First Night: Sarasota High Design Charrette

June 7, 2012 Sarasota Herald Tribune article by Harold BubilSHS Charrette_Lori White, school superintendent

Session 1 of the Sarasota High School design charrette drew a standing-room-only crowd to the Sarasota County Technical Institute on Wednesday night. Photo at right: Lori White, school superintendent, introducing moderator Dan Bailey.

And the opinions expressed were as varied as the audience members – teachers, parents, students, alumni, neighbors, architects and preservationists. Also in attendance was Shirley Hiss, widow of Phil Hiss, who as a progressive school board chairman in the 1950s inaugurated a school building program that put Sarasota on the architectural map, and resulted in the construction of Sarasota High School’s “new building,” now known as Building 4.

The audience heard presentations by school district COO Scott Lempe and representatives of two architecture firms hired for the $26 million renovation of the SHS campus. They expressed the need for “21st-century learning environments” — more open spaces and fewer individual classrooms, as students learn less from lectures and textbooks and more from teacher-directed research on their wireless tablet computers. Safety and security also were emphasized.

These concepts were widely endorsed by audience members. And the proposed “glassing SHS Charrette_Carl Abbott, Jonathan Parks, Joe Kingin” of Building 4′s iconic breezeways was held in wide disfavor by many attendees, were divided into groups to discuss the three renovation proposals. Strong support was expressed for the options that would keep the breezeways open and repurpose the old “west gym” as a media center or lunchroom. But these options would cost $1.2 to $1.5 million extra, and the budget constraints are indisputed. Photo at right by Harold Bubil – architects Carl Abbott, Jonathan Parks and Joe King discussing the Sarasota High rehab proposals. Click for full article

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