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Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

Sarasota Modern [click image for source]

Our last post spoke briefly about Sarasota’s rich tradition of modern architecture—in Burns Court, on Lido Shores and Siesta Key, and scattered throughout downtown Sarasota. In case you might want to go check out some of these landmarks yourself, below is some info on a self-guided tour. We can’t guarantee that the guides are still available, but we have definitely seen them around. Anyhow, happy hunting!

With a daily heat index in the triple digits here, an architectural tour that lets you stay in your air-conditioned vehicle sounds pretty good. That’s what Sarasota is offering now, a self-guided drive-by of significant buildings in Sarasota County that features the famous Sarasota School of Architecture, bracketed by older historic buildings and contemporary ones. • For $10, you get a map with more than 70 locations and an explanatory booklet. The estimated time for the tour is about two hours. • The catch is that many are not open to the public, such as the two residences shown, so you’ll only be able to see what’s visible from the street. Still it’s a nice introduction to an area that has some of the richest architectural history on the west coast of Florida. And now that many of the remaining Sarasota School of Architecture buildings, built from 1940 to 1970, have been torn down or are in danger of demolition (including some by its most famous practitioner, Paul Rudolph), this could be a chance to see them before they’re gone. • The map is available at the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau, 701 N Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, or it can be ordered online at toursarasota.com.

Lennie Bennett, Times art critic (info from tampabay.com)

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Sarasota is either a big town or a small city, depending I guess on how you define the terms, but it certainly isn’t a metropolis. Which, of course, is one of the things we like about it. Something else we like about it is its impressive architectural heritage, one made especially impressive by its relatively small size. It even has an eponymous style of architecture, the “Sarasota School,” or “Sarasota Modern,” pioneered by well-known modernists including Paul Rudolph, Ralph Twitchell, Victor Lundy, Philip Hiss, and Gene Leedy. Examples can be found at Lido Shores, in Burns Square, and scattered around the rest of downtown Sarasota.

Add to its modern legacy an older, more vernacular (and ever charming) one of so-called Florida Cracker bungalows, like the ones we rent here at Laurel Park Management, and Sarasota punches above its weight class. For those of us who truly love quality Sarasotan architecture, the kind that people will be proud to live or work in 100 years from now, that passersby will stop to admire, that students will study, it hurts to see how many disposable buildings have also sprung up. The strip-malls and such, buildings raised to make a buck and little else. So we were thrilled to discover another small city with an elevated architectural pedigree. Looks like we need to step up our game…

Columbus, Ind., looks like any other small town, with its small shops and restaurants. But what sets this town apart is its architecture.

The Modernist buildings — mostly geometric and made of glass and steel — are not immediately visible, interspersed as they are with old, 19th-century, gingerbread-like structures; but more than 60 public buildings in Columbus have been built by a veritable who’s who of modern masters — I.M. Pei, Eero and Eliel Saarinen, Cesar Pelli, Richard Meier, Harry Weese, Robert Venturi and James Polshek, to name a few.

In 1991, the American Institute of Architects rated Columbus sixth on its list of the top 10 American cities for architectural quality and innovation, right up there with Chicago, New York and San Francisco. That’s pretty amazing for a town of just 44,000 residents. Six of the city’s modern buildings have also been designated as national historic landmarks, and enough people travel from nearby towns and states — and even other countries — to see them that the local visitors center gives walking tours.

One such tour takes you past a large, arch-like sculpture by English artist Henry Moore. It sits across from a library designed by architect I.M. Pei and built in 1969. The building’s facade is made of brick with nearly invisible mortar — Pei mixed red brick dust into the white mortar to make it blend in.

The first modern building in Columbus is opposite the library. Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen built the First Christian Church in 1942. Grim and factory-like, the church has a tall, rectangular tower and small, rectangular windows. It helped launch a local design revolution that World War II promptly put on hold. Then, in the 1960s, thanks to some design-conscious decisions by the biggest business in town, the architectural revolution soared, with schools, fire stations, an all-glass bank, a courthouse, city hall, a world-class golf course and a jail — a really attractive jail.

