One of the most unusual of Sarasota’s new crop of modern houses has received a top award from the Florida Gulf Coast chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
The striking residence, known as the Verandah House, was designed by Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture on Seminole Drive in McClellan Park. Its designers were presented an Award of Excellence for New Work at the chapter’s design awards ceremony earlier this month.
The house is bordered by Seminole, Yamaw Drive and Hyde Park Street. In such a public location, the architects placed a priority on creating private space in the back yard. This is achieved with the broad, one-room-deep house on Seminole, a detached garage on Hyde Park and a privacy wall on Yamaw.
The striking architectural feature, besides the intentionally rusty mailbox of unfinished steel and the concrete shadow boxes punctuating the façade, is a roof overhang that is cantilevered 16 feet from the north side of the house.
“Instead of shading the house, it shades the back yard,” said Michael Halflants, AIA. “You are more likely to open all of these doors because it is going to be a cooler microclimate in the back.”
Along its edge is a 14.8-kilowatt array of photovoltaic panels. But these are not the solid panels you see mounted on roof decks. Manufactured by Lumos Solar of Boulder, Colorado, the small square solar cells are arranged to allow light to pass through.
“They are mounted on glass, and they have this wonderful shade through the panel itself. Instead of having them on the roof where nobody sees them, they become part of the house, part of the architecture,” Halflants said.
“The little transformers become part of the detailing. The light goes both through and between the panels. Throughout the day, the yard looks different” with a diffuse pattern of shade.
The house has two staircases; the one on the west side is outside the conditioned space but covered by the roof.
The staircases “create a loop,” Halflants said, “and it makes it a much more enjoyable place to live if you don’t always have the same way to walk.”
Or, in the case of the Verandah House, the same way to design a home. Very little about this house could be called same.
The 2016 Design and Honor awards, presented by the Florida Gulf Coast chapter of the American Institute of Architects at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota on June 16:
-- New Work, Residential: Award of Excellence — Seminole Residence, McClellan Park, Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture; Award of Merit — Wabi Sabi House, South Creek, Osprey, Hall Architects, Glenn Darling, AIA.
-- New Work, Commercial & Public: Award of Excellence — Siesta Key Picnic Shelters, Sweet Sparkman Architects.
-- Renovations & Additions: Award of Excellence — Sarasota High School renovation/New Gate, Solstice Architects, Jonathan Parks and Selma Goker Wilson.
-- Historic Preservation and Restoration: Award of Excellence — Umbrella House Rehabilitation, Hall Architects, Greg Hall; Merit — Siesta Key Beach Pavilion, Sweet Sparkman Architects, Jerry Sparkman and John Bryant; Merit — T.H. Mitchell House Renovation, Seibert Architects, Michael Epstein.
-- Unbuilt Work: Basch Visual Art Center, Ringling College, Sweet Sparkman Architects.
-- Innovation With Materials: Helga Wall-Apelt Gallery of Asian Art at The Ringling, Machado Silvetti & Associates.
-- Builder of the Year: Michael K. Walker & Assoc. n Medal of Honor: Mark Smith, AIA.
-- Presidential citations: Becky Wilson, AIA Florida, Tallahassee; Jedd Heap, AIA, former AIA Florida Gulf Coast president; Selma Goker Wilson, chapter board member.
Spirit of Sarasota awards, from Sarasota Magazine
-- Institutional — Sarasota National Cemetery, Hoyt Architects. n Residential — Midcentury modern renovation in the Venezia Park Historic District, Jon Barrick, AIA.
-- People’s Choice: Sarasota National Cemetery, Hoyt Architects.
Comments from the winners:
-- Greg Hall, AIA, on restoring the Umbrella House's shading structure: "The largest technical challenge was being able to meet current design and building codes (including wind loads of 160 mph). It gave us pause to really contemplate what we were doing there, and at the same time match as closely as we could the original details. We had a full record of original construction drawings and a full complement of historic photos. So we could compare what was on the page to what was actually constructed. There were minor variations, but it was close. So we took it as our task to not only meet current building codes, but to do it so it looked like the original umbrella."
Jonathan Parks, AIA, on the new security fence and gate at Sarasota High, the 1960 Paul Rudolph-designed building recently renovated by the school district: The fence "had to be completely the opposite gestures of what Rudolph was doing so that we didn’t create a false history; so someone didn’t walk up and say, ‘Oh, this was by Paul Rudolph’ It absolutely had to be, no doubt, opposite gestures. So while his elements are hanging from above (the shade panels and stairs/catwalk to the rehearsal studios), ours are coming up from below. Where his elements are aligning, ours are going by each other. Where his elements were white, ours are black. His elements are crisp-edged, and ours are rounded. But somehow, it all seems to work, strangely sympathetic.
"Typically when an architect does some kind of design intervention in a famous building by a famous architect, they are pilloried by their colleagues as 'the most awful thing ever.' So what happens is, nobody wanted to touch it. That motivated me to put my hat in the ring and take it on. We were going to touch one of Paul Rudolph’s most famous buildings in a way that no architect in his right mind would ever do, and we were rewarded for the effort."
Glenn Darling, AIA, of Hall Architects, on the Wabi Sabi House. The name refers to "the beauty that comes from imperfection": "We had two starting points. The clients had a beautiful piece of property, and they wanted to preserve it, so they wanted to keep the buildings on the edge of the property and preserve the center.
"The other starting point was that they are potters, so they have this very tactile connection to materiality and the process of making. You think of a pot that is hand-thrown, and you have the finger marks. It is not completely smooth; the finger marks are part of the beauty. So that is where we came up with the name Wabi Sabi House. The imperfection. The building records that process and expresses it."
Jerry Sparkman, AIA, on the "two-pole" shelters at Siesta Public Beach; the are a take on the wooden shelters, supported by two posts, that have long been used by Sarasota County at beaches and parks: “Whether we are designing a museum, a vacation home or a beach restroom, we seek to create distinctive architecture that belongs to its site and climate.”