Thursday, November 29, 2007

News About the "Save Riverview" Proposals

Four proposals were selected for review by the jury and the school board.

Local news articles about the status of saving the Riverview are in the Sarasota Herald Tribume and the Pelican Press.

A Pelican Press article about the selection process is here.

The public meeting tonight to view the selection results was well attended. Diane Lewis , architect for the chosen design, participated via telephone from New York. The proposal is exciting and was very well recieved.

More news and graphics will be posted when they are available.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Invitation from Sarasota Architectural Foundation


Revive Rudolph's Riverview –
Campaign For Preservation & Recommended Adaptive Use Design

When: Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Time: 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Roskamp Center for the Arts & Humanity
1226 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota

SAF will discuss the campaign for preserving Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School, including a showing of the Metropolis film Site Specific.

Mark Smith, AIA FL President and member of the Revive Rudolph’s Riverview Committee will discuss the program.

The team that submitted the recommended adaptive use design – RMJM Hillier with Diane Lewis Architect and Beckelman+ Capalino, LLC, New York, NY, with Seibert Architects, Sarasota, FL – will present their proposal for the Riverview Music Quadrangle.

There will also be a display of the proposals by the other three finalist teams:
Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Atlanta, GA, in association with John McAslan + Partners, London; Mark S. Kauffman, Developer, The ADP Group, Architects, Sarasota, FL; and The Folsom Group and TOTeMS Architecture, Inc. Sarasota, FL.

This event is free and open to the public.

If you have any questions, please contact:
Samantha Allard
Sarasota Architectural Foundation

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Riverview Building Close to Being Saved

Harold Bubil has commented on progress made this past week toward saving the Paul Rudolph designed Riverview high School. The school board is in the process of rebuilding the entire campus, but has allowed proposals for saving the Rudolph building if the cost is not increased and the timetable is not delayed.

Harold's column says in part:

There's still a long way to go, but the effort to save the Paul Rudolph-designed buildings at Riverview High took a big step this week.

The Sarasota Architectural Foundation's Revive Rudolph's Riverview committee presented proposals to the Sarasota County School Board, which is building a new complex at the 42-acre site on Proctor Road.

Five architect-developer teams participated in the Request for Proposals process; one team withdrew. The four remaining proposals were ranked in order and presented to the School Board on Tuesday.

The first-ranked proposal, which called for an adaptive use that would join the historic and new RHS buildings, was dismissed by School Board members because it did not fit the criteria set forth by the board: the Rudolph project could not delay or add cost to the new RHS project.

That leaves the second-ranked proposal -- something called the Riverview Music Quadrangle.

Submitted by the design team of RMJM Hillier, with Diane Lewis Architect and Beckelman+Capalino of New York, and Seibert Architects of Sarasota, this plan calls for "a collaborative environment for new and existing Sarasota music activities," according to a statement by the Revive Rudolph's Riverview committee. "It would complement the Riverview High School and other Sarasota County school music programs, and it would provide studio space and performance venues for community groups and orchestras."

This and other proposals will be shown to the public on at 5 PM, Thursday (Nov 29) at the Roskamp Center on the North Trail.

More information can be found at the SAF Revive Riverview site.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Progress Toward Saving Riverview

From the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Article published Sep 15, 2007

Harold Bubil

Making progress on Riverview

The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) is making progress in its efforts to save Paul Rudolph's Riverview High School from demolition.

The SAF has received "Statements of Qualification" from several prominent international and local teams of architects and developers who may take part in the competition to find an adaptive use for Riverview.

The five finalists will be announced at a reception held by the Paul Rudolph Foundation in New York today. I'm told a world-class Chicago firm is one of them.

Formal proposals are due by Nov. 16; the winner will be chosen by an international jury in Sarasota on Nov. 19.

The School Board's final decision will be made March 15, 2008.

The SAF has raised the $25,000 required to qualify for a matching $25,000 grant from the World Monuments Fund (WMF) to help with the preservation as part of the WMF's "Modernism at Risk" program and its founding sponsor, Knoll.

See also the "Revive Rudolph's Riverview" homepage at the Sarasota Architectural Foundation web site.

The wikipedia entry also gives onformation about this project.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Plan to Save Rudolph Buildings

The following article was printed in the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Article published Jun 20, 2007

What: The Riverview Committee is soliciting design ideas to restore the famed Paul Rudolph buildings at Riverview High and create a unique parking deck for the campus. If no proposal is found by March 2008, the School Board will tear down the buildings.