As tour guide Bob Bishop puts it, “This is Columbus. We don’t build anything that isn’t attractive.” continue reading at npr.org

Wouldn’t this be a great mantra for Sarasota to adopt, and adhere to? We certainly have enough historic precedent to know good architecture when we see it.

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Okay, so—in a follow up to our last post—here are some critics’ choices for the US of A’s best public spaces. The article quoted is from Planetizen, a wonderful clearinghouse-style site of urban-themed articles. Do you agree with the critics? Disagree? Any nominees for notable snubs? Could any of their picks offer inspiration that might take root in Sarasota?

For the past few weeks, we’ve been asking you to help us crowdsource the Top 100 Public Spaces in the U.S. and Canada, in collaboration with Project for Public Spaces. For a different perspective, we asked some top architecture critics and practitioners to give us their favorites.

If you still haven’t voted, head on over to IdeaScale and give us your suggestions. Voting is getting competitive, with Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park currently topping the list.

It has been a fascinating experiment so far, attracting some of the expected responses (The High Line, Millennium Park, Bryant Park) and some less so (The Circle in Normal, Illinois). For me, it’s been a revelation to read about the many beloved plazas and parks I’ve yet to visit.

While crowdsourcing has its benefits, it is also useful to talk to people who’s business is to think about cities and architecture. I asked a handful of architecture critics, urban designers and architects to give us their bests.

James S. Russell, architecture critic for Bloomberg News and recently the author of The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change, was kind enough to send us his Top 10:

James S. Russell’s Top 10

  • High Line Park, NYC
  • Central Park, NYC
  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
  • University of Washington campus, Seattle
  • Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia
  • Millennium Park, Chicago
  • Stanley Park, Vancouver BC
  • Moore Sculpture Garden (Nelson Atkins Museum), Kansas City
  • Back Bay Fens, Boston
  • Times Square, NYC

John King is urban design critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, and he also has a new book out,Cityscapes: San Francisco and its Buildings. Rather than a top 10 list, John sent us this reflection on his favorite places:

For San Francisco, the one I thought of instantly is one that outsiders don’t known: Grand View Park. It’s on the west side of the city, a steep bare hillock surrounded by prim single-family homes, and it delivers exactly what it promises: a grand perspective on the remarkable setting that is essential to San Francisco’s sense of place.In Boston, where I lived seven years, what comes to mind is Boston Public Garden. You enter and you have stepped out of time, a sensation felt often in The Hub. And yet it’s centrally located, very much part of the daily ebb and flow, timeless yet integral to the city of today.

New York? What else but the High Line. Deride it as monied or mannered or a developers’ boon in hip veneer, it is mesmerizing and exhilarating at once — a reminder that the principles of urban design should never be considered set. Because new layers and the unexpected are part of the change that cities are all about.

Finally, in Portland, Tanner Springs Park. Again, people I respect consider the Atelier Dreiseitl design to be mannered. I love how it embodies the uniquely sustainable ethos that shapes this Northwest city more and more, year after after year.

Inga Saffron is the Philadelphia Inquirer’s architecture critic, and currently a Loeb Fellow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, provided us with this list of her picks:

Inga Saffron’s Top 10

  • Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
  • Central Park, New York
  • High Line, New York
  • Emerald Necklace, Boston
  • Millennium Park, Chicago
  • Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
  • Bryant Park, New York
  • Stanley Park, Vancouver
  • The Lachine Canal Bike Path, Montreal
  • National Mall, Washington D.C.

For pictures, more lists, and more discussion check out the original article at planetizen.

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Andres Duany has been a polarizing figure in Sarasota ever since he and his firm helped author the downtown master plan in 2000. While some of his recommendations warrant criticism, it is probably more his demeanor that creates controversy. After all, Duany has referred to local governance in Sarasota as “ass-backwards” and “prissy,” among other things. Equal parts planner and provocateur, Duany (and his outsized personality) is largely responsible for building New Urbanism into both a legitimate force in planning and a divisive polemic.

