LETTER FROM HOME: Readers are passionate about local architecture

The Center for Asian Art at The Ringling includes the avant garde green building and the renovated 1966 gallery to the left. Courtesy photo / H. Romero.

The Center for Asian Art at The Ringling includes the avant garde green building and the renovated 1966 gallery to the left. Courtesy photo / H. Romero.

Reader email — this one came in after my May 15 story on the new Asian Art Center at The Ringling — can be so much fun:

“Mr. Bubil: You are one of the very few who insist on perpetuating this absurd, non-innovative architectural school of bland. Thank God, the builders and constructors that build our sub-divisions and neighborhoods do not share your insanity for these flat-roofed (always leaky by the way ... must be the BAD design) cubed, boxes!

“If you built this junk back in the days of classic architecture, you would have been burn’t at the stake for bland heresy! From that block-long monstrosity known as the Herald-Tribune building to the aghast! view-wrecking Vue, to this affront to the themed beauty of the Ringling, your thinking and promotion of this ‘junk’ is absurd enough to get you removed from your position.

“Go and try to sell this ‘junk’ in Vail, or Santa Fe ... they would burn you at the stake!” — Jim T., Venice.

In response: Good thing I don’t live in Santa Fe. As for Vail, a few years ago I visited and saw imitation, derivative, historicist Swiss-style architecture in the town center. I also saw “mountain modern” homes, some with flat roofs. Even so, I kept my mouth shut and my pen in pocket, and no stakes were set ablaze.

I congratulate Jim for including his whole name in the email, although I have chosen not to publish it here for the sake of his privacy. A lot of critics choose not to include their names, and we know all about Internet trolls who hide behind fake names. Jim has courage behind his convictions.

I posted Jim’s letter on my Facebook page and received 58 comments (so far), not including replies. Here is a sampling:

“If you are getting burned at the stake, what is he going to do to the builder and architect?” — Alicia Kurvin, Realtor.

“Provoking that much emotion must be worth some satisfaction. It’s no reflection on you, but a lot on him.” — Francine DeFilippo.

“Harold ... does his research and he knows what he is talking about. It’s the market and where it’s going.” — Margaret Fuesy, publicist.

“LOL! Art invites commentary and reaction. Then, perhaps, it has made its place. I do believe, with rare exception (the teepee/igloo), our created spaces are cubes and boxes, embellished by/to the aesthetic of the occupant, artist/architect.” — Barbara Banks, photographer.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It would be nice to have civility in comments or letters. It’s quite obvious that Harold Bubil tends to lean towards modern architecture. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, although I build traditional homes, I’m enjoying the resurgence of modern architecture. I love the Herald-Tribune building and the Vue.” — Lee Wetherington, home builder.

“In spite of our local ties with historical modern homes, and the local resurgence of the next generation of the same, modern design is a national trend. You would be hard pressed to drive a block in Asheville, Austin, Jackson Hole or Vail, the suburbs of Chicago, or nearly anywhere else new development is occurring, without seeing a regionally appropriate modern home. ... I won’t say that this guy is alone is his thinking, but I can say that 9 out of 10 homes I am asked to build are either modern or they are executed in a contemporary fashion.” — Josh Wynne, home builder.

“The current vogue of modern architecture that is enjoying a resurgence in Sarasota takes into consideration the wonderful history that we have here. The Sarasota School of Architecture is a part of that history. Obviously, similar to others that have moved here, there are some who could care less about the history of my hometown.” — Don Saba, residential property appraiser.

In response to those responses: Yes, I appreciate modern architecture, and feel it is the appropriate “style” for this time, but I like all good architecture.

Define “good"? The Roman architect Vitruvius said good architecture has commodity (it is appropriate for its purpose and is viable and sustainable), firmness (it will stand up to the elements) and delight (it pleases the eye, or at least stirs the emotions).

We have a lot of examples of good architecture in our region. In a coming column, I will share some of my favorites. And they are not all “modern.”

Apparently, further discussion of the modern “flat roof” and the leak issue is in order, too.

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 23, 2016
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