Meritorious architectural work


Carl Abbott has no idea how many houses he has designed in the 47 years he has had his own architectural practice.

“I could look it up,” he said. But it’s not that important to him. He’s not running a production line.

Designed by Carl Abbott, FAIA, the Putterman House in Sarasota's Lido Shores has won AIA-FloridaCaribbean's 25-year Test of Time Award. (Courtesy photo)

Designed by Carl Abbott, FAIA, the Putterman House in Sarasota's Lido Shores has won AIA-FloridaCaribbean's 25-year Test of Time Award. (Courtesy photo)

He also has no intention of retiring. “Why?” he asked.

Good point. Abbott is still doing award-winning work, although with a smaller staff than the 10 employees he once had.


But it was one of his older works that earned him a high honor at the recent convention of the American Institute of Architects’ Florida/Caribbean chapter in Orlando. The Putterman house, home to Sol and artist Florence Putterman on Morningside Drive in Lido Shores, was given the “Test of Time” Merit Award during the 2013 Design Awards presentation.

Abbott also won the Merit Award of Excellence for Renovation for his Zen Retreat, at an undisclosed mainland location.

A Merit Award for Unbuilt Design was presented to Sarasota’s Guy Peterson OFA for the “Alameda Pavilions,” a study of how a bayfront site on Alameda Avenue in Sarasota could be redeveloped with a new modernist house and the renovation of existing cottages as a guest house and office.

Two awards were given for unbuilt projects, as opposed to the seven to 10 normally awarded, said Guy Peterson. “We were really pleased to get it. Unfortunately it will not be built.”

“It is something we are proud of,” said the architect. “It is for a large waterfront property with a series of old buildings on it. The client wanted to see what could be done to renovate the old structures and build a new home.

“For us, it was an exploration of ideas — simplicity, pure form, transparency and minimalism with a Miesian type of pavilion. You can look through it and under it and see the water.”

Peterson’s office also won the state AIA’s “Firm of the Year” award, the first time a Sarasota firm has won it.

Abbott’s “Test of Time” award shows the enduring quality of one of his works from the 1980s. But his practice has endured the test of time, as well.

“I have no sense of time,” he said. “Time means nothing to me. It is a vague thing. It seems like that house has always been there; I remember the details of putting it together, even offering them two concepts early on.

“Architects are visual people. Dates and square footages are out the window.”

The client, Florence Putterman, needed a studio with sufficient height to permit the storage of her large-scale canvases. The Puttermans also wanted to take advantage of the view of Pansy Bayou, and privacy from the street.

Abbott’s oft-toured house has no windows in the front and a wall of them in the back, facing the water. There’s also an enormous unscreened deck.

“They chose the ‘quieter’ design,” said Abbott, who added that the Test of Time award reflects well on his clients.

“They have a house that has been recognized because they have been so wonderful about sharing it with anybody, everybody — the Wright Foundation when they came,” and architecture tours. “It is a recognition of them for how they have maintained the house and loved it.”

Ironically, the front facade, without fenestration except for a wide door carved with Florence Putterman’s art, says “don’t bother me,” Abbott noted. “It is not unfriendly, but is a very clear statement.”

Abbott’s “Zen Retreat” was done for a “very private” client who wanted a small inland cabin converted into a place for yoga and meditation.

“We stripped it.” Abbott removed the walls, strengthened the cottage with a red steel superstructure, and linked the resulting pavilion with a forest and creek.

Other 2013 Design Awards:
• Honor Award of Excellence for New Work: Agricultural Bank and Construction Bank of China Headquarters, Arquitectonica; Miami-Dade College’s Kendall Academic Support Center, Miami, Perkins + Will.
• Merit Award of Excellence for New Work: Miami International Airport Metrorail Station, Perez & Perez Architects and Planners; Infinity Mixed Use Building, San Francisco, Arquitectonica; Alto Lee Adams Sr. Court House, Fort Pierce, PGAL in association with Merrill, Pastor + Colgan Architects; DLA Piper, Miami, Gensler; MDO Building, Miami, Cure & Penabad Architecture and Urban Design.
• Merit Award of Excellence for Historic Preservation: Lincoln Theatre Renovation, Miami Beach, Shulman & Associates; Okeechobee County Court House, Rowe Architects.
• Honor Award for Unbuilt Design: Casa Patio 1, Office One Architecture.
• Merit Award for Test of Time: Elizabeth Virrick Park, Miami, Treister and Miller Architects.
• COTE Sustainable Design Award: FIU School of International and Public Affairs, Miami, Arquitectonica.
• Masonry Award: Centerstate Bank Regional Headquarters, Okeechobee, DSI Architects.


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: September 8, 2013
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