When: The design competition should begin this summer. The final idea should be selected by November.

Information: Contact Les Fishman at 365-4723, or e-mail James Bowen at

Riverview group seeks champion to save buildings

SARASOTA COUNTY -- What was once a grassroots effort to save the historic buildings at Riverview High is now an organized movement, looking for a partner with design ideas and funding before the School Board's demolition deadline.

The citizens group Save Riverview Committee recently merged with the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, a nonprofit organization, to form the Riverview Committee.

The 12-member committee will soon host an international competition to find a new use for Riverview High's courtyard buildings, designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph. They are also seeking a design idea for a unique parking solution -- a parking garage with ball fields on top -- that would provide the space for the Rudolph buildings to remain on the campus.

The group hopes to have a winning proposal by November in order to present to the School Board by its March 2008 deadline. If no solution is found, the buildings will be demolished, the School Board has said."It isn't just a design problem; it's a problem of funding as well," said Greg Hall, an Sarasota architect and committee member. "It's a pretty daunting task, but we are optimistic."

The Sarasota County School Board in March agreed to give the group one year to come up with a design plan and the funding, about $20 million, before demolishing the Rudolph buildings as planned to make way for the new school's parking lot.

The resolution came after outcry over the demolition and a three-day workshop, hosted by the National Historic Trust, in which architects, school officials and concerned citizens brainstormed ways to save the buildings without hindering the construction of the new school.Instead of razing the buildings for a parking lot, the group came up with the space saving idea of a parking deck with fields on top so the buildings could remain. And although the group decided the Rudolph buildings could not be part of the new school, they could be renovated for an alternative use, preferably a university that complements the high school.

The committee plans to announce more details about its competition at the end of this month. It will be requesting that firms or developer teams that are interested submit their qualifications. Based on those, by mid-September the committee will select five finalists that will then have three months to submit proposals. Then a jury committee, with public input, will make a final selection that will be presented to the School Board in the spring.At this point, committee members say, the possibilities for the Rudolph buildings are endless.

"It's wide open," said James Bowen, a Sarasota architect who is chairing the Riverview committee. "It could be an organization, a corporation, a university, a building collector. It could be anyone if the idea is right and they are capable.

"Yet as the group is moving forward with its plan, so is the School Board. It recently finalized legal agreements with Sarasota County government, and is moving forward with a land swap with the county, the final steps before construction will begin.

On Tuesday, the School Board also approved the plans for Riverview High's 1,000-seat auditorium and 40,000-square-foot gymnasium. Construction is expected to begin next month on the $19 million structures. The remaining plans for Riverview should be finished by this fall.At roughly $134 million, the Riverview High School project is one of the most expensive in school district history. The School Board has said the district will not pay to revitalize the Rudolph buildings. Nor can the preservation slow down the project, interfere with instruction or diminish student safety.

"They are welcome to pursue any avenue to save the buildings, but the board has nothing to do with it," board member Kathy Kleinlein said.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Catching up with the news

There has been much acticity in the last couple weeks concerning the positive steps toward saving the Rudolph building on the Riverview High campus. Excerpts from these news stories are as follows:

Mar 20
Group offers Riverview plan
Idea would save Paul Rudolph buildings, raise cost of project
By LIZ BABIARZ Sarasota Herald Tribune

SARASOTA COUNTY -- A committee seeking to preserve historic buildings at Riverview High School will recommend to the School Board today that the new campus include a raised soccer field and tennis court that would have parking space underneath.The group met this weekend to explore alternatives to the district's plan for Riverview, which includes building a new school and razing the courtyard buildings -- designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph -- to make room for a parking lot.

Mar 21
Riverview's future hinges on $20 million
School Board gives preservationists one year to raise funds to save the Rudolph buildings.
By LIZ BABIARZ Sarasota Herald Tribune

SARASOTA COUNTY -- The fate of the historic buildings at Riverview High now hinges on a group's ability to raise millions of dollars.The School Board on Tuesday agreed to give a group of preservationists one year to come up with roughly $20 million for an innovative parking solution that would allow the buildings, designed by famed architect Paul Rudolph, to remain on campus.Instead of razing the Rudolph buildings to make room for a parking lot as the district planned, the group wants the district to build an elevated soccer field and six tennis courts -- with parking space underneath -- in the campus' southeast corner.For about an additional $11 million, the Rudolph buildings would be restored for an alternative use, possibly a satellite campus for a university, housing for teachers or an art museum.But that's only if the group, called the Save Riverview Committee, can come up with a partner and secure the funding by March 2008, the School Board said.

