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Posts Tagged ‘Laurel Park Management’

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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One of the true pleasures of living in Laurel Park is the independence from cars that it offers. In Laurel Park we can walk. We can bike. We can hop the bus. And we can get pretty much anywhere we need to be without the hassle  and expense of driving, and with the joy of activating our muscles in the fresh air. But more than just the freedom of movement and the improved health—personal benefits—there is a sense of community in Laurel Park that is difficult, if not impossible to find, in more car-dependent neighborhoods.

We know each other here because we see each other. We pass each other’s houses and apartments, wave or nod at a neighbor on a porch, let our dogs introduce themselves and us in turn. And we talk. We tell each other of exhibitions at art galleries or of a morning stroll on the beach. We argue about politics, local and national. We complain about roads and we propose that a little common sense could solve all the problems of the world. We build community.

The article excerpted below is about people choosing to live car-free in Los Angeles. It made us smile, because this is already how we live in Laurel Park.

Los Angeles once showed the world that the car equaled freedom. Our vast parking lots and spacious two-car garages offered the utmost convenience. Even our roads were named after the idea—freeways—that automobiles provided this feeling of independence as a personal transportation experience. It worked for awhile. That is, until those painted lanes choked with Sigalerts and gas nosed towards $5.00 per gallon.

“The freeways are not so nice!” howls Eddie Solis, [a musician and part of] the small but growing group of Angelenos who are choosing not to drive a car, and swearing that their lives are better for it.

Solis ditched his car for financial reasons but quickly started to see that living car-free offered a new creative outlet for his music. “Just through sitting on the bus or subway, I’d see the city from a new perspective, that of a bus rider, as a public transportation advocate. I was seeing different walks of life come on and off [the buses], and I would go through neighborhoods that I didn’t think had anything I was interested in, and I started getting inspired.” His most recent album, The New Los Angeles, is all about that idea of freedom that he started to feel. “For the people I hear who have to commute by car, it’s always a chore,” he says. “And I’m just freely moving back and forth, seven days a week. I’m very happy about it, and it’s a huge inspiration to me.”

I wasn’t able to find any definitive studies on how many Angelenos are choosing to live car-free…[but] anecdotally, I can say that I’m hearing a lot more stories like that of Peter Zellner, a Venice-based architect, who  swapped his two vintage diesel Mercedes Benzes earlier this year for a 1974 Schwinn beach cruiser and a single-speed racing bike. He says not driving is a better fit for his personality. “I have become a cycling fanatic,” says Zellner. “I love my bike, it’s like an extension of me, maybe more so than a car ever was.”

The effects have been more than just the financial boost that comes with shedding a problematic vehicle—Zellner has seen serious health benefits. “In short order I stopped driving, stopped smoking and then stopped drinking!” he says. “I have lost 15 pounds since I started cycling everywhere, I have more time to read and think when I am on the bus and I am never stressed out by traffic.” keep reading at GOOD.is

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The holidays they are approachin’, so we at Laurel Park Management thought we’d pass along info on this weekend’s appropriately themed events and to-do options in case the spirit moves you. Enjoy!

Atomic Holiday Bazaar: December 10-11

Atomic Holiday Bazaar, Sarasota’s original annual Indie Craft Show returns for its 6th year. Shop local with unusual creators of hand made arts and crafts from Florida, the U.S. and as far as Central America! This is a craft show that won’t make you yawn or cringe!

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Gingerbread Festival: through December 11

Community Youth Development presents the Gingerbread Festival at Westfield Sarasota mall (Macy’s wing), where more than 125 houses created by youth groups, businesses and community organizations will be featured. This year there will also be gingerbread versions of iconic Sarasota landmarks as well as a Iron Chef-style gingerbread house decorating contest performed by professional and youth chefs.

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3rd Annual SRQ Santa Paws: December 10, 10am-1pm, Five Points Park

Bring your friends, family and four-legged friends to this must-see holiday pet extravaganza. Santa Paws will be available for kitty and canine consultation on Dec. 10 from 10 to 1 at Five Points Park and Santa’s little helpers will be capturing photos of the cutest pets to feature in SRQ: The Best Overall Magazine on Florida’s West Coast.

