Bubil: Readers argue for preservation


First, a definition, for those who may be new to the area or confused by local terminology. The "Sarasota school of architecture" is, or was, a way of thinking about building design that took hold here from 1941 through 1966, although some contemporary architects still adhere to its principles.

It was not a college or organization, which is why I don't capitalize the phrase. Rather, Sarasota school architects, under the influence of architect Ralph Twitchell and the patronage of developer/School Board chairman Phil Hiss, adapted International Style modernism to subtropical Florida.

Now that we are clear on that, some reader comments (and reaction):


"I would like to see a permanent exhibit at the Ringling Museum dedicated to the "Sarasota school of architecture." Perhaps if we had this exhibit, some of excellent examples of "the school" in the county might have been spared by the wrecking ball.

"The destruction of some of the examples is no different than destroying a master art work. ... The blame lies on private people, on Casey Key, and (in) the rest of the county, to the Sarasota School Board. The Sarasota school of architecture is recognized worldwide and somewhat ignored in Sarasota. How about it, Ringling?"

— Carl Cabot


In response: The Sarasota County Visitor Information and History Center has hosted exhibitions on the "Sarasota school," and now is showing one by Marty Hylton of the University of Florida titled, "The Building Itself Teaches," on Sarasota County's 1950s school construction program.

The UF architecture school is planning a "City Lab" in downtown Sarasota that will offer a master's degree in architecture, and its building, on Orange Avenue, may house a permanent exhibit on the Sarasota school.


"Mr. Bubil, Thank you for the insight you provided in your May 5, 2013, article 'Best not to call it preservation.' I am a volunteer with the Venice Circus Arts Foundation, a group that has been trying to save the historic Venice Circus Arena for the last several years. While it's not identical to saving modernism, it is still along the same line to saving a valuable historical asset that can be productive again. We have not had much success and seem to be "blocked" by the city in most of our efforts. The most recent is the city code enforcement officer condemning the city-owned building.

"You can imagine my interest in the quote in your article from Theo Prudon, president of Docomomo-U.S. and a preservation architect. He observes, 'Some owners deliberately let their building fall into blight so they can be torn down.' Exactly what happened to the Circus Arena.

"He further states, 'The willful neglect of maintenance leads to a perception that ultimately leads to demolition.' That others have experienced this process and that '... it is a very deliberate process' provides the understanding to what has happened in Venice."

— Larry Ivey, Venice

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: May 11, 2013
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