The years: 1941 to 1966
The place: Sarasota, Florida
The story: Inflected by local climate, construction practices, regional culture, and Florida life-style, the work of the Sarasota School of Architecture founded by Ralph Twitchell and counting Paul Rudolph, Edward "Tim" Seibert, Mark Hampton, Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, Jack West and Carl Abbott among its practitioners, marks a high point in the development of regional modernism in American architecture.
In Europe after World War I, a startling new approach to architectural design emerged. The International style (or Bauhaus as it was known under the European school that taught it) turned its back on historic precedent and exploited the new materials and technologies of the day. Traditional decorative elements or references to past architectural styles were swept away, producing a minimalist architecture of flat-roofed buildings with smooth, unornamented walls and delicate, carefully proportioned facades.
While the Sarasota School found its inspiration in part from the philosophies of the Bauhaus, it incorporated forms of regional Southern architecture, using patios, verandas, modular construction and raised floors to open up its buildings for greater ventilation in pre-air conditioning days. The style added a play of light and shadow, and the color and texture of indigenous low maintenance materials, softening the cold machine aesthetic of the Bauhaus. This approach to design strengthened the connection between architecture and environment, allowing Sarasota School buildings to respect and blend well into their sites. The result was a regional modernism which blurred the distinction between the indoors and outdoors and accommodated the lifestyle and climate of southern Florida.
"Sarasota in the 1950s was one of the most important places
in the world for architectural creativity, where the greatest design movements of the day came together."
— Carl Abbott FAIA, original member of the Sarasota School of Architecture
Photo above, L-R: Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, William Rupp, Tim Seibert,
Bert Brosmith and Paul Rudolph
Tour Sarasota Architecture
Join SAF and receive a free copy of the self-driving Tour Sarasota booklet as part of your membership. Tour Sarasota is also available for a $20 donation to SAF. Email to request a copy.
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Tour Sarasota Architecture is a two-hour driving tour that explores Sarasota’s architecturally significant buildings. It received the 2010 Outstanding Preservation Education / Media award from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. www.floridatrust.org
Developed by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, with support from the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB), The Ringling College of Art + Design, the Gulfcoast Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Sarasota County History Center in 2009. The Ringling College of Art + Design adopted the project as part of its Ringling College Design Center – a program where advanced students take on community design projects for school credit.
Tour Sarasota provides a great overview to Sarasota's rich architectural heritage with the majority of the featured buildings celebrating a body of regional architecture called the Sarasota School of Architecture, built between 1940 and 1970.