Saturday, June 21, 2008

Article in Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Article published Jun 19, 2008

Too little, too late

Riverview High proposal received a fair hearing but fell shortIt was a lot to ask.

An aspirational concept, a detailed site plan, a solid business model, a list of prospective tenants, a show of money in the bank and multimillion-dollar financial commitments -- the Sarasota County School Board wanted it all.

By Tuesday night.The board's five members didn't get all they had sought from proponents of a proposal to redesign the reconstruction of Riverview High School and, in the process, restore an architecturally significant building and create an innovative music center.

So, the board voted 3-2 to reject the proposal and maintain the current plan for renovating Riverview, which includes the demolition of a 1958 building complex designed by a one-time Sarasotan, Paul Rudolph.

The decision pleased Riverview teachers, parents, students and others who feared that the redesign would delay the sorely needed renovation that's under way, shrink student facilities, reduce parking space and possibly leave the school district with an unsustainable project.

The decision disappointed architects, preservationists, arts leaders and others who wanted to save the Rudolph buildings and convert them into a cleverly conceived Riverview Music Quadrangle.

The proposal -- made by a first-class architectural firm, with the School Board's agreement and the support of both preservationists and architects -- was, in fact, aspirational, if not inspirational. It called for preservation and adaptation, as well as the introduction of more environmentally friendly features on the campus. The proposal was not simply about saving an "old" building, as some critics charged.

But the proposal materialized late in the life of the Riverview reconstruction project, which was years overdue but is proceeding on schedule. The architects' concept also lacked the level of specificity -- especially in economic terms -- that would have given more School Board members the assurance they needed to take a big leap of faith.

Opponents of redesigning the Riverview project and protecting the Rudolph buildings mischaracterized the decision facing the School Board as a no-brainer. The proposal deserved a fair hearing, and it received one: Board members rightly gave it a lot of thought.

As we wrote in an editorial before Tuesday's vote, the board was asking for a lot. But so were the proponents of redesigning the project.

The burden was on the proponents to meet the reasonable conditions; on the financial side, they didn't come close, leaving the board with no choice but to proceed as previously planned.

The architects who delivered the proposal deserved a better reception than they received in many sectors of the community. Their challenge to the community to dream about the possibilities of the Riverview Music Quadrangle was courageous and the designs were impressive but, sadly, the proposal wasn't tempered by reality.

NY Times Article About Riverview Decision

Time Is Running Out for a Celebrated Building

Of the many Modernist buildings Paul Rudolph designed in Sarasota, Fla., his stomping ground in the 1940s and ’50s, Riverview High School is among the most influential.

Not only is it a classic example of his early Sarasota style, with clean, horizontal planes; natural lighting; and inventive sunshades to cool the interiors, but it has also housed tens of thousands of students who have been schooled there in the last half-century.

This week the Sarasota County School Board cleared the way for the demolition of the building at the end of the 2008-9 school year. The board voted 3 to 2 not to proceed with a restoration proposed by preservationists that would turn the school, built in 1958, into a music conservatory.

School board members voting against the plan said the building’s defenders had failed to come up with a credible strategy to finance the restoration. They also said the project could jeopardize the future of a new Riverview High School building currently under construction on the tight 42-acre campus.

The entire story can be found here

Friday, June 20, 2008

Report on School Board Decision

School Board comments:

"When we granted the extension six months ago, why didn’t these questions come up? Now we’re looking for another extension? I’m just having a hard time with this." -–Sarasota County School Board Vice Chairwoman Caroline Zucker on the adaptive reuse project for Riverview High School during Tuesday’s school board meeting.

[TALK] No Saving Riverview

There were too many unanswered questions, school board members said, for an architectural proposal to turn famed architect Paul Rudolph’s Riverview building into a music quadrangle. School board members voted 3 to 2 on Tuesday to reject plans to save the building. During the meeting, Riverview students and parents asked the school board not to allow the music quadrangle to be constructed on campus, citing security and space concerns.

Architects pleaded with members to save the structure, which is listed on the World Monument Fund’s 100 Most Endangered Sites. “If you allow this vote to go yes, it will draw a lot of attention to this community,” said Joel May, president of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

School board members repeatedly asked architects representing the project how much total money the music quadrangle would cost and how much money was already raised. Architects explained they couldn’t get major foundations to donate to the project until it was approved.

“It (the project) seems to have morphed from this local group and now we’re talking about all these groups from New York and that area in all these contracts,” school board member Shirley Brown said. “You’re asking us to go into a contract with somebody…I don’t know who it is. I have the public trust of our local tax dollars. It seems so gray.”

From: PAGE 1 is produced by the editors and writers of SRQ: Sarasota's Premier Magazine, an e-mail newsletter.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rudolph Building To Be Demolished

"The district's plan calls for demolishing the original building and paving the site with a parking lot."

The Sarasota County School Board voted 3-2 to demolish Rudolph's historic building.

The full story is here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

School Board Votes to Tear Down Rudolph Building

From the SHT

Board votes to tear down historic building on Riverview campus
Tiffany Lankes
Published Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 7:06 p.m.Last updated Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 7:10 p.m.

