SAF and CFAS Imagine the Possibilities with Rudolph Exhibition

Architecture

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY MAY 15, 2019

From the Umbrella House in Lido Shores and the addition to the Sarasota High School, to houses and homes ranging from Siesta Key’s Cohen House to Casey Key’s Burkhardt-Cohen House and the Taylor Residence in Venice, the work of acclaimed architect Paul Rudolph, in part, defines this local built environment—and has been celebrated as such. But what of those projects imagined yet unrealized? What further architectural additions might have been? Unbuilt Rudolph, an exhibition created by Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) and opening tomorrow at Center For Architecture Sarasota (CFAS), sheds some light on the question.

Curated by Nathan Skiles, the exhibition highlights 13 projects that Rudolph designed, but that were never built, using high-quality reproductions of Rudolph’s own conceptual drawings, now preserved in the Library of Congress. The projects come from the years 1948–1956, and all were to be constructed in Florida, including six planned for Sarasota and some designed in collaboration with Ralph Twitchell. In all, the slate ranges from houses to retail, and even a church and an airport.

Unbuilt Rudolph initially debuted for a limited three-day run as part of the 2018 Sarasota MOD Weekend, celebrating the centennial of Rudolph’s birth, but scheduling conflicts prevented a longer showcase at the time. This fresh exhibition gives viewers a second chance to take a peek, while CFAS and SAF take their first shot at collaboration.

“It’s a beautiful exhibition and we’re proud to have it,” says CFAS Board Chairperson David Lowe, who served as Skiles’ assistant in installing the exhibition this past Tuesday. Grouped in clusters of four or five, or lining the far wall, Rudolph’s carefully designed dreams arrest the eyes, commanding the room without insisting. Lowe cannot help but gush. “The images are just gorgeous,” he says. “I don’t know how long Rudolph spent on these-”

“A long time,” assures Dr. Christopher Wilson, SAF Board Chair.

“There’s one where he did a dot for like every blade of grass,” Lowe continues.

And though Rudolph eventually set up shop in New York City and designed buildings as far abroad as Hong Kong and Indonesia, for Wilson, there remains something special about Rudolph’s time in Sarasota. “He left a huge mark in a very short time,” he says.

Lowe agrees: “He’s what put mid-century modernism on the map in Sarasota.”

Opening Thursday with a 5:30pm opening reception at the CFAS McCulloch Pavilion, Unbuilt Rudolph will be on display through June 15. On May 30, Wilson will lead a walkthrough, and, on June 6, Carl Abbott will deliver a lecture on Rudolph’s life and work.

Pictured: Paul Rudolph's 1954 design for what would have been the Bostwick Residence in Palm Beach. Image courtesy of SAF and the Library of Congress.

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