Mar 22 SHT Editorial
Compromise built on trust
Proposal to save Riverview High buildings is daunting but fair
Principled compromises, progressive thinking and constructive debate were the products of a recent workshop that explored alternatives to the demolition of Riverview High School's signature buildings, tired but notable pieces of modern architecture.Not bad for a weekend of intense work by local preservationists and architects, Sarasota County School District representatives and facilitators from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.Actually, the process and the results were amazing in light of the time constraints, the parameters of the task and the polarized views of key participants.

Mar 24
RHS plan is 'win-win'
Like the architecture it is meant to protect, the National Trust/Save Riverview Committee's alternative plan for Sarasota's Riverview High School is a stroke of simple genius -- aside from the issue of paying for it.

Saving the Paul Rudolph-designed buildings on the school's cramped campus by putting soccer fields and tennis courts atop a large parking garage is a "win-win," says School Board attorney Lamar Matthews.

Because the estimated $15 million cost would be raised from private sources, the plan would neither add to the cost of the new school facility nor delay its construction -- key requirements for the School Board.

Rudolph Pictures - including Riverview

Monday, March 19, 2007



“Site Specific: The History of Regional Modernism,” a documentary prepared by Susan Szenasy and Metropolis magazine, will have a free preview screening at the Sarasota Film Society’s Burns Court Cinemas Saturday, March 24, at 10 a.m.

The film, which includes an examination of the significance of Paul Rudolph’s world-famous Riverview High School, will be shown in conjunction with a discussion sponsored by the Save Riverview Committee, AIA Florida and the Sarasota Architectural Foundation.

In view of the recent charrette conducted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation about the feasibility of rehabilitation and re-use of the iconic Rudolph structures in the new Riverview campus now under consideration, the generous offer of Metropolis magazine to make the film available in advance of Susan Szenasy’s fall lecture tour of the United States is key to this important airing of the issues of historic preservation, community history and education.

Greg Hall AIA will moderate the discussion, which will include comments by Mollie Cardamone, former City Commissioner and one of the first teachers to work in the Rudolph buildings when they were opened in 1958. Other speakers include local architect and President of AIA Florida Mark Smith AIA, as well as Les Fishman, president of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation.

The event, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 24, has been made possible by the generous gesture of the Sarasota Film Society in making their theatre on Burns Court, just off South Pineapple Avenue in downtown Sarasota available. Free parking can be found at the city lot opposite the Dolphin center on South Orange Avenue.

For more information, call: Carl Abbott, FAIA, Architect and Planner PA, 941-351-5016.

Friday, March 16, 2007

New Metropolis Film To Be Shown in Sarasota

To all members of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation and Other Interested Parties, Metropolis Magazine, in conjunction with the Committee to Save Riverview is presenting a twenty minute documentary.

Here are the details:

Title: Site Specific.

This is a film about Regional Modernist Architecture.

It features Riverview High School as a case study.

Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 10:00 A.M.

Burns Court Theater, Burns Court, Sarasota.
Free Admission

Following the showing there will be a presentation and discussion led by Greg Hall. There will be other architects, preservationists and representatives from various organizations participating.

We urge you to attend and support The Committee to Save Riverview.

Les Fishman,
SAF Chairman

Thursday, March 08, 2007

National Trust Charrette Process

From the Pelican Press:

Riverview High charrette to be held March 16-18

Question remains whether sessions will be private

A brainstorming process that may determine the fate of the historic Paul Rudolph buildings at Riverview High School in Sarasota has been set for March 16-18, the Pelican Press has learned.

The biggest question remaining in the planning is whether the "charrette," to be held under the auspices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will be open to the public, local architects Greg Hall and Mark Smith said.

However, Smith and Scott Lempe, acting associate superintendent of the Sarasota County Schools, said they felt the process would have to be open because of Florida's Sunshine laws.

"Frankly, I don't think that there is any way we can talk about spending $135 million of the taxpayers' money and not have that meeting open to the public," Lempe said, referring to the estimated cost of the new Riverview High School, which is scheduled to open in August 2009.

Hall said John Hildreth, director of the National Trust's southern office, located in Charleston, S.C., preferred the charrette be private.

