Bubil: Architect without ego


‘What do you think?” asks Joe Farrell when informed that the large cantilevered overhangs at a Sarasota building he helped design in 1960 have been given accents of baby blue.

Like my opinion counts?

At least it does to Farrell, who has all the talent and résumé of an accomplished architect without an ounce of the ego.

Some architects, you may be aware, were known for their egos — Frank Lloyd Wright comes to mind — although most of them in Sarasota are really quite modest.

But Farrell is not at all haughty about the fact that the Center for Architecture Sarasota has raised and spent more than a half-million dollars to refurbish the county-owned Scott Building, which Farrell designed 55 years ago, for use as its headquarters.

The building, at 265 S. Orange Ave., will be rededicated with events on Thursday, Saturday and next Sunday.

Farrell is just thrilled that the new guardians of the building consulted him on the restoration/adaptive reuse. Too often, that does not happen.

“Guy Peterson (the CFAS project’s architect) and I have had a number of talks,” Farrell said in a telephone interview from his office in Honolulu, where he has spent most of his career. “He calls me when he has a thought that he thinks I might have some concern about. He always has a good idea, so I am delighted that he contacts me and we discuss some things.

“The last thing he called about is just terribly exciting, and that is to paint the upper part of that I-section (on the overhang), paint it blue. It gives an aesthetic extension of the building’s design. That connotates the sky, and supposedly it discourages birds (from nesting and dropping), but the most important part is the aesthetic beauty that I think it will bring to the building.”

Farrell said Sarasota surpasses many cities, most much larger, in its appreciation of architecture, both new and old.

“There is a lot of interest in Sarasota with the aesthetics of buildings,” he said. “That is even more so than in Hawaii. When I was in Sarasota, we were constantly — particularly Bill Rupp and I, and Paul Rudolph on occasions — talking about the aesthetics of architecture. When I got here, the aesthetics of landscaping and natural things was more important than the aesthetics of buildings.

“Sarasota still has an intensity about the aesthetics or the art of architecture, more so than anyplace I have ever been. It was a good place for my spawning ground. I don’t think I was very conscious of it for a long time. But it has really been brought back to my consciousness, how much Sarasota and the architectural world there influenced me.”

By the way, I like the color.

Information on the building’s opening events is online at www.CFAsrq.org. NOTEStartAt 5 p.m. March 29, Farrell will give a free lecture on his work and career, followed by a Q&A with Harold Bubil.

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: March 21, 2015
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