Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Downtown Sarasota’

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)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

A couple posts back we highlighted the success of the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Since then we’ve noticed numerous articles about street art, about how cities are embracing street art as part of larger urban regeneration efforts. A recent one from gristexplores Baltimore’s big push to make the city a living museum.

What about Sarasota? We already have the chalk festival, the new parking garag

e downtown with its murals, and a history of art from the Ringling Museum to Ringling School of Art + Design to Towles Court. What if the city inventoried volunteers willing to offer the walls of their buildings as urban canvases? What if international artists were invited to join local artists in a citywide exhibition, say a week-long art festival during which residents and visitors could watch the artists complete their work, engage in discussions about art and urban space and community, and even participate in workshops given by the artists? Would a Sarasota overflowing with street art be a more beautiful city? A more dynamic city? A more attractive city for creatives?

An excerpt from the article on Baltimore:

Street artists from around the world are descending on Baltimore this spring to take part in an ambitious — and totally legal — exhibition, producing murals for an event designed to bring new life to a transitional neighborhood.Launched this month and running through the end of May, Open Walls Baltimore is the city’s first officially sanctioned street art exhibition. Twenty walls throughout the Station North Arts and Entertainment District will serve as backdrops for murals that will be created over the course of several weeks. The walls to be painted are a mix of both private homes and commercial buildings, and represent both occupied and vacant structures. “It’s a mus

eum for street art,” says the artist Gaia, who is curating the event.It’s hard to pinpoint when, exactly, street art tipped from illegal enterprise to mainstream arts activity, but it’s safe to say that it was in the groundwater by May 2007 when the anonymous street artistBanksy earned a profile in The New Yorker and people like Brad Pitt started collecting street art. Cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, London, Barcelona, and others have appropriated what was once an illegal art form for economic revitalization purposes.

{click to view source}

“You go to the Wynwood [neighborhood in Miami] because you want to see a Shepard Fairey,” Gaia says. “You want to see artwork that has established some fame and recognition and has become a gem. The art there is raising property values.”

Open Walls is not seen as a panacea for a struggling neighborhood, rather it’s happening in concert with a number of other endeavors. In Station North there is new affordable live/work space for artists, and a new Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School. An abandoned clothing factory will soon be home to a design school for public middle and high school students, and nearby MICA, a private arts college, is investing heavily in the area. Slowly but surely, businesses are returning, coffee shops are opening, theaters and galleries are welcoming patrons.

keep reading at grist.org

Read Full Post »

This post is a bit long in coming, but check out the pics of the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Art Festival below. For those of us who were there, it’s a nice reminder of how quickly the event has grown. For those of you who weren’t…well, don’t miss it in 2012! Sarasota has a long history as a haven for artists, and the Chalk Festival is part of downtown Sarasota’s burgeoning street art scene (more on that in upcoming posts). More photos can be found here. The festival home page is chalkfestival.com

2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival Announces Circus City Theme!!

The 2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival theme will bring us back to the 1920′s when the serene seaside shores of Sarasota became Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey’s Circus winter home and became known as “Circus City, USA”.

A time when residents would glow with anticipation as the trains rolled into town carrying circus families from around the world along with their elaborate costumes, massive tents and exotic animals to practice their fearless acts.

The Sarasota Chalk Festival hosted the most important contemporary street painting venue in the world last year (2011 Pavement Art Through the Ages) with over 250 of the most renowned artists participating for the first time in one location and 200,000 visitors attending. Local artists were joined by artists from all over America as well as international artists from Australia, Italy, Canada, Spain, Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Peru, France, Brazil and Germany. (more info at the official website)

Juandres Vera, of Mexico, finishes his submission for the 3D Pavement Art category at the 2011 Sarasota international Chalk Festival.

A chalk mosaic pays homage to modern collages made from hundreds of digital photos. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

One artist blends past and future with an homage to apples and Apple products. Sarasota, Fla. officials estimate over 100,000 visitors attended the free festival. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

Wide-pan view of the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Festival. The festival’s end on Nov. 7 saw a high-pressure street washer wipe all the art away, leaving only photos through which to remember the gallery. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

This LEGO terracotta army was inspired by the giant LEGO man found on a Sarasota beach, as well as the Terracotta warriors of ancient China. (Zinnia Jones/Flickr)

The finished LEGO terracota army by Planet Streetpainting of the Netehrlands. (Zinnia Jones/Flickr)

Read Full Post »

{click image for photo source}

The John Ringling Causeway links Lido Key and St. Armand’s Circle with the mainland and downtown Sarasota. Its sleek design mirrors our expansive sunsets, and the bridge features protected cycling and jogging lanes. Hart’s Landing, tucked beside and beneath the bridge near the middle of the photo, is a local haunt of both fishermen and fishing birds. A beautiful place to be, and a beautiful place to look at.

