Save Riverview Group Organizes Supporters
With the future of Riverview High School hanging in limbo, a group of architects and preservationists are organizing their cause to convince school board members, parents and students that the 48-year-old Paul Rudolph buildings on campus are worth saving. An initial task force has been meeting with school officials for several weeks, and yesterday about 30 people met to organize a larger community effort to save the buildings. In April, the school board asked for further analysis of the existing buildings and stalled an earlier recommendation to demolish them. That analysis, along with input from the Florida Department of Education, is expected to be presented to the school board in June. “It hasn’t left the station, but the train’s already running,” said architect Guy Peterson of the time-sensitive situation. Members of the task force explained several of their key points for saving the Rudolph buildings. First, they say rehabilitating the buildings would likely reduce the total cost of the project to rebuild Riverview, currently estimated at $90 million. That claim is based on the high cost of construction materials and the likelihood that that a restoration and retrofitting project would qualify for grant money because of the historic status of the buildings.
Architect James Bowen pointed out the international interest in the issue. He said major architecture publications such as Architecture Record have reported the plans to demolish Riverview and that a petition to save the Rudolph buildings is now circulating among architects worldwide. “It’s one of the first really important modern schools around the world,” said architect Carl Abbott. Part of the group’s goal is to bring that knowledge and energy to local residents. Tearing down the historic buildings would be a “black eye” to a community that purports to be a cultural center, several people said.
Rather than destroy the buildings, the group is asking that the school district tie its new buildings into that original campus, which was the first high school built in Sarasota County outside city limits. The buildings allow flexibility and can be adapted to current needs of students by moving internal walls and adding all the latest technologies and amenities of a state-of-the-art facility.
“We have to teach the children that it’s not OK to tear down these buildings,” Abbott said.
[From SRQ Magazine's Page One Newsletter]
Picture shows architects Carl Abbott, James Bowen, and Guy Peterson.