More honors for local architects


Four local architecture firms have won 2015 Design Awards from the American Institute of Architects Florida/Caribbean.

The awards will be presented Aug. 1 in Boca Raton at the organization’s annual convention.

Guy Peterson Office for Architecture won three awards — an Honor Award for Historic Preservation/Restoration, for the Center for Architecture Sarasota’s McCulloch Pavilion on Orange Avenue in Sarasota; a Merit Award for Unbuilt Design, for “the Treehouse"; and a Merit Award for Masonry in Design, for the Ferguson Alley House in downtown Sarasota.

Hallmarks of mid-century modern design include interior spaces that connect to the outdoors, large windows and sleek furnishings that emphasize line and lack embellishment, like in this home on Siesta Key. (Photo provided / Seibert Architects)

Hallmarks of mid-century modern design include interior spaces that connect to the outdoors, large windows and sleek furnishings that emphasize line and lack embellishment, like in this home on Siesta Key. (Photo provided / Seibert Architects)

Seibert Architects, which was founded in the 1950s, won a “Test of Time” Merit Award for the 1961 Rees-Schulaner Residence in Sandy Hook on Siesta Key; and a Merit Award for New Work, for the Tetreault-Pirman House in Sarasota.

Solstice Architects, formerly Jonathan Parks Architects, won a Merit Award in Sustainable Design for its Palm Avenue Parking Garage in downtown Sarasota.

Sweet Sparkman Architects won a Merit Award for New Work for its PlayBall! Pavilion at Sarasota County’s Fruitville Park on Richardson Road, and a Merit Award in the Object Award category for its “two-pole” beach shelters at Siesta Public Beach.

The top honor, The Award of Excellence, for a new residence went to the Miami River House by Brillhart Architecture in Miami.

The Center for Architecture Sarasota

CFAS hired Guy Peterson OFA and contractor Michael Walker and Associates to renovate the 1960 Scott Building, designed by Bill Rupp and Joe Farrell, for use as its headquarters. CFAS will share the building with the University of Florida’s CityLab program, which will bring a master’s degree program to downtown Sarasota this fall.

Sarasota County remains the owner of the building, which was in private hands when it served as a furniture store in the 1960s.

After six months of construction costing more than $500,000, much of it funded by a grant from Nathalie McCulloch, the structure looks new after opening in March. The exterior has been restored and the interior has been reconfigured to meet the needs of the three tenants, while also renewing the minimalist, modern appearance.

“I have been fortunate to work with Joe Farrell, who was very active in that project,” Peterson said in March. “I was able to run a lot of ideas past him, and it has been a collaborative effort.” Farrell lives in Honolulu.

“This is bringing this building back to its original clear idea and simplicity,” Peterson said.

The challenge was in rewiring the building for a sophisticated lighting plan, and installing new air-conditioning, without marring the clean lines with exposed conduits. Most wires are hidden overhead within the I-shaped beams.

The Ferguson Alley House

This Peterson-designed structure is on an alley between First and Second streets in Sarasota, less than a block from U.S. 41. The house is inhabited by the owners of an adjacent commercial building on Second Street.

The Tetrault-Pirman House

Designed by Michael Epstein of Seibert Architects, this house, near Indian Beach Road, holds true to the pure modernist principles of the firm’s founder, Tim Seibert.

“I certainly appreciate the work of Oscar Niemeyer and Le Corbusier and Mies,” said Epstein, naming three pioneers of modern architecture. “Tim Seibert, of course, as well. It has been quite an education and inspiration to be working here all these years, and to be able to get into those structures from the early days and see what they did and why they did it. Every time I see one, I wonder, ‘Why are we not doing this still?’

“It’s the codes,” Epstein explained. “But the Tetrault-Pirman House is a good example of trying to capture the spirit of those times and those structures, but doing it in a way that is code-compliant and meets with the needs of today. It is in a flood zone, and we have the heavy windloading now. It is essentially an open glass pavilion, and it is harder to do this now than it was back then.

“We used steel structure instead of wood to make it happen. But if someone from that period were subject to the same rules we are today, what would they do? The Tetrault-Pirman House is my best interpretation.”

Seibert Architects declined to offer photographs to the press, citing an exclusivity agreement with a national shelter magazine.

The Palm Avenue Parking Garage

Architect Jonathan Parks said the garage, noted for its dramatic scrims or “sails” on the Palm Avenue façade, is the only LEED-Gold certified, mixed-use, core-and-shell parking garage in North America.

“It has won a ton of other awards, but the core thing we tried to deal with was sustainability,” Parks said. “It is hard to get those awards. Not only did the sustainability speak to people, but also what we were doing with the design. Something about that project speaks to people. They feel it helps define a part of downtown and ultimately is something of a portrait of Sarasota.”

Sustainable features include the use of fly ash in the concrete. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal-fired power plants; using it in concrete encapsulates the ash, a pollutant. The ash also can be used as a substitute for some of a concrete batch’s Portland cement; its production releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Also, the building has charging stations for electric cars; photovoltaic panels on the roof; natural ventilation and daylighting; LED lights that come on only when needed; a one-way traffic system that minimizes the search for open parking spaces; cross ventilation through the scrims to eliminate the need for mechanical ventilation; and cisterns to collect rainwater off the building.

The stairs are open and decorated with murals to encourage their instead of the elevator.

The PlayBall! Pavilion

This is a metal and concrete structure in Fruitville Park, built for Sarasota County Parks and Recreation. The 2,600-square-foot pavilion, designed by Sweet Sparkman Architects, has sheltered picnic tables for those watching softball games on the adjoining ball fields.

The design awards jury praised the pavilion for “its ability to transform such a pragmatic program into a public space. Although simple, this piece of infrastructure beautifully converts into the civic realm of the park.”

The shelter and pavilion replaced several aging structures at the park. A wall separates picnicking and game spectators, allowing families to see the game while enjoying the park facilities. Principal Todd Sweet said, “It’s refreshing to know that a simple covered shelter for intramural baseball and kickball leagues can be recognized as excellent architecture.”

The Beach Shelters

Sweet Sparkman also designed concrete picnic shelters at Siesta Public Beach. The stylized concrete coverings have two supports — a take on the wooden “two-pole” shelters long used by Sarasota County at beaches and parks — that are contoured to resemble the support posts at the nearby Siesta Beach Pavilion, designed by Tim Seibert around 1960.

Sarasota County requested a contemporary prototype for the shelter that could withstand the beach environment, and also reflect the Sarasota School of architecture and the historically designated Siebert Beach Pavilion.

The design awards jury stated, “This object’s ability to meet both the need to be unique as well as the need to be easily replicated is what makes it stand out.”

“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,” said Jerry Sparkman.

The Rees-Schulaner Residence

Seibert Architects has won several Test of Time Awards from the state AIA. This 1961 design, by Edward J. “Tim” Seibert, is a classic “Sarasota school of architecture” modernist home. In 2006, it was at risk of being torn down and replaced because of its prestigious location in Sandy Hook on Siesta Key.

But Felice Schulaner and Dennis Rees wanted a “Sarasota school” of architecture house and bought it with the intention of renovating it. New York interior designer Seth Schulaner, Felice’s brother, led the restoration effort with contractor Pat Ball and Seibert Architects.

“It’s better today than when it was new,” Seibert told the Herald-Tribune in 2006. “The design related well to Florida and was contemporary, inexpensive, practical and comfortable to live in.”

Seibert planned it for artist John G. Armstrong. Mary R. Hook, the architect who developed Sandy Hook, lived in the house from 1975 until 1978.

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: June 19, 2015
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