In Florida, Hall said, people are used to a public issue being discussed in open session. "On the other hand, it can have the unwanted effect of politicizing the process." "[The National Trust has] found that it's easier and quicker and more direct if they just have the workshop participants in the room," Smith said.

Nonetheless, Smith has e-mailed Hildreth his concerns. If the charrette is held behind closed doors, Smith noted, Hildreth has said the conclusions will be announced in a public forum. Hildreth did not return calls.

The charrette is scheduled to begin about noon on March 16 and conclude about noon on March 18, according to Lempe. It probably will be held at the school district offices in The Landings on South Tamiami Trail, he added.

The Save Riverview committee has been advocating for the preservation of the Rudolph buildings in spite of a school board vote in June 2006 to tear down the structures in preparation for the new school. During their Feb. 6 regular meeting, the school board members agreed to the charrette. However, they were firm that they would not allow the process to delay construction.

In a Feb. 20 interview, Lempe said he had contacted Hildreth the previous week to begin the planning for the charrette. He had asked Hildreth to contact the Vancouver, British Columbia, architectural firm of Busby Perkins + Will to provide an architect to lead the sessions, as agreed to by the Save Riverview committee. Perkins + Will, Lempe said, "is recognized nationally as a leader in education design." The Sarasota firm of BMK Architects worked in partnership with Perkins + Will on the new Riverview design.

On Monday, the Save Riverview committee was working to finalize who would represent it during the charrette. Hall said he would be participating, along with Smith, the current president of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects. Hall was not certain whether Smith would have to be counted as one of the three Save Riverview people or whether he could participate as a fourth in his AIA capacity.

Lempe said last week that he had asked the Save Riverview committee to limit its representation to three people. "Committees tend to be ineffective if they get too big," he said.

Asked whether he was optimistic the charrette could produce a workable proposal for saving the Rudolph buildings, Hall said, "It is our hope [the conclusions] will carry some weight" with the school board. "I'm happy with the way it's all come together," Smith said. "I think it's an honor for Sarasota" to have the National Trust involved in the process, he added. "It reinforces what we have been talking about as a committee and as architects" regarding the value of the Rudolph buildings as examples of the internationally known Sarasota School of Architecture.

The charrette will provide the "thorough evaluation [that] should be given" to those structures, Smith said. Moreover, "it's never too late if you save history."

In the News - The Hits Keep On Coming

Time Magazine's on line version has a story about the demolition of Paul Rudolph buildings. Included is a reference to Riverview High School here in Sarasota:

And Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., the city where Rudolph started his career in the 1940 and '50s, is now in danger of being sacrificed for a parking lot.

Check the entire story at this link. There is also a reference to the NY Times article about the same issue a couple days ago.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Update: National Trust Moderated Review of Riverview High School

From the Sarasota School Administration (Mar 1, 2007):


This e-mail is intended to give you an update on where we are regarding a session with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to talk about Riverview High School.

The National Trust has been in contact with Perkins & Will (at the mutual agreement of the parties) and they have agreed to facilitate this process. The National Trust has identified a window of opportunity for us to hold this session, beginning around noon on Friday, March 16, 2007 and planning to be complete by noon on Sunday, March 18, 2007.

I hate to ask anyone to give up a part of a weekend but this may be the only way to make this happen in a timely fashion. I think we need to make sure our group is large enough to get the work done and small enough to be functional and efficient.

I've recommended to the National Trust the list below. For those of you on the list, please let me know if you think you can participate in this two-day session. Details will follow--at this point I'm just looking at the calendar... I don't know that we will have an opportunity for "alternate dates."

District Team
Scott Lempe Assoc Supt, Business
Darrell McClain BMK Representative
Linda Nook Principal

Community Reps
Cathy Layton Community member
Marion Almy Community member

Save Riverview Team
Greg Hall plus 2 (at your discretion but I do think we need to keep it small)

Staff Support
Lamar Matthews Counsel to the School Board
John Neel Project Manager

Thanks!!! More to follow as the date nears...

ScottScott J. LempeActing Associate Superintendent
Business Support Services

Friday, February 09, 2007

Riverview Editorial

Editorial published Feb 9, 2007 in Sarasota Herald Tribune
The Riverview review

Requirement of a strict timeline is lamentable but necessaryAfter a parents' group pleaded, in a Herald-Tribune guest column, for construction of a new Riverview High School to proceed without delay, a community group proposed, in another guest column, an expert review of the possibilities of preservation.

