The History of Sarasota Modern Design

In an earlier – we like to think simpler – time, Sarasota was a mere little town on the water. The glorious climate, lush sub-tropical foliage, access to water, the Gulf and the Bay, were all attractions that made the area compelling, and still do. But back in the late 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s getting here was more difficult and time-consuming. Nonetheless, the draw was compelling and an increasing number of people of reasonable wealth and progressive outlook began to search for a place to spend winters and retirement.

These people were looking for a place that would provide shelter and comfort, but also embody a spirit of the times. The world was witnessing an emergence from the Depression and a new optimism was growing. They wanted a fresh vision, something new and original. And there was a small group of talented, energetic and artistic thinkers who had also found Sarasota and were welcoming them with their new ideas.

Among these, (I will focus this mostly on Paul Rudolf and his group) was a young architect who was starting his career. He was bright and creative, but young and inexperienced. He found employment with another architect and builder, Ralph Twitchell. Twitchell provided the young designer the guidance, experience and mentoring that served him well for many years. Rudolf became the creative force in the office, while Twitchell had the marketing, construction and office administration facilities already in place.

In the later 30’s and early 40’s these two started to put Sarasota on the national map of places of architectural interest. Their houses and buildings became published in the national press.

One of their notable contributions was a spirit of experimentation and innovation. Some of the houses are still standing and provide a great lesson in accomplishment of spacial modulation, respect of sunlight – both access to daylight and acknowledgment of the harshness of the midday sun and heat, and the use of natural ventilation. These were the days after all, before residential air conditioning.

One of my favorite houses, as an example, is the Umbrella House. While the name still sticks, the “umbrella” sadly is no longer in place. Located on Lido Key, it is really a modest house, of simple means, but great result. The exterior is paneled in vertical slats of cypress with outlines of white-painted wood trim. The street facade is a two-story exercise in restraint. It is solid on the left and right sides, with tall windows on each end, and a series of elegantly tall glass panels in the center, punctuated by the entry door.

Once you enter you are awed by the large central volume of space which wraps around you. The stair to the upper level and balcony overhead is immediately on your left, but your view is compelled forward through the house and out to the terrace, pool and pavilion beyond. The far wall of the central living space is all vertical glass panels and a series of glass doors opening out.

What is really clever and the main concept of the house is a free-standing “roof” structure that stands over the house and provides a visual and conceptual framework under which the house sits – the “umbrella”. Upon this framework a series of rafters and horizontal boards used to provide dappled shade and a marvelous sense of enclosure and protection. The original wood has since been lost to age and moisture, but one’s imagination can re-construct the framework and give one the feeling of what was a dramatic gesture and surely welcome relief from the harsher aspects of the elements, shading the terrace and especially the roof of the house, dramatically reducing the heat onto the structure.

The rest of the interior of the house is modest by today’s standards, but provides a serviceable and comfortable habitation. A master suite is at one end on the first floor, with the kitchen/dining area at the other. Upstairs are two matching bedrooms and baths, with some ingenious detailing, such as the cantilevered dressers with extend into the upper levels of the living room.

The developments that Rudolf embodied, continued as the 50’s progressed; they could be summarized by an enthusiasm for trying new things. The Second World War had brought new materials and technologies and Rudolf and others were anxious to try their hand at creating new forms and methods. Their goals were to capture the light, make open and airy living spaces, having flowing access to the outdoors, using new materials – plywood and plastics, using tried and true materials in new ways – concrete and the handsome local lime block.

Of course, Paul Rudolf was led to other commissions as his career and talent became well known. Many residential projects were built here, and quite a few remain. He designed two high schools in the area, one of which we have now sadly lost. And he has a few commercial projects still standing as well.

During this time he also received commissions for the US embassy in Amman, Jordan as well as speaking engagements in South America for the State Department. His career soon propelled him to head the department of architecture at Yale University, not only teaching and heading the school, but also designing its landmark brutalist building that was an icon for its era, matriculating if you will, not only from Sarasota, but from the style and milieu that he was seminal in helping create.

While the Sarasota School is now considered a point of time, now long ago, the legacy is a living one. We can admire the remaining examples of that original core group, and also honor the continuum of modern design by architects and designers now practicing in Sarasota. There are certainly some notable and remarkable talents still at work in our (now not so little) town. One doesn’t need to travel far to see some interesting and “edgy” designs that still proclaim a unique and personal vision of contemporary design. Stark, planar, angular, strong, colorful and daring are words that evoke some of these more successful projects that are found in our landscape and enrich our community.

