10 Sarasota Modern Homes That Embrace Balmy Shores

10 Sarasota Modern Homes That Embrace Balmy Shores

By Alia Akkam
The Sarasota School of Architecture’s open, economical homes were fine-tuned for the Gulf Coast climate.

The Sarasota School of Architecture, also dubbed Sarasota Modern, came of age in the 1940s, led by architect Paul Rudolph and his partner Ralph Twitchell along with Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, and Tim Seibert. During the post-World War II housing boom, they built houses that embraced natural ventilation and illumination and forged strong connections with the outdoors. With their glass walls and verdant landscaping, these striking homes, as well as public buildings including Sarasota City Hall and Sarasota High School, amassed a following—even encouraging other architects to make their own mark on the movement. The modernist residences below—some of them original icons of the era, others located outside of Florida and simply inspired by the designs of Rudolph and his brethren—are all warm, clean-lined, and deft in pulling the outdoors inside.

This Sparkling New Home Is a Classic Remake of Sarasota School Modernism

Calling to mind Paul Rudolph's low-slung, midcentury glass pavilions, this Sarasota new-build by Seibert Architects features a roof that can sustain hurricane-level winds as well as sliding doors that open onto a plant-laden courtyard.

This Santa Monica home is solar-powered. Inspired by Paul Rudolph's Umbrella House, the architects—one of whom worked in Rudolph's New York office—installed solar panels into a steel-beam canopy that shades and powers almost the entire property.

Most of the year, the family keep the sliding glass doors—which span 16 feet from the living room to the exterior deck—of their Tampa dwelling open, giving it the aura of a Sarasota Modern home. Stunning cantilevered overhangs, in the spirit of Paul Rudolph's Umbrella House, help tame the sun.

Sandstone block walls abound in this 1963 Winter Haven, Florida, ranch house that was designed by Gene Leedy, one of the founders of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Sliding glass doors that lead to the patio exemplify Leedy's love of indoor/outdoor living.

Paul Rudolph built this residence in Newton, Pennsylvania, and although it signifies his shift from planar designs to more sculptural and geometric ones, the architect never publicized it. When a new owner snatched up the abode in 2014, he turned to Rudolph's original 1957 plans for guidance and added a third bay, fashioning walls out of the same stone as the original. 

In the late 1950s, Paul Rudolph transformed a municipal garage in Cambridge, Massachusetts, into a private home. A revamp in 2016 made way for a wall of 10-foot-high, triple-paneled sliding doors and windows opening onto the courtyard. To further increase fluidity, the kitchen was moved to the living area.

A deep-red door adds a pop of color to the ipe-enclosed front courtyard of this modern home in Winter Park, Florida. Maintaining an indoor/outdoor connection was important to the family, as was a simple and sustainable material palette that includes wood and polished concrete.

The original wood "umbrella" shading Paul Rudolph's Sarasota Umbrella House, completed in 1953, was lost in a storm seven years later. In 2015 it was restored to completely cover the pool area.  

Paul Rudolph completed the Martin R. and Lillian Harkavy House in 1957, its facade surrounded in columns that culminate in concrete spheres. In 2006, the Sarasota beach home incorporated a vertical addition by architect John Quinn.

Paul Rudolph protégé Tim Seibert built Hiss Studio as an office in 1953. Designed as a glass box perched atop 14 steel columns, with a massive library on the upper level, it was one of the first air-conditioned buildings in Sarasota. 

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