Google Maps location: http://g.co/maps/rx8r9

Read Full Post »

As the quest for more viable renewable and alternative energy sources continues, some of the options suggested seem brilliant while others remain firmly in the world of the bizarre. Take, for instance, a biofuel mentioned in a recent article on portstrategy.com:

According to a recent report by the American Chemical Society, alligator fat could be the best option for fuelling cars; the oil found in the alligator’s meat and skin is apparently more practical than soya, the usual biofuel source, and the society says that the meat industry sends 15m pounds (lbs) of alligator fat a year to landfill.

Really? Gator gas? Gotta wonder whether the folks at the American Chemical Society are avid golfers who lost one too many balls to alligator-defended water hazards. Then again, it’s hard to justify wasting 15 million pounds of alligator fat annually. Might as well put it to use. As strange as gator fuel sounds, it is an interesting possibility, one that could lead to more locally sourced biofuels.

Another, more technologically oriented, potential energy source is the humble speed bump. A Maryland-based company has developed a speed bump that harnesses the kinetic energy of cars as they pass over it and  then converts that energy into electricity.

The company “is targeting installations in parking lots, border crossings, exit ramps, neighborhoods with traffic calming zones, rest areas, toll booths, and travel plazas. Electricity would power roadway signs, street and building lights, storage systems for back-up and emergency power.”

Traffic calming can make neighborhoods safer, more enjoyable, more humane places to live, so if it can also increase an area’s social, economic, and environmental sustainability who could complain? Downtown Sarasota has dozens if not hundreds of places appropriate for such a speed bump.

Read Full Post »

The morning sun wakes me. It is warm but no longer carries the burn of summer; the orange light is pleasant, inviting. I wake gradually, as does the dog. The cat is stretched out on the wood floor in a bath of warm light. He half opens a single eye to watch me walk across the apartment and out to the porch, the dog following, but he soon grows bored and returns to his sleep.

I brew a pot of coffee and sit on the front stoop, the front door left open. The dog noses through the garden and along the sidewalk and I find the morning news on the radio. It is still early, the slightest chill in the air, and the sun on my face is lovely. I lie back on the wide top step of the front stoop and soon the dog and the cat both join me. My wife is awake now. She pours herself coffee and watches us. She smiles and begins her own morning ritual, watering the plants, reading over a piece she wrote the day before. The dog watches, sees when she has finished, and licks my face.

We walk through Laurel Park. Down Hawkins Court, slowly to enjoy the wonderfully car-free brick lane. We see the brick paving revealed on Madison where the blacktop has worn away and talk of how wonderful it would be if all of Laurel Park was again paved in brick. I would get rid of the sidewalks and invite everyone to enjoy the street. There is a stretch on Oak where several houses, instead of being set back, are built to the sidewalk edge. The effect is friendly, cozy. I find myself walking there intuitively, whether it is the direct way or not.

On Main Street we stop at C’est la Vie for croissants and a second cup of coffee. We both studied French in high school, and even if I can’t find the courage to speak it I enjoy its music as the waiters and waitresses banter, sometimes with francophone patrons. Several people, tourists and residents, stop us to say hello to the dog as we walk down Main Street toward Island Park and the bayfront. She ignores them good-naturedly. Sometimes she looks up at us and smiles, in her way.

Passing Media on Main we reminisce about Sarasota News & Books, much as the old-timers did about Charlie’s. We speak of the characters we’ve known there. Of the memories that have yet to fade.

The dog knows we are nearing Island Park. She loves it there, as do we. Other dogs greet her and us, other dog owners do as well. She and I trace the seawall and look to the water for passing fish. On the west side of the park we wade into the shallows and the dog barks at seabirds, bites gently at seaweed on the rocks. We can see Bird Key, Lido Key, Siesta Key. Longboat Key to the north. Cars and bicyclists and pedestrians are crossing the bridge to St. Armand’s Circle.

As we near O’Leary’s we find an empty bench and eat our pastries. We sip our coffee. We watch people and smile when they look our way. We again raise our faces to the sun. The dog busies herself at the water’s edge and we listen with our eyes closed to her snuffling and the lapping of tiny waves. It is a beautiful day.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »