Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Architectural Critique

The following is a portion of Joan Altabe's recent column concerning the proposed Condo at US 41 and Gulfstream. The entire column can be found at this link.

Sarasota Condo Tower Design Not 'Classical'
Joan Altabe - Bradenton Herald

It's time to call a spade a shovel.

The Grande Sarasotan, an 18-story condominium tower planned as the Ritz-Carlton's new neighbor at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue, is being heralded as classical architecture. And it shouldn't be. There's little "classical" about it.

Bad enough when Realtors get style wrong, but an architect? Larry Cohan of BC Architects of Coral Gables told the press that his design yields to the town's "preference for a classical building." I've looked and looked at his proposal and all I see is a wall of windows set in a rectangle laid on its long side, like a beached whale. What's classical about that?

Unless you count the teeny pastiche on the roof - a peaked structure that looks like a Tiki hut. And depending on which Web site you see the elevation on, there are either one or three of these. To give you an idea of what the diminutive structure looks like atop the big one, imagine Goliath wearing one of those little paper party hats and you get the out-of-whack picture. Classical architecture celebrates balance, not disproportion.

Her column concerning the "Memory Path" art work in Five Points Park is also well worth reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The architects working in this town face a difficult choice; give their clients what they want, invariably the largest building that zoning alows(call it "new Sarasota classical") or find themselves unemployed and hungry.

Of course this is perfectly natural. Land costs are high, so owners and developers want a maximum return on their investments. They are lucky to be able to do business in Sarasota, which places very few restrictions on the size of the building relative to the lot size.

A few subtle changes to zoning codes could do a lot to promote good design. Things like preserving green space, lot line setbacks, and tapering back of the top stories on high rise buildings.

The simple act of freeing up space on a lot will give a creative architect the opportunity to focus on form as well as mass. The article says "classical architecture celebrates balance, not disproportion." I would take that a step farther and say all good architecture adheres to those principles.