Remembering an Icon: Edward J. "Tim" Seibert

Architecture

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY DEC 5, 2018

Sarasota’s architectural community lost a titan this weekend, with the passing of acclaimed architect Edward J. “Tim” Seibert, who died this past Sunday in Boca Grande. He was 91.

A powerful figure in the architectural movement that came to be known as the Sarasota School of Architecture, defining the style alongside fellow masters of the built environment like Paul Rudolph and Victor Lundy, Seibert had a hand in creating the Sarasota architectural scene since the 1950s, when he made his mark on Lido Shores, where he designed his own home. Catching the eye of developer Phil Hiss, Seibert was also tapped to design Hiss Studio, a landmark structure in its own right.

Seibert’s impact on the city only grew from there, and several of his contributions, such as the Bay Plaza condominiums off Palm Avenue, the Cooney House on St. Armands Key and the Siesta Beach Pavilion, remain must-sees for the architecturally inclined. Eventually opening his own architectural firm, Seibert Architects still bears the name as it now bears his legacy.

But another part of Seibert’s legacy, perhaps the part that won’t be so commemorated in coffee table books and architecture retrospectives, would be his reputation as a people person—especially following such particularly prickly acts as Rudolph and Lundy. “Seibert was much more down to Earth,” says Dr. Christopher Wilson, chairman of the board for Sarasota Architectural Foundation. As opposed to what Wilson refers to as “hero architects” like Rudolph and Lundy, who made their names in Sarasota and then went on to New York and beyond to craft their personal legacies, Seibert stayed loyal to Sarasota, and his clients stayed loyal to him. “They would come back to him and continue to work with him over the course of decades,” says Wilson, “which is, with any architect, an indication of what kind of person they are.”

And while some of those hero architects never missed an opportunity to self-promote, Seibert preferred the quiet dignity of the recognition his work garnered on its own. “He didn’t promote himself like that,” says Wilson.

He could have if he wanted, however. And Wilson still sings the praises of Seibert’s design for the Bay Plaza condominiums, which went the extra mile to feature eight different floor plans instead of cookie-cutter creations, and to somehow give every resident a corner property.

Wilson remembers meeting Seibert at SAF’s 2017 SarasotaMOD Weekend, which honored the late architect through a series of tours and lectures. At one point in the 1980s, Seibert remembered, nearly 80% of Longboat Key was on his drafting board. Not everything came to fruition, of course, but the startling assessment belied an important truth—that Seibert had made an undeniable impact on the shape and feel of the community.

“And you don’t know,” says Wilson. “It’s not until you start scratching the surface that it comes out.”

Seibert is survived by his wife, Lynne, and daughter, Pandora.

Pictured: Edward J. "Tim" Seibert at SAF's 2017 SarasotaMOD Weekend. Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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