The Sarasota County School Board and superintendent agreed on both counts.

The board and Superintendent Gary Norris took a principled yet politically practical stand Tuesday. They accepted a proposal by the Save Riverview Committee to let the National Trust for Historic Preservation facilitate a three-day workshop. The workshop will examine the feasibility of rehabilitating the school courtyard buildings designed by the renowned Paul Rudolph and incorporating them into a new campus.

The School Board's agreement came with important caveats, such as limits on costs and a provision that preservation proposals not delay the sorely needed, overdue Riverview campus-reconstruction plan.It's lamentable that adherence to a strict timeline is required, but it's necessary. As we wrote in an editorial last June, the Riverview campus -- which includes "Sarasota School of Architecture" designs by Rudolph -- is overcrowded, outdated and rundown. Even one of the leading proponents of rehabilitation, architect (and Riverview graduate and parent) Mark H. Smith, wrote that today's campus is a "dreadful place.

"The school district, preservationists and the community should be embarrassed by the fact that any school -- much less one of distinctive design -- has deteriorated to the condition of Riverview.

We sympathize with the preservationists' desire to save the architecture. More than history is at stake, however. The health, safety and welfare of students and staff are at risk. If those priorities can be met through preservation, wonderful, but they must be met without delay.

School Board OKs National Trust Review

Article published Feb 7, 2007

Sarasota board open to saving historic school
School Board OKs Riverview study

After weeks of lobbying by local architects, school district officials appear more open to saving the historic buildings at Riverview High as they rebuild the school.

But it can't delay construction, increase costs, diminish security or interfere with student learning, those officials said Tuesday.

"We still want the school open by 2009; this is what we want to see," board member Shirley Brown said. "If we can see that and save that portion of the old school, we'll go forward.

"The School Board on Tuesday agreed to invite an architect from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to Sarasota in the next few weeks to study the viability of saving the historic courtyard buildings, designed by architect Paul Rudolph.

The Historic Trust will host a three-day "brainstorming session" with 15 to 20 interested parties -- including architects, Riverview teachers and parents, residents and district officials -- to see what can be done to preserve the Rudolph buildings and build a school that meets the needs of 21st century education.

The board's decision to hold the independent review was supported by all the members except Chairman Frank Kovach.It is a victory for local architects who have been pushing the board to reconsider its vote last fall to tear down the Rudolph buildings to make way for a parking lot and bus loop.

"It's an iconic building," said Edward "Tim" Seibert, an AIA fellow and member of the Save Riverview Committee.

"Paul Rudolph was a very fine architect, known around the world. I hope we can open up a conversation and make (the preservation) happen."But while they were open to the idea of investigating ways to preserve Rudolph's work, the School Board was clear it may not result in any change.

"I think our students deserve a safe and healthy school to go to," board member Caroline Zucker said. "If it is going to delay the project at all, I'm not in favor of it.

"At the end of the three-day "charrette," the National Trust architect will make a recommendation to the School Board on how to proceed with Riverview High, a suggestion the board can accept, reject or modify.If the board chooses to proceed with the demolition, Superintendent Gary Norris is suggesting it wait at least two years to give the community a chance to raise money and find another use for the structure.

Norris compared it to the process the district used to save Sarasota High School's old red brick building, by accepting a proposal from the Ringling School of Art and Design to transform it into a visual arts education center.

"If there's really this cry out there to save the building, I think the money is out there, too," Norris said.

Mold, drainage and other problems have plagued Riverview for years, and school officials have maintained it would cost too much to save it.

But preservationists say the district didn't do enough to try to save the buildings designed by Rudolph, one of the founders of the Sarasota School of architecture. They recently nominated the glass and steel structures to be included on the list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historical Sites.

"At Tuesday's meeting, the board also instructed BMK Architects to proceed with its construction drawings for Riverview. Under the current plan, construction of a new school building on vacant land would start in September and be completed in fall 2009. The students would relocate to the new building and the Rudolph buildings would be demolished in late 2009 or early 2010. Then a parking lot and bus loop would be built.

School Board members continue to express concern about the project's price tag, now hovering at $134 million. At their meeting next week, they will discuss ways to reduce costs, which may mean cutting back on extras such as the planetarium, a balcony in the auditorium and computers for students.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

School Board Accepts National Trust's Offer

Today the Sarasota School Board voted 4-1 to accept the offer made by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to facilitate an independent review of the Rudolph buildings on the Riverview site.