Without agreeing with everything Duany has to say, we at Laurel Park Management support the tenets of New Urbanism and Duany’s efforts to apply them to Sarasota. We think walkable mixed-use neighborhoods, slower traffic, and better connectivity are great things. We think that downtown should continue to be Sarasota’s epicenter, and that there is work to be done to insure its future as such. And even the traditional architecture most commonly associated with New Urbanism is a natural fit for Laurel Park and the other historic neighborhoods of Sarasota, what with our history of Florida cracker bungalows. Again, without agreeing on every point, we think the man has provided a pretty good roadmap for Sarasota to follow.

Change is never easy. Especially in a place like Sarasota. It wasn’t so long ago that we were essentially a small village. It wasn’t so long ago that Siesta Key was a virtually uninhabited frontier, or that Bee Ridge was a barely-there path cutting through the wilderness. It was a special time in a special place, carefree and far removed from the responsibilities and troubles of city life. But we should all be careful not to gild the past too much. We shouldn’t forget that Sarasota was built by city people, with city money. That it supported a railroad. And that no matter how great the past was the future is always something different. Our task as a community is to thrive again in a new context, a more urban context, without losing some of those aspects of the past that we all remember so fondly. New Urbanism seems to be a good fit for such a future.

Laurel Park Management encourages residents to check out the master plan for downtown Sarasota and draw their own conclusions. We encourage you to walk around Laurel Park, Gillespie Park, Main Street, the bayfront…what do you see that moves you? That charms you? Where do you like to linger, or to meet friends? What paths do you seek out, and which ones do you avoid? Does the master plan speak to your concerns?

Duany might not be making too many friends by saying to our city, “I’m sorry, but you have to grow up,” but he has a point. That which doesn’t, dies. We do have to grow up, and we are. Growing pains are inevitable. But by embracing growth—maturation, not necessarily expansion—we can help guide the process. We will, however, have to abandon simple slogans and in-fighting (the “no boss mayor” campaign comes to mind). We can’t be one-issue voters. We will have to accept that Sarasota’s future will be more urban (and, consequently, urbane) than our past. We will have to treat each other and the issues at hand with respect and deep consideration.

It’s all well and fine for Duany to speak in sound bites; he is a public figure and a salesman for the ideology he helped coalesce. But let us be a bit more measured in our internal discussions while giving honest evaluations of the recommendations Duany has given us. By looking past the rhetoric, we might just find that the path to the future is right in front of us, and that it isn’t so scary after all.

For more from Duany, check out this recent article from metropolismag.com

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Think you know Laurel Park? Take a stroll on the Laurel Park Historic Walk and discover little-known stories about the ground beneath your feet and the houses next door. Here’s all the info you need, courtesy of This Week in Sarasota.

WHEN: Saturday February 19, 2011 @ 09:00 AM (and, really, every other day)
WHERE: Orange Ave. & Oak St. Sarasota FL 34236
COST: Free

Take a Walk in Laurel Park! – A self-guided tour of the National Register of Historic Places District. Tour map and information is available on the website: www.laurelparkhistoricdistrict.com

Laurel Park is one of Sarasota’s oldest downtown neighborhoods. Located between Orange Avenue and Washington Boulevard south of Morrill Street, it is approximately 50 acres stretching over nine city blocks. Single-family homes, duplexes and small apartment buildings dating back to the 20s line the original brick paved streets. Architectural styles include Frame Vernacular, Masonry Vernacular, Bungalow, Mission Revival, Colonial Revival, and Mediterranean Revival. While primarily residential, the neighborhood includes some businesses and was once the home of Sarasota’s County Courthouse and Sarasota’s daily newspaper, The Sarasota Herald Tribune. The district is generally associated with events that were important to the early development of Sarasota from 1920-1957. Its architectural styles and varied pattern of development additionally contributed to making it a resource for the City and the State of Florida to preserve.

 

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Silva Court pool

Looking for a place to live near downtown Sarasota? Afraid your budget will force you to choose between the charm of a historic building and being able to walk to Main Street? Why not have it all? Laurel Park Management rents a variety of unique affordable apartments—many in historic homes and buildings—all within walking distance of Main Street, the Bayfront, Whole Foods, and everything downtown Sarasota has to offer.

