Hiss House

Hiss House

Image: John Pirman

The 2021 Sarasota MOD Weekend, which will be held Nov. 12-14, will celebrate the origins of Architecture Sarasota—the newly formed entity that encompasses Sarasota Architectural Foundation and Center for Architecture Sarasota—and Philip Hanson Hiss, a real estate developer and primary catalyst of the modern architecture movement in Sarasota.

The three-day festival will celebrate how Hiss’s forward-thinking ideas gave rise to the origins of the Sarasota School of Architecture (SSA). Hiss, a visionary civic, education and design leader, will also be celebrated in Architecture Sarasota’s exhibition The Vision of Philip Hiss, which opens in October.

Hiss’s philosophy was that good design could make a difference in how people engaged with civic buildings—such as schools, colleges and municipal buildings—caused him to run for the Sarasota County School Board, help establish New College and immerse himself in local government. Notably, Hiss set up a competition to design New College’s campus, attracting 10 of the most renowned architects of the day and awarding I.M. Pei the commission. Hiss felt strongly that good design and educational outcomes were integrally connected and envisioned New College as a place of “complete freedom of inquiry."

The Paul Rudolph-designed Riverview High School and Sarasota High School and Victor Lundy’s Alta Vista Elementary School are a few examples of Hiss’s design influence. In 1958, Time magazine celebrated Sarasota’s public school renaissance, led by Hiss, writing that Sarasota could "top any community in the U.S. in school architecture.”  

The full slate of Sarasota MOD Weekend events will be announced in early July; for more information, click here.