Posts tagged with "Sarasota":

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Selby Library by SOM’s Walter Netsch may be demolished in Sarasota bayfront project

A Walter Netschdesigned library is under threat as plans move forward for a much-anticipated, community-backed bayfront development in Sarasota, Florida. On Thursday, September 6, the city’s planning board voted 3-2 to approve phase 1 of The Bay project, a 53-acre recreational and cultural complex which indirectly calls for the demolition of the old Selby Public Library building. According to Sarasota Vice-Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch, zero consideration was given to the fate of the 30,000-square-foot structure despite other historic buildings being saved on site. “My biggest issue with this is that the proper process isn’t being taken to determine the library’s future,” she said. “Why is the first step of creating this legacy project destroying a former legacy project?” The Selby Public Library, designed under Netsch's lead at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill in 1976, sits on an underutilized waterfront plot that’s been eyed for large-scale development for over a decade. The building, now known as the G.Wiz Science Museum, has been empty for six years and costs the city $40,000 annually to maintain. Ahearn-Koch and other G.Wiz advocates claimed that leading up to an early September special planning meeting, neither the city nor the public had been officially notified of the decision to take the building down. She also said the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization (SBPO), which is spearheading the effort, did not provide sufficient evidence for the $10.5-million cost the group estimated that it would take to rehabilitate the 42-year-old structure. The SBPO only provided a presentation with pictures of the proposal, which did not include the G.Wiz building. “Before you talk about why you can’t save a building and repurpose it, you have to discuss the historical and cultural value of it and then figure out how much it will cost,” Ahearn-Koch said. Following the SBPO’s presentation, locals took over the two-hour comment period citing concerns over G.Wiz. According to Ahearn-Koch, the city received countless emails calling for its preservation, but the SBPO team claimed they never received any pleas to save it prior to the meeting. Now the group says it will welcome ideas on how to reuse the building as part of The Bay.  Sarasota boasts a rich architectural legacy and a burgeoning development scene that often gets overshadowed by mega-projects nearby in Miami. The Sarasota School of Architecture includes an incredible roster of modernist buildings by architects such as Paul Rudolph, William Rupp, Mark Hampton, and Ralph Twitchell. According to Vassar College Professor of Art Nick Adams, Netsch’s Selby Public Library, while not widely known compared to Netch's other projects, is a pure demonstration of "field theory," the late architect’s approach to designing architecture around unique geometries suited to the program and environment. “It’s not a building that’s very well-covered in Netsch literature,” said Adams. “But it’s quite ingenious how the shapes of the building have a residence within the location that’s very attractive. There aren’t very many field theory buildings that are still active in their original function. I do hope before they swing the wrecking ball that the city does a proper recording of what was there and what changes were done.” Local architect Dale Parks completed an award-winning retrofit of the library in 2000, transforming it into G.Wiz and adding a soaring glass atrium to Netsch’s design. Parks believes his work didn’t inherently warp the SOM building’s original character. As an expert on the structure, he outright denies any claims that it did.  “We tried to respect SOM’s construction as much as possible, and I know it would be quite easy to restore it,” Parks said. “Whatever repurpose it may have in the future, it’s definitely not going to be a library because the layout doesn’t pertain to future use. But the outside of the building is still there.” The top arguments for taking down the building are that it doesn’t stand up to current FEMA standards and would need to be significantly elevated, and that the city is spending too much money on its upkeep as tenants have shied away from staking claim to it over the past several years. Commissioner Hagen Brody, who voted yes to approve phase 1 of The Bay in favor of demolishing G.Wiz, recognizes its importance but believes removing it from the site will serve a greater good. “The community overwhelmingly wanted green space, not buildings or redevelopment on that site,” he said. "With all of that, the choice was pretty clear. A vote against moving forward with phase 1 would have sent the whole project back to the drawing board after years of public input and would have seriously jeopardized the entire effort as well as fundraising. I believe these are tough decisions, but it’s a positive change for Sarasota and that’s the definition of progress.” The initial build out of The Bay, led by a nearly all-female team from Boston-based planning firm Sasaki, would turn 10 acres of the site’s southern portion into a new public park by 2020. After being selected for the project last October, the team has worked with the SBPO and held an exhaustive community engagement process to shape the final master plan, first revealed in May and updated Friday. Susannah Ross, Gina Ford, and Christine Dunn conceived a grand park and cultural community less than a mile away from Sarasota’s beloved Boulevard of the Arts. One of the structures on the site, the lavender-colored Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall designed by Taliesin Associated Architects in 1969, is included in Sasaki’s latest renderings, only after a major public outcry occurred over its absence in the initial images. Christopher Wilson, president of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, said the specific reuse of Van Wezel isn’t clear, but it’s more or less saved.  “Saving Van Wezel and not G.Wiz makes no sense,” Wilson said. “From the beginning, this building has not gotten the proper attention that it should. The excuse that it’s in the floodplain and not up to FEMA standards is not a reason to demolish it. The city is throwing around the $10 million number prematurely with incomplete evidence.”   Wilson also noted there are five other aging structures on site that have been deemed part of Sarasota’s cultural zone: the Municipal Auditorium (1938), Chidsey Library (1941), Arts Center Sarasota (1949), the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce (1956), and the Garden Club of Sarasota (1959). These buildings will remain during the construction of The Bay. In a letter sent to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune last weekend, Eric Keune, design director at SOM Chicago, provided a list of five ways G.Wiz could be adapted for reuse, including making it an open-air pavilion, a co-working space, or a satellite studio for the University of Florida architecture program. The Architect’s Newspaper was sent a copy of the text, though it has yet to be published. In his argument, Keune wrote that though the structure today is undoubtedly not the Selby Public Library, he believes the building, along with Netsch’s original vision, is still inside it and “only needs to be (re) discovered.” Vice-Mayor Ahearn-Koch feels the same way. For her, this fight is personal and she thinks people need to act fast, as Keune did, if they have ideas. "All too often in this city we do demolition by neglect and this is a perfect example of that," she said. "This is such a stunning building. I remember going to the big stack as a student, checking out a book and going off into one of the side nooks to read. I still feel this can be a very useful building for the future of Sarasota. Our arts community, including our architecture, is who we are, and I just don't see the logic in destroying it." Sarasota's Historic Preservation Board voted unanimously to recommend the SBPO and city commission find a new tenant for G.Wiz, pursue alternative renovation plans, as well as host more community workshops as phase 1 plans move forward. This is the third time in two years the advisory group has advocated for the building. 
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Machado Silvetti delivers a glazed ceramic facade for the Ringling Museum of Art

