Founded in 2002, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting architectural excellence within the Sarasota Community, and advocating to preserve and increase awareness of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement.
The internationally-known movement began in the 1940s, bringing fresh, innovative designs to Sarasota homes and marking the high point in the development of regional modernism in American architecture. Founded by Ralph Twitchell and Paul Rudolph, it counts Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, Tim Seibert, Jack West, and Carl Abbott among its practitioners. “The Sarasota School architects were using simple materials at the time, but were really pushing the boundaries of modern design,” says Janet Minker, SAF Board Chair. “We’re so lucky to have some of these amazing structures still standing today.”
SAF is the outgrowth of An American Legacy: The Sarasota School of Architecture Tour and Symposium, a five-day showcase in 2001. Developed by members of the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, the tour was attended by design professionals, scholars, and individuals from around the world, and was comprised of lectures, guided bus and boat tours, a documentary, exhibitions, and social events.
Since then, SAF has presented numerous architectural tours of homes and public buildings, film screenings, and educational events for design professionals and the general public. In addition to funding two annual SAF-Paul Rudolph scholarships for architecture students, the organization also informs city and county leaders about the importance of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement and the benefits of preserving its structures. In fact, SAF was instrumental in advocating for the rehabilitation of the Paul Rudolph-designed Sarasota High School Addition and continues to advocate to retain the school’s Rudolph Walkway Canopy.
For the last three years, SAF has hosted SarasotaMOD Weekend, a mid-century modern architecture festival. As part of the 2015 SarasotaMOD Weekend, SAF constructed a full-scale replica of the 1952 Paul Rudolph-designed Walker Guest House. The replica opened for tours on November 6, 2015, on the grounds of The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Since its opening, SAF’s trained docents have greeted over 44,000 visitors, and counting, as the exhibit remains open daily with free admission until April 2017.
Resident Nathalie McCulloch has been an active member of the Sarasota community for over 40 years, with a dedicated focus on the local architectural movement. She has been an SAF member since its inception, serving as a docent for many years. In addition, two of the Walker Guest House docents can be found here at Plymouth Harbor — Carolyn Montgomery and Suzanne Freund. To serve in this position, the two participated in a training program focused on the project’s history, the architect himself, and the home’s design principles. Suzanne Freund comments, “My husband and I always had an interest in architecture, and it’s quite interesting to serve as a docent. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with architects from all over the world — China, Italy, and Brazil to name a few.”
If you’re interested in learning more about SAF, please visit www.SarasotaArchitecturalFoundation.org.