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Holiday Splendor at the Payne Mansion, Selby Gardens: through January 2

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Presents “Holiday Splendor at the Payne Mansion.” The Florida West Coast Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) will expand the scope of its popular Holiday Showhouse in the Mansion for 2011, decking the entire first floor with stunning holiday décor. Talented designers will transform Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany & the Arts into a glittering Holiday Showhouse, even creating a kitchen on the sun porch.

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From all of us at Laurel Park Management to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving! We hope you enjoy a bounty of good food, friends, family, and fortune…today and everyday.

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The Circle in Uptown Normal, Illinois {pic by Hoerr Shaudt landscape architects}

…and Sarasota’s nowhere on the list! What about Island Park? No Arlington Park? Payne Park got snubbed? Well, it should probably be noted that this ranking was assembled by Planetizen and Project for Public Spaces largely through crowdsourcing, meaning that the results are as much a measure of how vocal a handful of passionate, supportive communities are. Not that there aren’t some great public spaces on the list, starting with the surprise top spot: a traffic circle in Normal, Illinois. Traffic circles, even if they successfully calm and smooth the flow of traffic, are usually dead space. But Normal took on the challenge of bringing dead space to life, and they are justifiably proud of the results.

The Circle is a multi-functional public space located in a roundabout that provides community green space, re-circulates storm water into a public fountain and improves traffic circulation. Designed by Hoerr Schaudt landscape architects, the circle creates an energy that draws people together. Located next to the Children’s Discovery Museum, bustling Amtrak station and planned multi-modal transportation center and within walking distance of Illinois State University, the circle creates a micro-community of travelers, patrons, students, professors, families and children as they gather and congregate on their daily journeys.

During the day, the circle is vibrant and alive with children playing in the grassy areas, visitors coming for a place to sit and enjoy an ice cream or friendly picnic back dropped by the charming tree lined streets home to local businesses and shops. It is also the location of many community events, including the annual Sugar Creek Arts and Sweet Corn Blues Festivals, and a farmers market.”

Sarasota has more than its fair share of public spaces, mostly in the form of parks. The three mentioned at the top of this post are standouts, but so are Pioneer Park, Whitaker Gateway, the little pocket park where Mietaw Drive joins Osprey at Hyde Park, and our very own beloved Laurel Park. Streets are also public spaces, and Sarasota has some gems here as well, among them Main Street, Lemon, Cherry Lane, and Hawkins Court. There are also the multi-use recreational paths, or MURPs: one at Island Park and another east of the Trail between Siesta Drive and Webber.

What is your favorite public space in Sarasota? Which local public space needs the most improvement? Which is most ripe for an innovative makeover?

http://www.planetizen.com/toppublicspaces

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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.

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There are interesting stirrings afoot in the United States these days. From the Tea Party movement to the current Occupy Wall Street protests, Americans are making themselves heard. These two populist uprisings are generally thought to have opposing idealogical foundations, but maybe they share more common ground than is obvious at first glance. The Tea Party is a reaction to perceived government mismanagement, while the Wall Street protests are reactions to perceived corporate greed. In both cases those elected or appointed to powerful positions are being taken to task by the general public. Both are evidence that American democracy hasn’t gone the way of the dodo. Both are proof that we have not become an apathetic people. These are good things!

For those of you who might be interested in attending an Occupy Together event, whether in support or in dissent, Occupy Sarasota will meet today at 10am at the corners of Main Street and Orange Avenue.

While the individuals employed by Laurel Park Management have their own opinions (and will be happy to discuss them with you if approached on the street), LPM itself is more concerned with the airing and sharing of those opinions in a constructive manner—public discussion being one of the core attributes of a vital urban neighborhood—than with supporting any particular political party or movement. We hope Laurel Park will always be a place where neighbors of all political leanings meet and debate and challenge and uplift one another.

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