Walker Guest House

Paul Rudolph’s iconic 1952 Walker guest house has been rebuilt on the grounds of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota, Florida (Nov.6, 2015-Oct.6, 2016). The plan is a 24’x24′ box with shutters that open and close to create outdoor rooms, breezeways, views and privacy. The shutters are operated like ships sails with ropes, pulleys, and cement beach ball shaped weights. Not surprising since Rudolph worked building ships in the Brooklyn navy yard before becoming an architect! It was originally built on Sanibel Island, Florida using standard local materials. The replica is furnished with original furnishings, including some designs by Rudolph. The house will travel to different cities, so don’t miss it! www.ringling.org

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Syrie Maugham

Syie Maugham, was a leading british decorator of the 1920’s and 30’s, know for designing the first all white room (which is more disco era than it’s date of 1932). She established her own interior decorating business, Syrie LTD., at 85 Baker Street, London in 1922. Born during the Victorian era, know for it dark claustrophobic interiors, Syrie rejected this style for a lighter aesthetic. This included light filled rooms, white furnishing and upholstery and mirrored screens to bring in even more light. She achieved her white interiors with the use of rich materials and textures including shell, fur, white leather and suede, satin, velvet and plaster. She would strip and re-paint precious antiques to match her palette. By 1934 the all white room had gone out of fashion to be revamped in the 1970’s.


Above: The all white Room (1932); photo for Vogue magazine shot in Syrie’s white room; Mirrored breakfront, by Syrie Maugham; All white bedroom, with signature fabric; Syrie lamp with mirrored hexagon base (1935).

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Hidden Gems

I was recently in Sarasota, Florida and here are a few unusual Sarasota School of Architecture buildings I took a look at, by Paul Rudolph, Ralph Twitchell, etc.

Tim Seibert’s Cooney house on St. Armand’s Key

Paul Rudolph’s, 1949 Burnette beach house

Ralph Twitchell’s 1940, Lu Andrews bayou residence

Ralph Twitchell’s 1941 Glorieux residence

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Marimekko!!!

Since 1951, Marimekko has been selling modern textiles and housewares. Designers such as MAIJA and KRISTINA ISOLA and KLAUS HAAPANIEMI have been collaborating on bold, fresh and timeless designs and products. Below are some of the Spring/Summer 2010 offerings. Just image that lovely pink and black floral by Maija Isola, as glam new upholstery on that vintage danish chair you found at a yard sale! $43 a yard.

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Victor Lundy’s Soaring Rooflines

Why were so many great architects practicing in Sarasota, Florida after WWII? Yes, they were drawn to the sunny climate and natural landscape. They were inspired by Frank LLoyd Wright who had just completed his Florida Southern College buildings, and some, including Paul Rudolph had come to work for architect Paul Twitchell, who did work for John Ringling. I must say, that although Paul Rudolph is my favorite architect, I am also really drawn to the works of the lesser known Victor Lundy. Born in Manhattan, and one of Rudolph’s fellow students at Harvard, Victor Lundy did his first comission in Florida in 1951. From designing a pneumatic structure for The 1966 New York World’s Fair, a drive-in church pavilion that was featured in Life magazine, to the vacation house he designed for his family in Aspen, Colorado, awe inspiring churches in Connecticut and Harlem, and the IBM headquarters in Cranford, NJ, the work he did in Florida is just a small part of his amazing career. Many of Lundy’s works incorporate graceful curves and soaring rooflines. Laminated wood beams sweep upward, ceilings curve toward the sky and pavilions mushroom from the earth. Where Paul Rudolph was all about straight lines and flat planes, Lundy used arcs and textured panels. More to come…

1966 NY World’s Fair Air Pavilion


Sarasota, Florida Chamber of Commerce, 1956

IBM building, Cranford, NJ & Galloways Furniture Showroom, 1959, Sarasota, Florida

Drive-In Church, Nokomis, Florida, 1954

Warm Mineral Hot Springs Motel, Venice, Florida

Sarasota, Florida Post Office

Lundy Rooflines

Lutheran Church, Sarasota, Florida


Church of the Resurrection, Harlem, NY, 1966 (demolished)

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Paul Rudolph

Paul Rudolph is undeniably one of my favorite architects, and one of the most unrecognized Modernists. I first became aware of Rudolph’s work while visiting Sarasota, Florida. There are numerous examples of his work built between 1948-1960, still standing in Florida, although some of his important projects have been torn down.

Educated at Alabama Polytechnic Institute and Harvard Graduate school under the chairmanship of Walter Gropius, Rudolph incorporate many of his modernist lessons into his design but took things a little further. His time spent working as a naval architect at the Brooklyn Navy Yard introduced him to many new materials and technologies. His Florida work was a reaction to the regional climate and the natural surroundings. Pre-air conditioning, Rudolph used material and technology and clever design in a way that architects today could still learn from.

In his work he incorporated many mechanisms of climate control, including ventilated concrete walls, internal patios, large overhangs, breezways and pavillions, wooden shutters, sunshades, sliding screen panels, recessed and louvered windows, and site plans that allowed breezes and shade. His use of innovative and local materials, included steel reinforced masonry, which resisted termites, moisture, heat and hurricanes, local cypress beams, Ocala block, and shell concrete and terrazzo.

While some of Rudolph’s work is being celebrated, such as the rededicating of the Yale Art & Architecture building, much of his work is in danger. His Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida was recently demolished, and an elementary school in Middletown, NY is in danger of being torn down. To read more about saving this school go to The Paul Rudolph Foundation website: www.paulrudolph.org. Or to sign the petition to save click here.

Below are some favorite examples of Rudolph’s work.


Lamolithic Houses, 1949

Lamolithic Houses interior courtyard, 1949


Lamolithic Houses, 1949


New York Townhouse, & elevation drawing with originally planned additional stories (Lib of Cong)


Yale Art & Architecture Building


Sarasota High School, 1959-60

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Umbrella Restored

The owners of the Umbrella House in the Lido Shores neighborhood of Sarasota, Florida are restoring the umbrella sunshade that was blown away in a storm. Designed by architect Paul Rudolph in 1953, the original design included a sheltering canopy, that provided filtered light and shade for the main body of the house and pool area. The restoration is being done in two phases to make the project more affordable. First the shading structure over the house will be built to reduce cooling bills. Phase two will extend the shade back over the pool deck. The original umbrella stood for 25 years until it was was lost in the 1970’s. This time, to make sure it withstands the Florida climate, while retaining it’s original appearance, the structure will be made of cypress clad aluminum, with 350 pound concrete footings and stainless-steel anchor posts. Once the umbrella is complete it will not only restore the integrity of the design, but it will also restore Paul Rudolph’s intended function.



Architectural Digest named Paul Rudolph’s Umbrella House “One of the five most remarkable houses of the mid twentieth century.”

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