Architect urges school board to delay SHS vote


Architect Greg Hall of Sarasota has sent a letter to the Sarasota County School Board urging to to delay its vote on the plan to rehabilitate Building 4 at Sarasota High SchoolDear School Board Members,

 "I am writing to ask that you to delay your vote on the request for reallocation of space at the SHS Rudolph Buildings no.4 (classroom) and no. 5 (old gymnasium) to enable the School District's preservation architect an opportunity to review and provide their input on the proposed plan in its entirety," wrote Hall, himself a preservation architect who has consulted with the Sarasota Architectural Foundation in its efforts to preserve the original character of the building.

 "All preservation projects require striking a balance between a broad range of requirements. In regards to the Paul Rudolph buildings at Sarasota High School, we know this list includes student safety, providing the proper platform for 21st century learning, maintaining the budget, and affecting a rehabilitation that recognizes and respects the buildings' unique character," Hall wrote.

"With careful consideration it can be stated the buildings' "inside-outside" nature is most important from an architectural perspective," Hall continued. "The relationship of solid (wall) and void (windows) openings, the placement of the sun shading systems, the dimension and proportion of overhangs, and the development of vertical passageways for convective cooling at the building interior were brought together into a unique composition by Rudolph. These elements all serve to integrate these buildings into their special site and demonstrate Rudolph's preoccupation with what has been called the 'inside-outside.'

"In the past two weeks, while at the District's Construction Services offices, I was allowed to review the schematic design drawings prepared by project architect Harvard Jolly. I understand further-developed versions of these drawings are being presented to you today. It is clear that the amount of program area required to fit within the fixed confines of the existing building envelop exceed the capacity of the original design. Rather than make an addition outside the building footprint, the Harvard Jolly plan is to expand internally by eliminating the unique double-height central hallway. In my view, this design direction will result in a loss of essential character.

"Given the gravity of this decision, I would say it deserves the full participation of the School District's preservation architect, Jonathan Parks Architect, to assist with confirming the best way forward. In a conversation with Mr. Parks yesterday, I learned that his office's involvement has been limited to recommending treatments for the exterior facade of Building 4 only. He has not been involved with any of the proposed interior work nor with any of the work that is planned for Building 5. It is regrettable the School District is not getting the benefit of all the tools they have at their disposal. With Mr. Parks' assistance I believe the School District could arrive at the proper balance of all identified educational and architectural preservation objectives."

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: February 19, 2013
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published without permissions. Links are encouraged.