“Sarasota in the 1950s was one of the most important places in the world for architectural creativity, where the greatest design movements of the day came together.”
—Carl Abbott, FAIA, original member of the Sarasota School of Architecture
About the Sarasota School of Architecture
Inflected by local climate, construction practices, regional culture, and Florida lifestyle, a group of Sarasota-based architects adapted the principles of mid-century modernism to the unique needs of Sarasota’s subtropical climate. The architects included Ralph Twitchell, Paul Rudolph, Edward “Tim” Seibert, Mark Hampton, Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, Jack West and Carl Abbott. Working from 1941 to 1966, they changed the built landscape of our area forever. In the process, they had an international impact as well. Today, we look back on their legacy as the Sarasota School of Architecture.
Like any architectural movement, the Sarasota School didn’t spring out of a vacuum. The architects who created it were rooted in a specific place and time.
In Europe after World War I, a startling new approach to architectural design had emerged. The architects of the International or Bauhaus style turned their backs on historic precedent and exploited the new materials and technologies of the day. They swept away traditional decorative elements and references to past architectural styles. The result was a minimalist architecture of flat-roofed buildings with smooth, unornamented walls and delicate, carefully proportioned façades. An architecture for the machine age.
While the Sarasota School architects clearly found inspiration from the philosophies of the Bauhaus, they also incorporated forms of regional Southern architecture, using patios, verandas, modular construction and raised floors to open up buildings for greater ventilation in the days before air-conditioning. Their style softened the cold, machine aesthetic of the Bauhaus by adding a play of light and shadow, and the color and texture of indigenous, low-maintenance materials. This design approach strengthened the connection between architecture and environment, allowing Sarasota School buildings to respect and blend well into their sites. The result was an enduring regional modernism which blurred the distinction between indoors and outdoors and accommodated the lifestyle and climate of southern Florida.
Architect Carl Abbott Podcast Interview
May 23, 2012 Arts Talk interview by Jennifer Walker and Marty Fugate of Carl Abbott, FAIA, the youngest and last remaining member of the Sarasota School of Architecture, who shared his passion for design and for caring for Sarasota’s architectural heritage.
“It’s totally immoral to tear down important buildings.” Carl Abbott
Sarasota’s City Hall, designed by architect Jack West in 1966, was envisioned as a series of connected geometric shapes with water features and gardens. 1565 1st Street, Sarasota, FL