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.

phone: 850-222-7590

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.


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


[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.