An Architectural Tour of Sarasota

On a recent trip to Sarasota, Florida – home to many mid-century buildings of modern architecture – OvS Principal Eric Groft and his good friend and fellow UVA alumnus Marilyn Nordby conducted their very own architectural “drive-by” tour.

Many of the homes and buildings that they visited were listed in the Sarasota Architectural Foundation’s 2009 book – Tour Sarasota Architecture – and are concentrated in the neighborhoods of Avondale and Lido Shores.

The tour allowed them to soak in the styles created by 20th Century architect Paul Rudolph – whom Eric and OvS Founding Principal Jim van Sweden interviewed at the architect’s renowned Beekman Place apartment in NYC – and other local modernist architects who went on to found the Sarasota School of Architecture (SSA), a regional style of post-war architecture characterized by its attention to climate and terrain.

Perhaps their most notable stop was Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House – an icon of mid-century modernism which serves as the most recognized example of the SSA.

Other notable stops on their architectural tour included Sarasota High School, designed in part by Paul Rudolph in 1958 and an iconic example of the Sarasota modern style due to its minimalist buildings with flat roofs and planar walls but with attention to the tropical climate; the Martin Harkavy House – also designed by Paul Rudolph – that contains broad overhangs, thin framing and an open carport, working to create a home both light and monumental; the Mumford Pool House – designed by Jonathan Parks Architect – whom OvS was fortunate to collaborate with on a large estate in Harford, Maryland; the recently completed Williams House by Guy Peterson of OFA, Inc. which takes full advantage of its narrow 80-foot wide lot through the extension of its “floor plan” to the property boundaries, and the curvaceous, free-form sculptural styled Palm Avenue Parking Garage – also by Jonathan Parks Architect.