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School Board approves plan for Rudolph canopy walkway at Sarasota High

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SHS canopy section south of gymSHS Building 4 renovated

SHS LANDMARK: in top photo, a large section of the Paul Rudolph-designed canopy walkway on the west campus of Sarasota High School, installed in the 1960s, will be restored following an agreement reached by the Sarasota County School Board and the Sarasota Architectural Foundation. Bottom photo: The 1960 Paul Rudolph-designed Building 4 at Sarasota High School, renovated and reopened in fall 2015, includes a canopy walkway along the front steps. Now the home of science classrooms and administrative offices, the iconic building faces Bahia Vista Street and is the focal point of the reconfigured entrance to the school.

SARASOTA, April 26, 2017 – The School Board of Sarasota County has approved a plan to retain and restore a large section of the Paul Rudolph-designed concrete canopy walkway at Sarasota High School. The agreement between the School Board and the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) was approved April 18 at a regular meeting of the Board.

“This agreement is a great example of a community initiative,” said Sarasota County Schools Assistant Superintendent/Chief Operating Officer Scott Lempe. “The plan for the canopy walkway at Sarasota High, developed by SAF and district staff, follows a successful effort five years ago to get suggestions from citizens about improvements and additions to the campus.”

The Sarasota County School District held community engagement meetings in June 2012 to seek public input about changes to the campus of Sarasota High School. As a result, the School Board and district staff agreed to renovate Rudolph’s 1960 additions to the campus, designated as Buildings 4 and 5. Rudolph was a leader in the midcentury regional architectural movement known as the Sarasota School of Architecture.

In March 2015, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation reached an agreement with Ringling College of Art and Design to retain a section of the Rudolph canopy walkway originally scheduled for demolition as part of the repurposing of the historic SHS building on U.S. 41, also known as Building 41. The Collegiate Gothic building will house the Sarasota Museum of Art when it opens to the public. The new School Board-SAF agreement identifies the portion of the Rudolph canopy walkway that remains and specifies the conditions for its renovation. 

“Like the agreement we reached with Ringling College two years ago, this new agreement with the School Board is great news for fans of Paul Rudolph’s work,” said Dr. Michael Kalman, a member of the SAF Board of Directors. “The canopy walkway links the Rudolph buildings on the Sarasota High campus with the historic 1927 SHS building that is being transformed into the Sarasota Museum of Art. Education and art in all its forms — including architecture — will be celebrated and showcased at this center of creativity and learning. We’re pleased that SAF is playing a part in this ongoing community success story.”  

The agreement with SAF and the School Board follows the school district’s fall 2015 completion of the renovation of the campus’s iconic Building 4 by Harvard Jolly Architecture and Jonathan Parks of Solstice Planning and Architecture. The structure now houses the school’s administrative offices and science classrooms, and is the focal point of the school’s reconfigured entrance from Bahia Vista Street. The building’s exterior now appears as it did when it first opened in 1960. The new, unobstructed view of the renovated Building 4 from the street has led some observers to ask, “What’s that new building at Sarasota High?”

As part of the agreement about the canopy walkway, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation has agreed to fund the additional renovation costs, estimated to be $34,000. Renovations will take place as part of the final phase of the SHS campus renovations, scheduled to be completed in August 2017. The plan also calls for SAF to install a plaque on one of the canopy pillars, designating the architectural significance of the canopy walkway.

The canopy walkway is located south of the Sarasota High football stadium and west of Building 4. Some of it has been removed to facilitate renovations of both the SMOA building and the Rudolph-designed gymnasium, now repurposed to house the SHS art and JROTC programs.

Other additions to the Sarasota High campus include a new cafeteria and the Edward F. Howell Gymnasium. Both buildings opened in March 2016. When completed, the Sarasota High campus enhancements are projected to cost approximately $42 million. The design and construction team includes Harvard Jolly Architecture, Tandem Construction and Paul Pitcher, project manager for the school district.

About Sarasota County Schools

Dedicated to academic excellence, Sarasota County Schools encompasses 52 schools with 43,000 students and 5,000 employees. It is only of only three “A” districts in the state as designated by the Florida Department of Education, and is one of only two districts to be graded “A” every year since grading began in 2004. 

About the Sarasota Architectural Foundation

The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement, helping to preserve or rehabilitate its irreplaceable buildings and demonstrating its relevance to the contemporary built environment. More information is at


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