Today we are featuring the Silva Court Studios complex that nests just behind the Laurel Park Management office. Silva Court is a locally designated Mediterranean Revival Historic Structure that includes twenty-six residential rental apartments and two commercial storefronts. All of the apartments have been updated with wood flooring and new appliances, ceiling fans, and fixtures. The twenty-four large studio apartments and two one-bedroom apartments feature tall ceilings, generous natural light, full kitchens, and bathrooms with tubs.

Interested? Stop by the office at 235 S. Osprey and say hello, or contact us via phone or email (contact info is listed near the upper right hand side of this page). For more pictures of the Silva Court Studios, check out its property page.

 

 

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There’s a Greek proverb that says, “A city grows great when men plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.” The idea, of course, is that for future generations to thrive present generations must be proactive. If done right, change in cities happens gradually. Better to plant a tree and let it grow than to install a full grown one. But think about it this way—if a few dozen neighbors got together and spent a weekend planting southern live oak seeds, Sarasota would be a city of canopy roads by the time our children are grown and having their own children. Such a simple act as planting seeds (and of course tending to the growing trees) would make Sarasota more beautiful, keep it cooler in the summer, encourage walking and bicycling (and hence sociability), improve air quality, and raise property values, among other benefits.

This post isn’t about planting trees, however. It’s about starting 2011 off right by renewing our commitment to ourselves, each other, and our city as neighbors and citizens. Those of us who live in Sarasota, whether year-round or seasonally, know how fortunate we are. Our humble hamlet has two top colleges (New College of Florida and the Ringling School of Art & Design), an opera house, a symphony orchestra, the splendid Ringling Museum and adjacent Asolo Conservatory of Performing Arts. We have gorgeous beaches (including Crescent Beach on Siesta Key, which has been named one of the world’s most beautiful), keys, a bay ideal for sailing, and several extraordinary urban parks including Island Park and Arlington Park. We have a botanical wonderworld in Selby Garden, a community-oriented thinktank in SCOPE, a homegrown weekly farmer’s market, and a quintessential American downtown anchored by Main Street, the Selby Public Library, and Whole Foods.

The list of Sarasota’s amenities goes on and on, but we’ve left out the most important one: us. The residents of a city are always its most essential and influential amenity, and the role of Sarasota’s citizens increases in importance as the economic crisis in Florida continues. Cities have less money to spend even as the issues requiring their attention increase. So it falls to us, the residents, to be more involved, more collaborative, more proactive. We at Laurel Park Management will continue to do everything we can to honor the gifts Sarasota gives to us all—we will continue to participate in local issues, communicate with our neighbors, and work to make Sarasota as good a place to live, work, and play as it can possibly be.

Won’t you join us? Will you make a New Year’s resolution to be the best neighbor and citizen you can be?

A recent article in Grist offers seven suggestions as to how such a resolution might be put into practice:

1. Plant something

Green, living things can radically change people’s moods and health. It’s an idea that biologist Edward O. Wilson explored in his book Biophilia, and it has been backed up in many studies since. A tree or a flower brings great happiness, and it can connect you to the people in your neighborhood. I have a small container garden outside my house, and people often stop to tell me how much they enjoy it.

2. Pick up litter

This one is dead easy. Sadly, no matter where you live, there’s likely to be litter. Maybe it’s blowing around on the sidewalk (that’s nearly always the case here in Brooklyn). Maybe it’s dumped by the side of a beautiful country road. Maybe it’s in the parking lot of your local mall. Maybe (I hate this) it’s on a favorite hiking path.

3. Get to know your neighbors

Really, even the irritating ones. I’ve lived on the same block for 10 years, and when I moved in, I had some ugly conflicts with the raucous (understatement) extended family that lives a few doors down. But I stuck to saying hello and letting them know I wasn’t going anywhere. Now they look out for my kid when he hangs out and plays on the street. I’ve been to the wakes of two of the family members in the past year. We care about each other in our weird, neighborly way.

4. Find out who your government representatives are

All of them. State, federal, city, town. Selectman, alderman, sheriff, dogcatcher — whatever they have in your part of the world. Then, when you have a problem, you know who to lean on to get it fixed. You are paying these people’s salaries. They work for you. Boss them around a little. You might be surprised how they listen to direction. {keep reading at grist.org}

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