The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida, is famed for its ornate Venetian-Gothic Cà d’Zan mansion. Translated, “Cà d’Zan” means “House of John,” referring to John Ringling, who shared the residence with his wife, Mable.

In 1924, construction started on the mansion that was designed by New York architect Dwight James Baum. His design embodied the palazzos that line the Venice canals, emulating the Italian decor that the Ringlings fell in love with on their many trips to the Mediterranean. The building also typified the Roaring Twenties. More than 90 years on, however, the Cà d’Zan remains the showpiece structure on the Ringling Museum site. Boston firm Machado Silvetti used it as a precedent for the building’s recently completed extension of the Asian Art Study Center.

This new project includes the conversion of approximately 18,000 square feet of preexisting gallery space from a temporary exhibition area to permanent galleries. Catering to the museum’s developing Asian collection, the scheme also includes a gut renovation of the west-wing galleries, located to the southwest.

The most visually striking aspect of the project, though, is the shimmering terra-cotta-tiled facade. Craig Mutter of Machado Silvetti said the facade is meant to act as a guide to visitors, highlighting the entrance to the building.

“People would often be lost and wander into the loading-bay area,” Mutter said. “There was no visual key to tell you where to go, and so the mission of the project was to provide this clear marker and definitive entrance.”

The client had asked for a “monumental” entrance, for “something that did not currently exist on the site.” What resulted were more than 3,000 jade-colored ceramic tiles cladding the elevated extension. Their color, Mutter said, is a nod to the natural surroundings and opposes the original pink Italian campus.