The review will likely be a three-day workshop at no cost to the community or the Sarasota County School Board and will focus on the feasibility of rehabilitating the original Paul Rudolph courtyard buildings and incorporating them into the campus of the new 21st-century Riverview.

We are pleased that the School Board took this step.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Good News

Saving school may be studied

SARASOTA COUNTY -- School Superintendent Gary Norris agreed Friday to recommend an independent study to see if some parts of Riverview High School can be spared the wrecking ball.

Norris met with the Save Riverview Committee and said he would talk to School Board members about allowing the National Trust for Historic Preservation to study the viability of saving some of the original courtyard buildings, designed by architect Paul Rudolph.

School Board members voted in the fall to demolish the buildings and use the land for parking and a bus loop once the new school is built.

Mold, drainage and other problems have plagued the school for years, and school officials have maintained it would cost too much to save them.

But architects and preservationists say the district didn't do enough to try to save the buildings designed by Rudolph, one of the founders of the Sarasota School of architecture.

They recently nominated the part of the Rudolph campus to be included on the list of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historical Sites."

"We're pleased that an organization of this stature will be looking into how the Rudolph courtyard buildings can really be used," said Mark Smith, a member of the Save Riverview Committee. "The National Trust will be picking up the costs, and we'll be working in close cooperation with the associate superintendent to make this happen.

"If the School Board agrees, the National Trust will bring in an architect to hold workshops and look at factors such as safety, costs and security.

The National Trust is a nonprofit preservation organization with about 250,000 members.The district hopes to have the new three-story campus building completed by August 2009.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Letter From National Trust

Excerpts from a letter to the School System Associate Superintendent from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Thank you for talking with me Monday afternoon January 22nd, regarding the future of Riverview High School. From conversations conducted with you, and with Riverview’s principal Linda Nook, the National Trust understands circumstances surrounding Riverview to be complex, and that in-depth discussion regarding Riverview’s future has been ongoing. The National Trust is aware that a wide range of alternatives has been explored over a number of years. I thank you for this level of discussion.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a nonprofit organization with more than 250,000 members nationwide. As the leader of the national preservation movement, we are committed to saving America’s diverse historic environments and to preserving and revitalizing the livability of communities throughout the country.

Riverview High School, and the work of architect Paul Rudolph, is well known to the National Trust. Riverview’s construction in 1957 and the addition constructed to Sarasota High School the following year, mark Rudolph’s strongest statements of public place-making in Florida. While school administrators question Riverview’s suitability as an educational site, the building’s iconic status warrants identifying a continuing use for, at minimum, a significant portion of Rudolph’s original complex.

The National Trust shares the Sarasota County School Board’s concern that county schoolchildren be provided a safe, secure learning environment that meets 21st century educational needs. It is the National Trust’s belief that with careful planning, Riverview
can be adapted to the demands of 21st century learning.

We respectfully request you join Florida’s preservation community in developing a strategy to preserve this highly significant landmark while adapting it to future use. We offer our assistance in facilitating such an effort, including funding to engage other designers to participate.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Rudolph Designed Home Goes to the Landfill

We are saddened to learn about the demolition of the Paul Rudolph designed home in westport, CT.

WESTPORT, Conn., Jan. 13 — A Modernist house designed by the renowned architect Paul Rudolph and at the center of a highly public dispute over its demolition was being torn down Saturday, despite a last-minute effort by the state attorney general to save it.
Crews arrived at the property on Minute Man Hill Road just after 8 a.m. When they began demolishing the house, the police ordered members of the news media out of the immediate area.

As the morning wore on, trash-hauling trucks carried away the remnants of the 4,200-square-foot home designed in 1972 by Mr. Rudolph, the chairman of
Yale’s School of Architecture in the early 1960s. The house was an elongated series of interconnecting cubes, with the eastern end hovering over the ground. By the afternoon, little of it remained.

Morley Boyd, the chairman of the Westport Historic District Commission, said, “An irreplaceable piece of our town, indeed our state’s, architectural heritage has been consigned to a landfill. It’s hard to fathom.”

We hope that Sarasota's School Board and Superintendent show more concern, sensitivity a dn a sense of community history than was shown in Westport.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Riverview Demolition Nominated for National Trust's Most Endangered List

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune has a story today about our group's application to nominate the planned Riverview demolition to the National Trust's 11 Most Endangered List for 2007. It is currently on the Florida Trust's Endangered List.

