The years: 1941 to 1966. The place: Sarasota, Florida. The story: a sudden burst of fresh, innovative houses by a group of Americans who caught the imagination of the international architectural community.
Inflected by local climate, construction practices, regional culture, and Florida life-style, the work of the Sarasota school of architecture—founded by Ralph Twitchell and counting Paul Rudolph, Mark Hampton, Victor Lundy, and Gene Leedy among its practitioners—marks a high point in the development of regional modernism in American architecture.
Although the Sarasota school wasn't a consciously organized movement, it was an important chapter in American modernism that, unlike the earlier Bay Area school and Chicago school, has received little study or published scholarly treatment. John Howey, who practices architecture in the region, provides the first solid documentation of the Sarasota group's designs and theories. He has interviewed all of the surviving architects and original clients and has included a rich archive of photographs by Ezra Stoller, Alexandra Georges, and others whose views, particularly of the houses built between 1950 and 1960, gained world-wide exposure when they were first published forty years ago.
Howey first investigates the early influences on the Sarasota group, particularly of Frank Lloyd Wright in Florida. He then discusses such pivotal events as the opening of Ralph Twitchell's office in 1936 and the arrival of Paul Rudolph in 1941. Later chapters illustrate the effect of World War II on the Sarasota architects; early postwar successes of Twitchell and Rudolph; the influences of the Bauhaus and International Style; the tendency of various Sarasota architects to create their own design directions the arrival of Victor Lundy in 1954; the effect of changing economic, social, and political agendas on Sarasota's culture; and the philosophy and results of the Sarasota school.