The burning question for the Sarasota Architectural Foundation concerns its 2018 Sarasota MOD Weekend event, which will focus on a man considered by many to be Sarasota’s most famous architect.
That would be Paul Marvin Rudolph (1918-1997), the famed modernist and Brutalist architect who started his career in Sarasota.
However, SAF has been there and done that — at the 2015 MOD Weekend.
So the question is, “How will your recognition of Paul Rudolph be different than it was two years ago?”
SAF’s board chairman, Christopher Wilson, called it a “good question.”
“We are thinking a lot more in-depth on the tours,” said Wilson, a professor of architectural history at Ringling College of Art + Design, who researched Rudolph’s output of built structures and determined that 23 percent (36 of 157) were built in the Sarasota area from the late 1940s to around 1960.
“We will totally focus on what we have here.”
The goal is for tour-goers to be able to go inside several notable Rudolph structures, some of them privately owned, for up-close tours led by docents.
“It will be all things Rudolph,” Wilson said.
The hook here is that the architect was born 100 years ago. For an organization that is focused on the history and heritage of mid-century modern architecture, the centennial is an obvious cause for celebration.
After gaining wide acclaim for his Sarasota work, Rudolph in the late 1950s became dean of architecture at Yale, where he taught Sarasota’s Carl Abbott, among many other notables.
I am told that SAF has lined up a notable keynote speaker for MOD Weekend; his identity will be revealed at 5:30 p.m. Monday, when SAF dedicates “Paul Rudolph Way” at Sarasota High School, with a short ceremony in the parking lot just south of the Sarasota Museum of Art, 1001 S. Tamiami Trail.
It will be followed by a reception one block to the north inside the Sarasota Museum of Art's pop-up space, The Works, at 891 S. Tamiami Trail.
“The Works” was formerly Visionworks, and before that Galloway’s furniture store, which was architect Victor Lundy’s 1959 round glass showpiece before it was subjected to an ugly renovation.
SMOA owns the building now, and it is anticipated that SMOA’s executive director, Anne-Marie Russell, will say a few words. I would love to hear her say, “We are going to restore the building to its original splendor.”
As for Paul Rudolph Way, you may recall that SAF campaigned hard a couple years ago to prevent the demolition of the covered “canopy” walkway between what is now SMOA and the Rudolph-designed 1960 “Building 4” on the high school campus. SAF was successful in that effort, as it signed off on an arrangement in which a section of the canopy would be removed to allow truck access to the rear of the collegiate-gothic SMOA building. It was constructed in 1927 as Sarasota High School.
On Monday, SAF will unveil plaques on two of the canopy’s supports that commemorate Rudolph’s career and mid-century modernism in Sarasota.
“We are celebrating both Paul Rudolph’s legacy and also the collaboration of SAF and the school board,” Wilson said. “We had to get permission to put up the plaques, and also gave money to make sure the canopies remain. Our donors will be there.”
From 1 to 3 p.m. April 28, SAF is sponsoring a drive-yourself field trip to the Rudolph-designed Walker Guest House on Sanibel Island, two hours south of Sarasota by car. Architects Joyce Owens and Joe King will lead tours of the little beach house, and King will show off the new shading/privacy “flaps” he recently installed to replace the 1952 originals.
The Modern Show seeks donations
The Center for Architecture Sarasota is seeking donations of modernist furniture and decorative items for its third annual Modern Show on May 4-5 at 265 S. Orange Ave.
Donations will be accepted through April 28. Call 941-350-5430 to arrange free pick-up or for information on dropping off items.
The event features tours, a cocktail party and pre-sale on May 4 and the sale, gallery talks and an architectural scavenger hunt on May 5. Information: themodernshow.com.
About that purple building on the bay ...
The conversation ramps up in earnest this week with public presentations by the Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization regarding The Bay redevelopment project.
You may wish to attend one of these to voice your opinions on the project and the future of Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the GWiz building.
The workshop schedule:
• Tuesday, 5-7 p.m., Robert L. Taylor Community Complex, 1845 John Rivers St.
• Wednesday, 8:30-10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Van Wezel Hall Grand Foyer, 777 N. Tamiami Trail.
• Wednesday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., Sarasota Orchestra Holley Hall, 709 N. Tamiami Trail. This is a community forum presented by the Herald-Tribune.
The author is former real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune, now semi-retired. Email: Harold.Bubil@heraldtribune.com.