Article published Jan 14, 2007


SARASOTA -- Local architects are trying to dub Riverview High school one of "America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places of 2007," a designation that carries no legal punch but packs a mean public awareness campaign.

In the 20-year history of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's famed listing, only two of the chosen endangered places were ever demolished: the Mapes Hotel in Reno, Nev., where stars including Tony Bennett performed, and the Madison Lenox Hotel in Detroit, one of the downtown area's original turn-of-the-century buildings.

The Riverview application, filed this week by the head of the state's largest architectural association, came with letters of support from industry leaders from New Jersey to Michigan, each making the case why the Sarasota County School Board should reverse its decision to demolish the school.

"Hopefully it will show the local folks in charge of this thing that they've made the wrong decision," said Mark Smith, a Siesta Key architect and member of the Save Riverview committee.

About 70 to 100 apply for status each year, according to the trust. Winners will be announced May 15.

The movement to save the school is picking up national support.

World-famous urban planner Andres Duany called the demolition plans "barbaric" at a City Hall meeting a few days ago.

But the national attention might not be enough to spare the buildings designed by modernist architect Paul Rudolph, who is considered one of the most talented members of the Sarasota architecture movement of the 1950s, and whose reputation in recent years has been revived.

One of his designs, the architecture school at Yale, even appears on a postage stamp.

School officials say, despite the attention, they'll hold fast to plans to tear down and rebuild by 2010.

The Proctor Street lot is too small to preserve the glass-and-steel Rudolph buildings and still build something suitable for the 21st century, they say.

They're thinking hurricane-proof, high-tech, secure, cost-efficient. They want parking spots.

When the Rudolph buildings come down, pavement will be laid in their place.

"Students first, taxpayers second and architectural design third," said School Board member Caroline Zucker.

The application to the historic trust is the latest turn in the growing war between school leaders and local preservationists since the School Board voted last fall to tear down the school.

After hearing from members of the Save Riverview committee, who believe there is a cost-efficient way to renovate the Rudolph buildings and still build a new school, the Sarasota County government decided to investigate whether there was a code prohibiting destruction of the 58-year-old campus.

School officials are planning to meet with county officials one-on-one this week to share the deteriorating condition of Riverview, from the mold to the dark classrooms, and reasons why restoring the Rudolph buildings won't work.

Several school officials said they worried the national attention might further delay the Riverview rebuild.

"It's frustrating," said Principal Linda Nook. "I'm worried about anything that could halt this."

The school district plans to restore a smaller Rudolph building on the Sarasota High campus, said Superintendent Gary Norris.

And the district is committed to including Rudolph-inspired touches at the new Riverview, such as staircases that seem to float and steel beams.

For some, that will never be enough.

"You know what the world thinks of your tearing down Riverview?" Duany said before a packed City Commission chambers last week. "It doesn't matter how many concerts you have and how many art museums you have. You will be considered forever barbarians if you take it down."

The crowd cheered.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pelican Press Editorial

Pelican Press

Rudolph's Riverview High must be preserved

Unless you've just returned to town, you know by now that despite months of active campaigning by local and national preservationists, the Sarasota School of Architecture-styled, Paul Rudolph-designed Riverview High School, which was built in 1957, has been slated for destruction since last summer.

Since the announcement, Save Riverview, which is committed to finding a way to preserve the Rudolph structures, has generated a groundswell of international support. The county commission recently directed its legal staff to research Florida statutes and determine if there are provisions to block the school board's plan to replace the historic structure with a new one by the autumn of 2009. The commission directed County Attorney Steve DeMarsh to research both applicable laws and the county's comprehensive plan for a report about "historic preservation and off-site impacts." A report has been tentatively scheduled for Jan. 25.

And, as reported in this week's Pelican, Metropolis, an internationally known design and architecture magazine, is producing a documentary on the ongoing saga of the Rudolph buildings.

Clearly this is not an issue that is going to fade away gracefully - probably much to the chagrin of the school board, which voted unanimously to demolish the school.

On May 18, 2006, the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation listed the building as one of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Sites in the state. Then, to the surprise of local and international Rudolph devotees, one month later, the school board announced a multimillion-dollar plan for building a new Riverview that means all the existing school's buildings would be demolished to make way for parking.

The school district had already paid approximately $1.2 million for an in-depth facilities assessment by the firm 3D/International (3DI). Unfortunately - and this is really where they missed the boat - 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 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."