In terms of procuring the tiles, the firm sought the help of Boston Valley Terra Cotta, who also worked on the renovation of the Cà d’Zan in 1999. Such experience gave Mutter and his team confidence that they could work successfully to deliver the facade they wanted.

In fact, a ceramic skin was something that had intrigued Machado Silvetti for quite some time. “We had done a number of facade screens in the past where we had been interested in using ceramic but for one reason or another were not able to do so, usually because of the available technology at the time,” said Mutter.

Originally, they had planned for the tiles to be both larger and thicker. However, the dimensions were reduced by four inches on each side and two inches in thickness to allow Boston Valley to fire more panels inside their kiln.

The tiles also enabled the firm to deliver a high-performance envelope. Their large mass helped combat heat gain while also acting as a barrier between the envelope and the elements. “The program demanded a constantly monitored climate control; that meant we really wanted to ensure that there was a continuous insulated seal,” Mutter explained. “By using the panel system that we adopted, we essentially used a rain-screen system to allow the continuous insulation and air-vapor barrier to wrap the museum.”

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Machado Silvetti’s modern addition to historically significant Ringling Estate

The new pavilion features 2750 individual terra cotta modules, weighing in at 60-70 pounds each.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, part of a historic 66-acre estate in Sarasota, Florida has received a striking new pavilion designed by Machado Silvetti to house new gallery and multi-purpose lecture space. Officially called the Center for Asian Art in the Dr. Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art, the project features a custom glazed sculptural terra cotta clad volume elevated off the ground, and attached to the museum’s West Wing galleries via glass bridge. The new 7500 sq. ft. pavilion establishes a new monumental entrance to the museum, and assists in the reorganization of site circulation and infrastructure systems. Teaming with Boston Valley Terra Cotta, the architects developed a cladding strategy to respond to specific environmental, programmatic, and budgetary criteria. The project is inspired by lush foliage and historic architectural ornamentation found within the Ringling estate. Craig Mutter, Principal at Machado Silvetti, says the gallery-based program of the new addition led the project team to considering a conventionally constructed box with very few windows, to reduce glare: “We put our design energies into creating a high performance building envelope.” Machado Silvetti teamed with Boston Valley Terra Cotta, an upstate New York-based architectural terra cotta manufacturer. “We were involved very early in the process," says Bill Pottle, Boston Valley International Sales Manager. "We went from hand sketches to a 3D digital format where we were able to go back and forth with the architect and talk about different sizes. This helped us rationalize and execute the project to fit into both manufacturing and budget parameters." The tiling of the facade was achieved with three primary shapes optimized to the rack size of the kilns utilized in the production of the modules – a 24” square, a 24” portal framing a window opening, and an 18” square. All together, with custom pieces at corners and end conditions, no more than 10 unique shapes were required. The repetitions allowed for efficiencies in the production process, which paired digital modeling and fabrication with hand craft. The modules were made one at a time, weighing between 60-70 pounds apiece. In total, 2750 three-dimensionally shaped ceramic modules were installed on the building. This manufacturing method became a significant constraint on the architectural design, said James Smokowski, Project Manager at Boston Valley. "The size limitation of the RAM drove a number of design changes from the architect.” Initially calling for a 60" x 60" tiled piece, the architects revamped their design to fit within the dimensional constraint of the kiln equipment. Rhino3D models were prototyped into shells using a 5-axis mill, which became the formwork for a hydraulically operated RAM press.
  • Facade Manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Architects Machado Silvetti
  • Facade Installer Key Glass (windows), Sun Tile (terra cotta)
  • Facade Consultants Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Stirling and Wilbur Engineering Group (structural engineering)
  • Location Sarasota, FL
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System custom terra cotta rainscreen on concrete frame with concrete block infill
  • Products custom terra cotta modules attached to modified Terraclad track from Boston Valley, YKK glass units
A sense of depth was established both by the chiseled three-dimensional form of the ceramic modules and a custom green glaze developed by Boston Valley. Due to the geometry of the modules, the glaze pools in the concavities creating a coating with variable depth. The terra cotta modules were installed on a modified version of Boston Valley’s standard Terraclad stainless steel track and clip system over a standard wall construction of concrete framework infilled with concrete block units. This detailing allowed for cost savings and assisted in the pre-qualification of terra cotta installers. Adjustments to the stock rainscreen system were made to create a consistent 3/8” gap around the full perimeter of each modules, ensuring individual pieces are able to be removed and replaced in the event of any damage. Windows were used sparingly on the facade, composed into clusters where interior program can accommodate some glare. These “clouds” of windows occur in the third floor meeting room along the north facade, and are distributed throughout the facade with careful attention to reducing glare within the gallery space. Despite having significant views to the picturesque Sarasota Bay, windows are used sparingly as accents – tiny portals which nearly disappear into the tiling of the facade. Rodolfo Machado, Principal at Machado Silvetti, says this compositional decision was deliberate: "Perhaps the most effective windows are in the third floor conference room. Here, small windows carefully framing the landscape are quite effective – almost like looking at a painting. In this case, fewer smaller windows work better." Through this modern addition to the Ringling Museum campus, the architects were able to solve programmatic day to day operational issues at The Ringling, which was a big win says Craig Mutter, Principal at Machado Silvetti: “We are particularly proud of this project because our mission was to create a striking addition to this area of the museum that would be a beacon to the visitors on the campus. But we were also able to solve day to day problems the museum was facing, from way finding to operations, to conservation lab connections. We feel this project will have a very big long term impact for the Museum."
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Rudolph’s Walker Guest House replicated at the Ringling Museum of Art

