So many people to thank

Paul Rudolph designed the Sanderling Beach Club's cabanas in the early 1950s. Photo by Harold Bubil.

Paul Rudolph designed the Sanderling Beach Club's cabanas in the early 1950s. Photo by Harold Bubil.

In our report on the 2015 Aurora Awards, coming Sunday, builder Josh Wynne gives credit to the members of his team that produced not one, but two Gold Aurora award-winning projects, as named by the Southeast Building Conference.

“It is fun to walk up there and accept the award,” Wynne said, “but these projects are highly collaborative. A lot of talented people are invested in making the best projects we can possibly make.”

Collaboration of a sort played an overwhelming role in my receiving the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award, which will be presented Saturday night by the American Institute of Architects’ Florida chapter at its annual convention in Boca Raton.

My name is on the certificate, but it represents the influence and inspiration provided by dozens of sources, and scores of architects I’ve never met.

Architecture had always been something I loved, from my earliest years in mansion-rich Newport, Rhode Island, to my days as a student walking the hallways of buildings designed by the “Sarasota School” modernists. But other than taking a lot of photos of landmarks while on vacation, I had little involvement with the subject.

When architecture critic Joan Altabe left the Herald-Tribune around 1999, I saw an opportunity. She had covered architecture as an art, but as real estate editor, I thought that buildings were as much real estate as anything. And their value as historical artifacts dovetailed nicely with my love of history.

Then a bundle of energy and enthusiasm named Martie Lieberman walked into my office with two of her friends from the Fine Art Society of Sarasota. Martie, then a resident of Lido Shores, was moved by the Sarasota School architecture of that neighborhood and came up with the idea for an event that would celebrate it. So she came to me to seek coverage of the “American Legacy” tours and symposia, to be held in November 2001. The event grew out of John Howey’s 1995 book “The Sarasota School of Architecture.” Martie and John became valued and trusted sources.

In writing about the event, I met Tim Seibert. As eloquent and thoughtful as any person I have ever interviewed, Seibert also became a key source. He became the architecture professor I never had in college. At the same time, a young architect was making his presence known in the community, so I added Guy Peterson to my source list.

Building on the success of the “American Legacy” event, Lieberman and attorney Tom Luzier started the Sarasota Architectural Foundation. This important organization has done much to further the cause of good architecture, and its leaders have been valued and motivating sources over the years.

Architect Joe King followed up Howey’s book with his own, “Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses,” co-written with Christopher Domin. I am undecided as to whether King’s value as a source comes from his ability to explain architecture to a layperson like me, or the fact that he is just about the nicest person I’ve ever interviewed. That is saying something; my source list is full of people who have been extremely courteous and generous with their time, from county preservationist Lorrie Muldowney to Ca’ d’Zan curator Ron McCarty, and SAF President Janet Minker to historian Jeff LaHurd, and Cindy Peterson of the Center for Architecture Sarasota.

The danger in thanking people is that you will leave someone out. I regret that I will undoubtedly forget someone who has been very important to me when I mention the names of architects like Carl Abbott, Sam Holladay, Gene Leedy, Victor Lundy, Frank Folsom Smith, Jerry Sparkman, Jonathan Parks, Thorning Little, Mark Sultana, Bernardo Fort-Brescia, Michael Carlson, Joyce Owens and Linda Stevenson. And interior designer Anne Folsom Smith. And landscape architect Michael Gilkey.

And those architects I’ve never met? Let’s keep it to five individuals or teams whose buildings I have visited and loved: Paul Rudolph (Sarasota High, etc.), Jorn Utzon (Sydney Opera House), Bruce J. Graham and Fazlur R. Khan (John Hancock Center in Chicago), Frank Lloyd Wright (Florida Southern College in Lakeland) and I.M. Pei (the Pyramid at the Louvre Museum, Paris; Pei Dormitories, New College, Sarasota).

One other person to thank: Bob Graham, an honorary member of the AIA because of his interest in architecture -- the artform we all see and experience, no museum ticket necessary. To win an award named for one of Florida’s greatest governors and U.S. Senators is indeed a high honor and thrill.

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: July 30, 2015
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