scenario, there will be demolition involved in this project,” he pointed out.“This in no way binds the board to any particular plan,” Hardy said. Responding to a question from board member John P. Lewis, Hardy added, “You don’t know exactly what you’re asking the construction manager to do yet, but you want to have somebody on line so that when you say, ‘This is what we want to do,’ they can hit the ground running with it.”

Following the discussion, the board voted 5-0 to approve the consent agenda, including the Riverview item.

Cardamone’s appearance at the board meeting reflected a recent groundswell of support to save the Rudolph structures. The movement doesn’t involve just local residents, according to Cardamone and well-known Sarasota architect Carl Abbott, who spoke with the Pelican Press in a joint telephone interview. The London Times recently featured an article on the school board’s plans, Abbott said, and architectural journals have spread the word across the United States.

Lee Byron, a real estate agent with Michael Saunders and Company, told the Pelican Press she had taken a petition to a recent meeting of the firm’s agents and had been met with enormous support for saving the buildings. Referring to her fellow agents, she said, “They just exploded in wanting to sign it.”

At the May 16 meeting, Cardamone held up another petition filled with signatures that had been gathered in just 10 minutes, she said, after discussion of the issue at a function attended by a Save Riverview committee member.

When he first learned the school board was looking at tearing down the Rudolph buildings, Abbott said, the emotional toll was “like a tear in my heart.” He conceded the structures are “not in good condition,” but he is adamant they can be rehabilitated through use of state grant funds designated for such purposes.“It makes sense to reuse what is of value,” he added.

Board member Laura Benson knows only too well the limitations of the current facilities at Riverview – including the Rudolph structures: Her son was a freshman there this year. During a special meeting the week before the May 16 session, she referred to the school’s condition as “deplorable.”

In a telephone interview, Benson expressed frustration over the fact that the Save Riverview effort had not begun in earnest until the past few months, after the board members started discussing details about constructing a new high school on the Riverview campus.

She was introduced to problems with the current facilities in January 2003, she said, when Florida’s first lady, Columba Bush, paid a visit to the school. The members of Bush’s entourage were wearing black suits, Benson said. When the party exited the buildings, everyone’s clothes were “covered in a fine white dust … The dust just blew my mind.” She found herself thinking, “The kids are breathing this.”

The existing school also is too crowded for its student population, Benson said. “All the kids are on top of each other” as they move from class to class, and “parking is horrendous.”During the May 16 board meeting, Vice Chairman Frank Kovach noted he was a Riverview alumnus. “That school had pretty poor classrooms in the ‘70s,” he said, adding that Riverview students need a 21st-century facility.

Benson said she happily would vote to give any group wanting to move the Rudolph structures to another location the money the board would have to spend on demolishing them, to help pay for the move. Regarding the board’s plans to erect a new school and the effort to save the historic structures, Benson added, “Everybody is doing everything for the right reason.” However, “I don’t know how to make it a win-win at this point.”

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