Variety is the spice of life, and our stew is nicely seasoned here in Sarasota with designs modern in the past and contemporary in the present.

Landscape Paintings – A Distinct Genre of Painting

Landscape Painting is a distinct genre of painting that captures nature in its natural form. The paintings are reflections of the skies, seas, rivers, sun, moon and greeneries on the canvas. One of the earliest and traditional painting forms, landscape paintings touch the heart of the modern art lovers with all their purity, naturalness and aestheticism. Visual documents of the panorama of nature the paintings with their timeless appeal have grown over the years as inspirations to the generations of artists. Indian selection of landscape paintings are the treasure trove of India. Watch them and get engrossed in the wilderness and unspoiled beauties of nature. Take a tour and enrich yourself with interesting information on landscape paintings.

The word landscape originates from the Dutch word “landschap” denoting areas of arable lands. Depicting natural sceneries in a medley of lines, colors and tones was the outcome of the natural inclinations of human beings to reflect what they mostly found around them. The early civilizations with less industrialization and urbanization presented nature in its complete bounties. Artists and poets admired them in their creations. Life was not at all complex and it was only nature and its diverse facets that formed the central theme of the paintings.

Landscape painting in its antiquated form can be observed in the pastoral sceneries of the Roman times. The paintings gained prominence with the emergence of Renaissance Art. Nature was romanticized and portrayed as philosophical and spiritual elements. Various religious and mythological events were represented via nature. Though the spiritual tones were absent in the Reformation times the paintings became more uniform and realistic in this era. The seventeenth and eighteenth century led to the flourish of the paintings with some master artists like Watteau, Gainsborough and Thoams Girtin. The breathtaking creations reached their acme in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Various movements of arts like abstract expressionism, impressionism and surrealism influenced the painting and brought in some new styles and techniques. Nature was observed scientifically and more importance was given to its hostile aspects. In the modern and postmodern landscapes nature is synchronized with human psychologies and complexities of life. The various facets of nature resemble the moods of human beings in manifolds.

Landscape paintings have several classifications. The skyscape paintings depict clouds, skies and weather conditions. Moon is aesthetically represented in moonscape paintings. The rivers and seas find visible expression in seascapes and riverscapes. The images of urban landscapes, industrialized cities, towns and streets are carved in cityscapes and hardscapes. The aerial landscapes offer an aerial view of the objects in the ground. Inscapes are visual images of the psychoanalytical mind as a three-dimensional space. Roberto Matta, Ajmes Gleeson and Jane Farnk are the specialists in inscape paintings. Various innovations and experiments with the landscape paintings are still going on. The paintings with all their connotations and aestheticisms are a connoisseur’s delight and a prized legacy of art.

For detailed information on these Landscape Paintings please visit Landscape Paintings

Off Plan Property Investment

Investment in Off Plan properties is increasingly being seen as a way to reap very favourable returns in a fluctuating market.

Off Plan is the term used to refer to buying into a property during the state of pre-construction. The process benefits both the developer ( as they are able to finance the construction via this method ) and the investor ( as they benefit from developer’s incentivisation via discounts ). In many occasions the early purchase of such a property means that the investor buys at a stage where the property is already worth considerable more when complete due to the trends in world property prices.

The UK property market is no longer offering the prospects for returns to investors that it once was and many are now looking for Off Plan opportunities abroad.

An example of this is the massive increase in house prices currently occurring in a country such as Morocco where prices are rocketing – having increased by up to 30% in the last two years in many areas. The country is seeing a rapid rise in tourism, ( a deserved one as it has a superb climate, landscape, people and cuisine – a legacy of Berber and French influences).

Further to this there is a huge internal redevelopment scheme in progress where the infrastructure of the country is being brought up to scratch in many areas. Interest in Off Plan investments in Morocco have been further boosted by the large number of celebrities who have been purchasing property there. There is a high perceived rental income on properties also, guaranteeing increased returns for the investor.

Morocco is one of many places overseas offering tangible returns on investment via off plan property purchase. There are many other areas which merit consideration for off plan investment such as South America, the Middle East or former Soviet Block Countries such as Romania or Albania. Even traditional ‘houses abroad’ destinations are still offering viable opportunities for off plan purchases such as France and Italy.

All in all Off Plan Property Investment is an extremely attractive means by which to increase your property portfolio or to make that initial start in owning a property abroad.

An extremely useful resource for those considering overseas off plan investment can be found here: Off Plan Investments.