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