Sarasota County — The School Board decided to move forward with plans to tear down historic buildings at Riverview High School, ending a two-year-long effort by local activists to save the structures.

The split vote — 3 to 2 — came after an hour of emotional comments from about 20 teachers, parents and architects forcing the board to weigh the value of preserving the building against what they say is the practicality of rebuilding a high school.

In the end, board members said their decision hung on whether the group trying to save the buildings could come up with enough money for the project.

Despite giving the group three months to come up with a financial plan, board members said they were not convinced the group could raise the funding and were afraid the district would get stuck with the old, deterioriated buildings.

“The time to show me the money was today,” said board member Shirley Brown. “I’m sorry.”

Monday, June 09, 2008

Message from Carl Abbott

Dear All,

On June 17 the Sarasota County School Board is going to make a final decision about demolishing or saving the original Riverview High School.

I am asking you to join me in urging them to vote in favor of preserving and rehabilitating this world-reknonwned architectural icon which was designed by architect Paul Rudolph in 1958.

Riverview High School is listed as one of the most important endangered buildings by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, by the National American Institute of Architects, Time Magazine, numerous publications around the world, and by the World Monument Foundation. Riverview High School is an important part of Sarasota's reputation as a Cultural Center.

Presently, the original School maintenance issues are extreme - the building is structurally sound as is stated in a 2004 Report. New York architect Diane Lewis has designed a handsome rehabilitation with the Riverview Music Quadrangle that will be a multi-purpose space for the musical arts.

Saving the building will not interfere with the new Riverview High School which is now under construction. The result will be a restored architectural gem with a vibrant musical life which all the community can enjoy. Letters and e-mails from you and your friends (the more, the better) can make a significant impact. Please write before June 17.

Thank you.

For more information, please go to the website of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation:

The school board members and their contact information follow:
Dr. Kathy Kleinlein, Chair
Mrs. Caroline Zucker
Mrs. Shirley Brown
Mrs. Carol Todd
Mr. Frank Kovach

You can write all five of them in one e-mail.

Sarasota County Schools; 1960 Landings Blvd; Sarasota, FL. 34231


Sunday, June 08, 2008

School Board Decision Near

The Sarasota School Board will be deciding next week whether to allow the proposal to save the Rudolph move forward.

A series of articles was publishedtoday in the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Current status

What is the Sarasota School of Architecture

Rudolph's Perplexing Legacy

Riverview Photos

Historcal Photos

New renderings of plans for Riverview

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


From a recent Pelican Press article:

Presentation on Music Quadrangle 'fires up' attendees

By Rachel Brown Hackney

Local preservationists working to save the original Paul Rudolph building at Riverview High School in Sarasota say they were pleased with the turnout last week at a fundraiser hosted by Northern Trust at its Ringling Boulevard offices.

More than 60 people - including Sarasota County School Board member Carol Todd - heard a revised presentation by New York City architect Diane Lewis about her plans for transforming the building into the Riverview Music Quadrangle. The plans call not only for use of the structure by students but as a setting for nationally and internationally known musicians who could work as artists in residence.

When the school board voted on March 4 to give the Sarasota Architectural Foundation a three-month extension on its efforts to put together a viable plan for the Music Quadrangle, Todd was an enthusiastic supporter of the project. She initially proposed the board give the SAF a six-month extension, before staff said that would hamper the August 2009 completion date for the new school if the Rudolph building ultimately had to be demolished.

Referring to the April 2 event, former Sarasota Mayor Mollie Cardamone told the Pelican Press, "I believe that we educated a lot of people as to the importance of our job" - to save the Rudolph building. Lewis "dazzled the audience" with her vision and with her talk of the significance of the building as an example of the Sarasota School of Architecture, Cardamone added.

Links: The rest of the story

Laurie Beckelman

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Riverview in the News

A good article in Metropolis:

Indigenous Design
Architecture in the twenty-first century can be intensely local—but only if we stop, look, and understand site and regional conditions.
By Susan S. Szenasy
Posted March 19, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The process continues

The latest information from Sarasota:

From the Pelican Press:

Group wins reprieve for Rudolph buildin
By Rachel Brown Hackney

The request was for six months, the staff proposed six weeks, but in the end, the Sarasota County School Board voted 4-1 on March 4 to give the Sarasota Architectural Foundation a three-month extension to get plans and funds in place to save the historic Paul Rudolph structure at Riverview High School.

The lone "No" vote came from board member Frank Kovach, who has made his position known on numerous occasions that he would prefer to see the building razed on the campus where new facilities are scheduled to open for the 2009-2010 school year.

Kovach said the board had given the Revive Rudolph's Riverview group and SAF a year since a design charrette organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation was held in March 2007 to find a way to save the 1958 Rudolph building, "and I have not seen any kind of forward motion."

However, board member Carol Todd pointed to a presentation earlier in the evening about the plans for transforming the original 1920s Sarasota High School building into a museum of modern and contemporary art along with studios for Ringling College of Art and Design students."

