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


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 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 = 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

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.