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
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.