Hiss Studio, Tim Seibert
CERTAIN PLACES ON THE PLANET — often unexpected places, like Columbus, Indiana, and Tel Aviv, Israel — have been blessed with impressive inventories of important 20th century architecture. One such place is Sarasota, Florida, on the Gulf Coast. I was there once many years ago, so many that all I remember is collecting seashells on Sanibel Island (they’re also blessed with an impressive inventory of seashells).
Umbrella House, Paul Rudolph, 1953
Now I’m getting another chance. The weekend of October 9-12, I’ll be in Sarasota for Sarasota MOD Weekend, a celebration of the area’s 1940s through ’60s architectural heritage, when architects like Paul Rudolph, Ralph Twitchell, Victor Lundy, Tim Seibert, Gene Leedy, Carl Abbott and others produced a stock of residential and commercial buildings responding to local climate and culture with great modernist style.
Photos: Ezra Stoller
This group, which became known as the Sarasota School of Architecture, found its initial inspiration in the philosophies of the Bauhaus, but soon incorporated regional Southern features, “using patios, verandas, modular construction and raised floors to open up buildings for greater ventilation in pre-air conditioning days,” as the website of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation puts it. “They added a play of light and shadow, and the color and texture of indigenous low maintenance materials softened the cold machine aesthetic of the Bauhaus. This approach… allowed Sarasota School buildings to respect and blend well into their sites. The result was a regional modernism which blurred the distinction between the indoors and outdoors and accommodated the lifestyle and climate of southern Florida.”
Healy Guest House, Ralph Twitchell/Paul Rudolph, 1950
In other words, cool modern beach houses with architectural pedigree. Some are even on the market. What could be better? Perhaps a weekend full of lectures, tours (walking, trolley, boat) and parties celebrating same?
Jet Blue flies direct from NYC to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. I’ll be on one of those flights. You in?