Save Rudolph’s Sarasota High School

Letter to the Editorsave shs, Sarasota Herald Tribune
By Madison Touchton
Sarasota High School Class of 2016

I’m a freshman in the AICE and MaST programs at Sarasota High and plan to be an architect. I agree we need 21st-century labs, which currently involves gutting the interior of historic Building 4. Can’t we have both?

Money has been found for other schools; why can’t it be found for one of such historical significance? Why can’t the School Board find the funds to restore Paul Rudolph’s Building 4 and give MaST the labs we were promised? Why can’t the labs go in another building? Use Building 4 for administration and other functions.

I’ve heard people say “Rudolph isn’t Frank Lloyd Wright, so why does it matter?” No, he’s not Frank Lloyd Wright; he’s Paul Rudolph, famous in his own right.

Sarasota is the birthplace to the Sarasota School of Architecture, influencing architecture worldwide. This building is important to the history of SHS, the history of Sarasota, and the history of Sarasota education.

To my knowledge, there are only four schools in the world by Rudolph. Two were in Sarasota, where Riverview was demolished and SHS is at risk. Of the other two, one is to become a parking lot and the other renovated, not restored.

It is important that the SHS building be restored to Rudolph’s design. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s not like he’s designing more. Protecting his buildings in Sarasota is a must. I know we need labs; however, in my heart I’m an architect.

Editor: Because the Tribune limits letters to 250 words, the following are the extended and unprinted comments by Ms. Touchton:

First, thank you so much Herald-Tribune for waiting five days to publish my letter, until after the School Board has already voted to continue with the destruction of this historic building. Since Letters to the Editor are limited to 250 words, here’s some of what I had to ‘gut’:

I have seen many articles published about Building 4, including photographs of the interior. Photographs of the interior as it is now: dank, dark, and depressing. No wonder it has been difficult to convince the Public of the importance of restoring this beautiful building. Why not run pictures of the way it once was: bright, open, and inspiring? Show them side-by-side to allow people to see how it once was, and could be again. How about telling a little of the significance of this building in Sarasota’s education history? This building is being described now as holding back the advancement of education in Sarasota; when the whole reason for its existence in the first place was to give to the children of Sarasota a progressive new school and school system. This is not just a historic building, not just a work of one the most significant architect’s of the 20th century, not just a piece of Sarasota history.. no, this building is not holding back our education … it’s a flagship building to the history of the Sarasota school system that shows how a community once took the time and money to give the students of Sarasota the education they deserved. Give this building the honor and respect it deserves. As to the need for 21st century learning opportunities, the need for MaST labs, we need those too. I know that my classmates are for the destruction of this building because they are being told that we will not get our promised labs any other way. We can have both. Build out, build up, but please don’t gut this building.

Madison Touchton
Sarasota High School Class of 2016

Sarasota: Architectural Mecca

The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) will host the Frank Lloyd Wright Building SAF Sarasota Modern Tour for Wright Building ConservancyConservancy (FLWBC) on Sunday, February 17, 2013, for a 

tour of select Sarasota midcentury modern buildings. The Conservancy is made up of experts 

and fans of architecture from around the country and abroad. Conservancy Communications 

and Events Manager Jeffrey Levine asked SAF to arrange a tour because “Our members want 

to see firsthand what makes Sarasota such a mecca for modern architecture.”

The tour will include four homes by Sarasota architects including Tim Siebert’s Hiss Studio, Paul Rudolph’s Harkavy House and Ralph Twitchell’s Rae Residence. The group will have lunch at the Putterman House on Lido Shores designed by Carl Abbott, a former student of Paul Rudolph and visit the Paul Rudolph Addition at Sarasota High School. Abbott and Siebert will greet the guests, and Sarasota architects Greg Hall, Joe King and Jonathan Parks will provide background on Sarasota School of Architecture movement.

Janet Minker, president of SAF said, “We are thrilled to host this prestigious group. The Conservancy’s visit is a great example of the high value placed on Sarasota’s architectural heritage in our tourism industry.”

On Friday, February 15, there will be an evening reception for the Conservancy and SAF board members Dan Snyder and Christopher Wilson at Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House, described by Architectural Digest as “One of the five most remarkable houses of the mid-twentieth century”.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, an international preservation organization, 
is based in Chicago. Founded in 1989, its mission is to facilitate the preservation and 
maintenance 
of the remaining Wright-designed structures. Visit savewright.org.

Founded in 2003, SAF’s mission is to preserve Sarasota’s midcentury modern architecture. Visit saf-srq.org. For more information, contact Dan Snyder, info@saf-srq.org.
Photos from top: Harkavy House, Hiss Studio, Putterman Residence, Sarasota High School Rudolph Addition, Rae Residence.

Protect Rudolph Building

February 13, 2013, Letter to the Editor, Sarasota Herald TribuneSarasota High School SOS

They always say, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” The Sarasota School Board is about to prove this with its plans to demolish the common areas of the historic Paul Rudolph Addition at Sarasota High School. This will forever alter the iconic architect’s last remaining public building in Florida.

Responsible local governments all across the country are going out of their way to protect significantly historical homes, buildings and landmarks. Sarasota should be one of them.

Imagine visiting the Lincoln Memorial and finding it encased in a glass, air-conditioned box to make visitors more “comfortable.”

Imagine visiting the great cathedrals of Europe only to find inside modern track lighting and altars of gleaming stainless steel to make them more “relevant” to today’s worshipers.
Absurd, but similar to what is being proposed in Sarasota.
We bought a home on Siesta Key eight years ago because we loved the area’s beaches, cultural attractions and strong, modern architectural heritage.

Paul Rudolph is a founding figure in the field of modern architecture. His work began here and he’s recognized internationally.

As steward of this unique, historic structure, the School Board has the responsibility to honor the 2007 stipulation in which they agreed to appropriately rehabilitate the Rudolph Addition. Please, board members, direct your architects to redesign the common areas of Building No. 4 with proper respect for the entire structure.

History will prove you right.

Michael Bille
Lois Greenbaum
Siesta Key, FL
Link to Herald Tribune

Rudolph Addition a Plus

February 12, 2013, Letter to the Editor, Sarasota Herald TribuneSarasota High School SOS

In 2007 the Sarasota County School Board signed an agreement with the Sarasota community to “appropriately rehabilitate” the Rudolph Addition to Sarasota High School. The agreement was entered into with a clear understanding of what “appropriate rehabilitation” means.

Now, five years later, the School Board staff is telling the students and their families that the 21st century learning school they have been promised with the renovation of Sarasota High School campus cannot be done if the Rudolph Addition is appropriately rehabilitated.

This is the same complex of buildings it was in 2007, the same footprint, the same amount of square feet. Nothing has changed except the School Board’s commitment to the citizens of Sarasota.

What kind of example is the board setting for our young citizens by breaking its promise and throwing away a valuable opportunity?

The rehabilitation of the Rudolph Addition can draw world attention to the school’s exceptional learning programs as well as to its extraordinary architecture. Appropriate rehabilitation through preservation of the building’s unique architectural features can also magnify the impact of public funds.

Financial resources for the maintenance and future improvement of the building can be earned through additional use, outside the school schedule, for state, regional and national conferences, as well as visitor and tour use. It can and should be a showcase for 21st century learning and an extraordinary cultural attraction for Sarasota.

Deborah G. Dart
Member of the Board
Sarasota Architectural Foundation
Link to Herald Tribune