Sunday, April 30, 2006

SAVE Riverview Update

A small group of people is actively working to find a way that Paul Rudolph’s Riverview High School main building can be saved - probably by using it as an integral part of a design for the new proposed campus.

The new school proposal apparently is still in the preliminary design phase and viable options could be considered.

This is the focus of a small group of concerned architects and preservationists. The group is currently composed of Carl Abbott, Mollie Cardamone, James Bowen, Guy Peterson, Dick Clapp, Mark Ramaeker, Joe King, and Janice Green.

Members of the group have met twice with the School Board President and the Superintendent to discuss options and ideas. It appears that there is a willingness by the school leadership to consider options.

The architects have pointed out that historical designation would make a "restoration" proposal eligible for grants that could significantly reduce costs to the school system. They have also shown sketches that show how the Rudolph building could be used in a new campus layout.

The committee is hopeful that a way can be found that accomplishes the school systems needs for a new campus yet retains the historically significant Rudolph designed structure.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Riverview High School is an important part of Sarasota’s built history and a significant part of the Architectural Legacy of America. It is significant as it is the first public building in Florida by the undisputed leading architect of the Sarasota School of Architecture, Paul Rudolph. It was built in 1958.

However the Sarasota School Board plans to tear down this structure as part of the plan to redesign and rebuild the Riverview Campus.

A consultant's report from September of 2004 describes an approach that could work for the proposed replacement. The consultant, Stuart Barger, indicates the School Board should "Plan on replacing all existing buildings on campus over time, with the exception of the original Rudolph buildings, which should be rehabilitated."

Recently a group of Sarasota architects and preservationists met to see what could be done to save the Rudolph buildings at Riverview - at least save the main building.

A recent SHT article about the proposed Riverview School plan quoted Timothy Rohan, assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Rudolph during his Ph.D. work at Harvard University:

In 1995, the county's historic resources department contracted with a preservation expert to conduct a Sarasota school of architecture survey, and about 300 buildings were identified. Of those included in the survey, 13 were identified as by Rudolph.

Since that survey, two of Rudolph's houses have been torndown. "I think that what's happening now, they're really going to regret 20 years down the line," said Rohan. "Everybody really regretted the demolition of Penn Station, and 20 years from now you're really going to regret all of this because you're not leaving any kind of built legacy."

The loss of Sarasota's important built history is significant and we must find ways to preserve those important buildings that still exist.