It's no Palace of Versailles, but the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) has reproduced Paul Rudolph's 1952 Walker Guest House on the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art. Using Rudolph's plans and Ezra Stoller's interior photographs, the foundation commissioned a faithful replica, down to the magazines on the coffee table. The replica will cost SAF approximately $150,000. It will be faithful to the original, minus the bathroom, which will be supplanted by a wheelchair-accessible ramp. The house will welcome visitors starting November 6th, part of opening festivities for SAF's SarasotaMOD Weekend. The original Walker Guest House is a 24-foot-by-24-foot foot structure constructed from "off the shelf" materials for the Walker family on Sanibel Island, off the Gulf Coast. The house still stands. Why build a replica? As SAF board member Dan Snyder explained, unlike other cities tearing Rudolph's architecture down, Sarasota is a "city that loves Rudolph." The Walker Guest House is privately owned, and Sanibel Island is only accessible via boat. The Ringling has 250,000 annual visitors, so having the replica house on its grounds will introduce Rudolph's work, and the Sarasota School of Architecture, to a wider audience. Indigenous to Florida's west coast, the Sarasota School melded the international style with the organic school of Frank Lloyd Wright while responding to the demands of a subtropical climate. The Walker Guest house, Snyder noted, "blurs the distinction between inside and outside, stealing space from the outside so the house seems much larger." The house is calibrated to respond to the seasons. Its three, eight-foot-by-eight-foot panels are flanked by retractable exterior shades that shield the house from excessive summer sun, but allow light to penetrate in the winter, when the temperature drops into the 60s. Its exoskeleton functions as a wraparound porch and a support system for the pulleys, weighted with red concrete balls, that control the shades. Members of the SAF visited the original house to document the interior and exterior for the replica project. To many, "1950s Florida" means tacky pastels and a flock of lawn flamingos. In contrast (or perhaps in protest), Rudolph's interior color palette is subdued grey to "draw [your] eye to the outside," Snyder explained. Referencing Stoller's photographs, the Rudolph-designed coffee table, dining table, bookcase, and sofa were reproduced. Queens-based furniture designer Richard Wrightman was commissioned to recreate the living room's officer's chairs. Adhering strictly to their standards of authenticity, the team purchased Time, Fortune, and Playboy magazines from 1953, and placed them as they appear in Stoller's images. A parallel exhibition, Paul Rudolph: The Guest Houses, at the Ringling features photographs, models, drawings, and writings. The exhibition runs through December 6th.
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The public asked to help save this Paul Rudolph shelter in Sarasota, Florida