If anyone had told me when I voted [to allow the museum plans to go forward] that they would be where they are today," Todd said, she would not have believed them. "I am awed by where they are today."

Further, Todd said, "How do you ask people for millions of dollars if you don't have [a firm] commitment" from the school board. It would be a good faith effort, she added, for the board to give the SAF the full six-month extension.

Board member Shirley Brown agreed that it would be hard for the SAF to raise money without a commitment from the board. Still, she said she felt the board first needs to see where the group was with its efforts to save the structure.

"Does this plan have dollars in it that make sense?" When Vice Chairman Caroline Zucker asked whether a three-month extension would have any negative impact on the construction of the new school, Chief Operating Officer Scott Lempe responded that it would not. However, he said, "Six months makes me real nervous."

Kovach also pointed out that the Music Quadrangle plan for the building, envisioned by New York City architect Diane Lewis, was not the type of future the board had foreseen when it approved an April 17, 2007, resolution with the SAF. "

They seem to want to use our resources.""All I hear is 'we,' 'they,' 'we,' 'they,' " Todd responded. "Are we going to partner with them or are we going to parcel out the barrels so they will never be successful?"

Superintendent Gary Norris told the board an SAF representative had phoned him to say that district staff "had potentially delayed them by six weeks" in working on their site plans and fundraising. " I told him immediately I wanted to make it right." That was why staff had suggested the six-week extension, he added.

Chairman Kathy Kleinlein noted that Lewis' design entails moving athletic fields and reconfiguring other parts of the new campus - something that was not a factor with the historic SHS building. However, she added, "I like the idea of the Music Quadrangle. ... I would be in favor of giving them three months more. I think that's more than fair."

After the vote, SAF Chairman Les Fishman told the Pelican Press, "Three months is better than nothing." As Todd had pointed out, he continued, it was difficult to raise funds without a commitment from the board.Further, he said that, in light of the economic downturn, it would be very difficult in the Sarasota area, or even in the United States, to raise all the money needed to save the building. However, with Rudolph fans all over the world, he said, the SAF, could seek international support.

Mark Smith of Siesta Key, immediate past president of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects, was delighted on March 5 to hear about the board's vote. " That's excellent. That's much, much better."

A civil engineer with the WilsonMiller firm in Naples is working with SAF to oversee the necessary site work to enable Lewis' plan to blend with the new Riverview, he said. The first round of fundraising for the Lewis plan will cover that consultant's expenses, he added."It's such a worthwhile project," he said of the Music Quadrangle. "I'm glad that the school board's giving it every opportunity to succeed."
Earlier articles in the Pelican Press describing the process are listed below:

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Current Status of Saving the Rudolph Building

The Pelican Press has an editorial this week that summarizes the current status of this effort:

Rudolph building finally has real hope for rescue

A year and a half ago, we would have laid better than even odds that the original Paul Rudolph structure at Riverview High School ultimately would face the wrecking ball. Now this community has before it a clear vision for the building's rescue and resurrection.

Fortunately both the conservationists fighting to save this fine example of the Sarasota School of Architecture and the Sarasota County School Board members were able to push beyond their almost childlike petulance in debating its future and work toward common ground. They managed to pave the way for what we find is a magnificent means of saving a piece of history while making Sarasota's cultural star shine even more brightly.

The intervention of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in holding a "charrette" last March to ponder just how the Rudolph building could be saved was invaluable in this process. As a result, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation was able to fund and hold a competition seeking a viable future for the structure. That competition produced a proposal for a Music Quadrangle that would build upon Riverview's much-deserved reputation as a Music Demonstration School in this state.

The SAF will have until March 15 to prove that the Music Quadrangle is more than just a designer's dream, but given architect Diane Lewis' passion for her proposal, we truly believe it can become a reality.

Speak to Lewis for just a few minutes and you will know not only that she is absolutely committed to saving the Rudolph building and restoring it to its former luster but that she wants to use her many resources to expand on just the type of activity that the Itzhak Perlman Music Program has become for Sarasota. She wants to see other world-class musicians as artists in residence working with young people on the Riverview campus, and musical programs open to the public to showcase internationally known stars and the next generation who will be following in their footsteps.

When the school board met with Lewis and SAF epresentatives on Dec. 11, we heard a lot of concerns raised about the work that will have to be done - with the new school already under way - to make the Music Quadrangle fit on the redeveloped campus. Yet, we also heard Diane Lewis say those obstacles are in no way insurmountable.

Of course, the final act in this process belongs to the school board. Come March, its five members will decide once and for all whether Paul Rudolph's original vision for Riverview High will be burnished in a new use or left only as a memory in the pages of architectural students' textbooks.

If Diane Lewis and the SAF fulfill their part of the bargain, as we believe they will, then it should be very easy for the school board to give them their blessings to proceed.

In the Sarasota Herald Tribune there is a podcast of the Herald Tribune's real estate editor, Harold Bubil, interview with Diane Lewis. It is titled:

The case for Rudolph's Riverview
Architect Diane Lewis explains her team's proposal for the reuse of the Paul Rudolph-designed building at Riverview High School. The world is watching, she says.