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.

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.