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June, the Riverview campus -- which includes "Sarasota School of Architecture" designs by Rudolph -- is overcrowded, outdated and rundown.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.


Anonymous said...

High schools need to be progessive and can only be if they understand and embrace the past. Most progressive high schools soon become magnet schools and perhaps this one should become a magnet school for architecture. They students can then study and eventually preserve their own building. Hold on to this old school building for the students sake and build around it if necessary.

Stephanie Smith said...

Let me comment on this as a Riverview High School student. You may quote this as you wish.

I realize the school is famous for its architecture, but it is dangerous to us as students. We need a new school, and soon.

On rainy days, every single hallway becomes wet. Someone slips every minute, in every corner of the entire school. I have slipped many times myself, even when watching my step. The hallway design causes this water to stay, even after it has stopped raining.

Last year, an A/C unit broke in a teacher's classroom, dumping thousands of gallons of glycol on the entire classroom. The room had to be closed off and sealed to remove asbestos. It put the entire school and faculty in danger.

This is only one example of problems teachers face daily, because of these old buildings.

I would continue to go on, but that would take much longer.

No editorial writer, or anyone who does not work or attend Riverview can truly say they know the condition of the school, since they have not had to deal with the old buildings and safety hazards.

We need new buildings, quickly, and all this controversy on saving old architecture is slowing it down, putting the student body and staff at risk more everyday.