Save the Paul Rudolph Canopies in Sarasota FL Under Threat of Demolition

By Alastair Gordon
https://www.facebook.com/alastair.gordon.5

It’s been a rough month for architect Paul Rudolph. First, there was news of his Orange County Government Center in Goshen, NY being torn down and now, I just got word from the Sarasota Architectural Foundation that Rudolph’s elegantly minimal pedestrian canopies that extend around the side and back of his Sarasota Senior High School (1958-1960) are in imminent danger of being demolished by none other than Ringling College of Art + Design and the Sarasota Museum of Art (SMOA). Why would a museum want to tear down such an important historic artifact that was designed by the most famous architect of the Sarasota School? It truly beggars the imagination! Most cultural institutions would do anything to have such beautiful modernist structures as part of their campus.

Joseph Molitor photo of Sarasota High School showing all the Paul Rudolph-designed canopies, dated February 9, 1960.

Joseph Molitor photo of Sarasota High School showing all the Paul Rudolph-designed canopies, dated February 9, 1960.

Yes, I can see a clunky transition from parking lot to the back entry of the old brick high school building (c.1926) that the college is now renovating into a museum, but any decent architect would be able to figure out a smooth transition that incorporates the Rudolph canopies while doing a minimum of damage and still announcing “entry” to the people who are entering the museum from the parking lot side.

http-_www.bluffton.edu_~sullivanm_florida_sarasota_rudolph_0028.jpg

Sarasota High School Canopy Walkway. Photo courtesy Mary Ann Sullivan, Bluffton University.

The Sarasota County School Board did a commendable job in first saving and then meticulously restoring the Rudolph Sarasota High School Addition. Now Ringling College must follow suit and see the logic and historic necessity of saving the Rudolph canopies that extend from the high school onto their part of the property and link the two buildings as they were originally intended to do. The canopies are as important a part of the overall design as the main school building.

SHA Walkway_John Pirman Illus

Sarasota High School Canopy Walkway designed by architect Paul Rudolph. Illustration by John Pirman, http://www.johnpirman.com

Please reach out ASAP and send an e-mail to Dr. Larry R. Thompson who is President of Ringling College and therefore the key decision maker in the building process. (The Sarasota Museum of Art is a project of Ringling College.)

Dr. Thompson’s email address is: officeofpres@ringling.edu

Please don’t hesitate to voice your opinion (esp. all of my architect and arch. critic friends) and let them know how you feel about the importance of these Rudolph’s canopies! Thank you for your participation!


Alastair Gordon is Contributing Editor at WSJ Magazine, Architecture Critic at the Miami Herald and Distinguished Fellow at Miami Beach Urban Studios. He is the author of numerous critically-acclaimed books on architecture, art and urbanism including Weekend Utopia, Naked Airport, Spaced Out, Wandering Forms, Theater of Shopping, Qualities of Duration, Beach Houses, Romantic Modernist, and Think or Swim, an in-depth biography of R. Buckminster Fuller. alastairgordonwalltowall.com