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Sarasota has a longtime love affair with great architecture, from John and Mable Ringling’s 1920s Venetian-style mansion, Ca d Z’an, to the clean-lined beach homes designed in the 1950s and ’60s by Paul Rudolph and other “Sarasota School” architects, as they came to be known.

In recognition of that tradition, Sarasota Magazine once again has collaborated with the AIA Florida Gulf Coast chapter on its biennial design awards, including A Spirit of Sarasota Award, chosen by a panel of experts, for the new building that best captures the essence of our city. There is also a People’s Choice Spirit of Sarasota winner. The winners were announced at the biennial Sarasota Design Conference, taking place at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota through June 18.

This year, the judges named two Spirit of Sarasota Architecture award winners, one each in residential and institutional architecture.

The residential winner is Venezia Park Historic District, the Niwa project located in the heart of Venice’s Venezia Park Historic Project, designed by Jon Barrick. The owners took a midcentury tract home and, through use of design principles and materials, transformed it into a Sarasota School of Architecture home. “It was noble to preserve that unassuming house; it would have been so easy to demolish it and start over,” said one judge. They applauded its sensitivity to the neighborhood. “It was doubled in size yet still retains its charm.”  “It honors the integrity of the house and the integrity of the neighborhood.” And the emphasis on sustainability is to be admired: “cross-ventilation, outdoor living, conserving an existing building.”

The institutional winner is the Sarasota National Cemetery, by Gary Hoyt, Hoyt Architects. The judges praised its “evocation of solemnity.” “We love the approach, the way it captures dramatic vistas—the open Florida sky above that American flag,” said one judge. “It is well done. A great example for other communities to follow.” They cited the incorporation of artwork in various mediums, and the project’s “high drama.”

And the People’s Choice winner, based on votes submitted to sarasotamagazine.com, is the Sarasota National Cemetery.

Congratulations to all the winners.

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