  Why is Paul Rudolph—like much of Brutalism—so unloved by officialdom? His Orange County Government in Goshen, New York has been under threat of demolition by local government for several years. Now an elegant canopy the architect designed and built in 196o for Sarasota High School in Florida may also end up in a local landfill. Rudolph designed the elongated covering to connect the School with a new addition he designed behind it’s main brick building. The addition is undergoing a thorough renovation and the main building is being taken over by the Ringling College of Art & Design to become a midtown exhibition space. The Ringling wants to renovate the old school and argued that the canopy sits in the way of construction workers and materials entering the building. Ringling College claimed: "We are removing...only the area necessary to continue renovation of the historic Sarasota High School building. We also believe, but do not have final corroboration, that the section we are taking down is also not part of the original Paul Rudolph design but was added on later." But now several groups from Sarasota Architectural Foundation and Docomomo are asking the Ringling to hold off on the demolition. They are also asking the public to contact Larry Thompson (941-359-7601 or 941-365-7603), president of The Ringling College of Art & Design, and ask him to save the Rudolph canopies and incorporate them into the permanent collection of the new museum.
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Sarasota architects hope to preserve Mid-Century Modernism in Florida

The style of architecture known as "mid-century modern" is a cousin to the "International style." A popular combination of European stylistic tendencies and domestic American influences, including furniture design, it has become an influential catch all term for distinguished post-World War II structures and commercial tract homes (like the Eichler Homes). While the style has become widely popular in lifestyle magazines like Dwell and even replicated in new suburban developments, the original homes are being regularly torn down and being replaced with bloated McMansions that have shoe closets the size of the former mid-century living rooms. But the style has a huge following and a number of organizations to highlight and preserve is monuments. Docomomo has been in the lead highlighting these structures and Palm Springs was one of the first city to host a "modernism week." The latest city to create a week of activities devoted to the style is Sarasota, Florida, which along with Palm Springs and New Canaan, Connecticut, were experimental centers of the style. The Florida city also had a gifted number of architects working in the style: Paul Rudolph and his early mentor Ralph Twitchell, Gene Leedy, Victor Lundy, Tim Seibert, and Carl Abbott. The four day event of lectures, city and house tours that took place this fall was a model of how a community can highlight its unique but disappearing history. The week was created the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (founded by Martie Lieberman, a realtor who specializes in the style of homes) which is trying to promote the city's modern architecture. It hopes to raise awareness of the style so its buildings can be preserved, updated, and even become a model of a future architecture that is more responsive to needs and demands than the typical McMansion. Sarasota prides itself on its modern history and was a unique crossroads of culture, commerce, and environment after World War II that helped birth this style. The week also highlighted the fascinating figure of Philip Hiss III who moved to the beach community in 1948 and became a major figure in the community. He was chair of its education department (which commissioned Paul Rudolph to design two high schools) and a developer of the modernist community Lido Shores. The Foundation is hoping to make their week an annual affair and the area has the modern assets to make it work.
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Iconic works by Paul Rudolph to be celebrated in Sarasota, Florida

In 1948, Paul Rudolph was residing at the American Academy in Rome. He had traveled there to study classical architecture, but was instead spending his days designing modern houses for Sarasota, Florida. In fact, Sarasota, according to Timothy Rohan who has recently published a monograph on Rudolph, made a huge impression on the architect and defined his work for the rest of his career. He had moved there to apprentice and work for the local architect Ralph Twitchell, who in the 1940s helped create a style of modern house that eventually became known as the Sarasota school. The sleepy seaside village had become like Palm Springs, California and New Canaan, Connecticut—a laboratory of modernism—because, as Rohan explains, its "cultured winter time residents were open to architectural experimentation in their second homes." From October 9–12, 2014, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, will be staging “SarasotaMOD Week[end],” a four-day celebration of the region’s iconic mid-20th-century architecture, particularly its oceanside houses and famous public schools. Leading architects, designers, historians, and authors like Carl Abbott, John Howey, Joe King (co-author of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses), Lawrence Scarpa, Tim Seibert, landscape architect Raymond Jungles, and author, critic, and filmmaker Alastair Gordon will explore the ongoing impact of this movement through presentations, panel discussions and tours. For more information and to register for the weekend, click here.