Rudolph's designs tend to be polarizing. But whether you love or hate the building is really irrelevant; it is a historically important piece of the Sarasota School of Architecture that should be saved.

Rudolph was a pioneering architect and a major figure of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Before designing Riverview High School in 1957, he focused his groundbreaking talents on designing private residences on Siesta Key and Sarasota.

In his designs, Rudolph synthesized the Modernist ideas of Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Louis I. Kahn. He used sweeping monolithic forms and intricate interior spaces to create a powerful sculptural quality.

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 as rare as affordable housing.

Each historic building's importance increases exponentially every time another piece of our local history is destroyed. The need to preserve this small slice of Sarasota's past becomes painfully obvious when one starts considering all the historic places that have been destroyed in favor of "progress."

Grant money is available for places on the Historic Register, especially if it is being renovated for public use. Contributions from local foundations, federal and state funds and matching grants could be explored.

If the worldwide response to this issue is any indication - and it should be - Riverview must be protected as a historic structure.

The powers that be have managed to whittle away much of what was an already very limited local history.

Do we really want to be remembered for destroying what little remains? Do we want that to be our legacy?

More on the Metropolis Film

The Pelican Press has a report this week about the film being produced by Metropolis Magazine concerning the planned demolition of Rudolph's Riverview High buildings:

Film will be seen around the country
Magazine making documentary on Rudolph buildings


An internationally known magazine that focuses on architecture and design is producing a documentary on the historic Paul Rudolph buildings at Riverview High School in Sarasota, which are scheduled to be demolished to make way for new facilities set to open for the 2009-2010 school year.

Susan S. Szenasy, editor of Metropolis magazine, told the Pelican Press that she had learned about the saga of the Rudolph buildings while she was researching historic architecture on the Internet.

In her commentary for the November issue of the magazine, which is based in New York City, Szenasy wrote of the primary Rudolph structure at Riverview, "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."

She added in the article, "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)."

The plan for the documentary, Szenasy told the Pelican, "is to take it around to large architects' offices and public meetings about architecture and planning." She added, "I have commitments to take it around the country. ... [People] are really interested in this."

She hopes to bring the film to Sarasota, as well.

The documentary crew arrived in Sarasota on Nov. 28 and completed its work on Dec. 3, Szenasy said. The magazine had secured permission from the Sarasota County School District to film at Riverview, said Sheila Weiss, supervisor of communications and public relations.

Interviews were conducted with numerous people, Szenasy said, including representatives of BMK Architects of Sarasota, which designed the new high school.

Among others interviewed were architect Carl Abbott, former Mayor Mollie Cardamone and former school board chairman Lee Byron, all of Sarasota. They are members of a group called Save Riverview, which is committed to finding a way to preserve the Rudolph structures at the high school.

Abbott and two other members of the group - including Mark Smith, incoming president of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects - most recently addressed the school board during public comments at the Nov. 21 meeting.

Editing of the film is to start by the end of the year and be completed in February or early March, Szenasy added. While she understands that members of the public have expressed concerns about the age of the main Rudolph building at the school, Szenasy said, "If we think that way [about other structures], then we might as well blow up our world and get the hell out of here. ... Old buildings have a lot of significance to us."

She found the main Rudolph structure at Riverview to be "so incredibly powerful and beautiful," though its state of disrepair, she added, was "really demoralizing and depressing."

Asked how it happened that Metropolis, a magazine, chose to take on a film project, Szenasy pointed out, "Magazines do all kinds of things these days. ... We're in the business of disseminating information." Film, she added, is "a natural progression."

Returning to the topic of the Rudolph building itself, Szenasy pointed out that "sustainable building" - designing and erecting structures that can endure over a long period of time - has become very important. "We have to talk about those issues in an open forum ... and create a public dialogue."

Szenasy ended her November column by asking, "Can we afford to lose Rudolph's legacy?"

Museum of Florida History Has an Exhibit of Architecture by Paul Rudolph

Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses Exhibition

December 14, 2006-February 11, 2007

The Museum opens a new exhibit on mid-century modern architecture by architect, Paul Rudolph. He was one of the architects whose work came to be known as the Sarasota School of Architecture. The book by the same title will be sold in the History Shop.

The flat roof and open horizontal plan were characteristics of the Rudolph style. The exhibit contains panels, photographs, and models representing the architect's work in Florida.

Museum of Florida History
R. A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250