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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

arewell to Riverview!
To thee we guard the memory...
Sheila Bliss
Other - Ceremony
Saturday, May 23, 2009
8:00am - 12:00pm
Riverview High School
1 Ram Way
Sarasota, FL

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