From Preservation Online, the online magazine of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Sarasota Plans to Demolish Paul Rudolph School
Story by Margaret Foster / Apr. 20, 2006
A 48-year-old Florida high school designed by modern architect Paul Rudolph could be torn down for a parking lot. Riverview High School, located in Sarasota, Fla., was the first important commercial building designed by Rudolph (1918-1997), the father of the Sarasota school of architecture. Owned by the Sarasota County school board, the steel-frame structure's concrete sunshades were removed years ago, and the flat roof was replaced with a metal hip one.
Last week, after a meeting with preservationists and architects, the county school board agreed to hold off on voting on the final design for the new 3,000-student high school that will be built on Riverview's 42-acre site. But the board has already voted to destroy the 1958 structure.
"We have a vested in in history and preserving what we can preserve," says Carol Todd, county school board chair. "The building has been modified many times. It's a complex issue. It's balancing what we can afford with our students' needs."
A new school will cost $80 million, half of the school board's annual budget, Todd says.
"[Last week's] meeting was very cordial and friendly, but the superintendent really has a clear idea of what he wants to do, and it doesn't include keeping the old building," says local architect Joe King, a member of the month-old group Save Riverview and author of the 2002 book "The Florida Houses."
King's group wants the school board to incorporate the old building into the new school, and next week it will present the board with alternative architectural plans. Other architects also have urged the school board to consider other options.
"Tearing it down and replacing it with a parking lot is a travesty of the significant contribution that Paul Rudolph has made to your community," writes Vivian Salaga, president of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects, in an Apr. 13 letter to Todd.
"Riverview's significance warrants finding an alternative use for the building and not relegating it to demolition for the construction of a parking lot."
The online version of Preservation has excellent stories about preservation news and issues.