Tonight (June 7) is the workhorse session of the Sarasota High School Charrette. I am deferring to the Sarasota Architectural Foundation on the planning pros and cons as they relate to preservation of the Paul Rudolph designed buildings. (For great photos of the High School’s architectural, see this link. For the excellent SAF presentation of options, see this link.)
Here are my observations as community advocate on the project:
- The design is pretty much like a prison, but with students instead of prisoners. This, however, is out of the School Board’s hands.
- Smart Growth advocates have spent a great deal of time on school location, namely, the 1990’s trend of relocating schools to distant vacant plots while shuttering in-town facilities. However, there is now a bigger problem with in-town schools as demand for city living increases. The school redesign guidelines are creating super secure facilities that do a lot to keep the public out. One of the big tenets of smart growth is shared facilities, but in any Florida discussion of schools, interaction with the public comes across as a risky proposition.
- The speakers were BIG on 21st century learning, and spent a lot of time on classroom design for collaboration, technology, and working in teams. While I don’t disagree, it comes across a little like Google campus fetish. For more information on 21st Century learning – here’s a link.
- Collaboration within the school is one thing, but it’s collaboration outside the boundaries that matters more. Connections to the Ringling College rehab of the old High School should be a big deal, and may have to be more about operations than building design.
- New Urbanist’s complaints with modernism’s excesses finally hit me. There was a lot of talk about green and saving money, but that’s where sub-tropical architecture comes into play to (1) catch breezes, (2) promote awnings, breezeways and shade, and (3) calibrate internal space for air flow and cooling. Paul Rudolph’s designs do this: the school plans under discussion feature lots of glassed in cubic space and large south-facing windows that would make any Florida Power & Light executive love modern modernism.
Last night was packed – please try to drop in:
June 7 from 5:30 to 8:30pm
Conference Center, Sarasota County Technical Institute (faces Proctor Road)
4748 Beneva Road, Sarasota, FL