Commercial Designs of Distinction

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2007

A bank, a bar, a bookshop, a new shopping center and two restaurants are just some of the 12 projects that earned a spot in our fourth annual Commercial Designs of Distinction. From a restoration of a landmark building to Florida’s first “green”-certified office building, these projects are an impressive mix of historical authenticity, modern innovation and environmental awareness. We applaud the region’s architectural talent and the businesses that invested in such fresh and functional working environments.


Project Architect: Guy Peterson Office for Architecture, Inc.; Guy W. Peterson and C. Alan Anderson

Contractor: Southern Cross

Guy Peterson dished up a double helping of modern sophistication in his redo of a building on St. Armands’ northwest quadrant that now houses a bottle shop and brasserie on the ground floor and a more formal restaurant above. The architect opened up the formerly nondescript building to the outdoors with glass walls, an open atrium and, on the second floor, higher ceilings and a floating roof that allows for clerestory lighting. The result: a bright, stylish new home for two chic restaurants and new life for a somewhat neglected part of the Circle.


Project Architect:

Guy Peterson Office for Architecture, Inc.; Guy W. Peterson and David K. Lowe

Landscape Architect: David Young

Contractor: Carlisle and Company

Peterson once again shone the spotlight this year on modern commercial design, this time in his expansion and renovation of the Light Up Your Life retail store on North Tamiami Trail. The new two-story display space, easy to spot from the street for its bold color-block exterior, incorporates a series of rotated and interlocked “window cubes” with detached window walls that provide a dramatic showcase for the contemporary lighting company’s forward-looking merchandise. The existing building was renovated to blend seamlessly with the new.



Brigid Hewes

Major Subcontractor: Miller Insulation of Bradenton

An old photograph of the Archibald Building, published in the Sarasota Times when it was built in 1925, provided the blueprint for restoration of the historic, four-story office building, home of the Main Bookshop on Main Street opposite Hollywood 20. Bookshop owners Scott Proffitt and Shane Saah, who grew up in Sarasota, brought natural light back into the building by restoring the upper-story windows that had been removed in the 1970s. Interior designer Brigid Hewes installed cast-stone windowsills and mosaic glass tiles to visually separate the floors on the exterior. When the parapet, thought to have been destroyed, was exposed during reconstruction, they found the original lettering of the Archibald Building largely intact. Now restored, it proudly proclaims the building’s place in Sarasota history.


Project Architect:

Bill Fisher, Fisher and Associates

Contractor: Sikon Construction

When the Broadway Bar, a beloved neighborhood pizzeria housed in a tattered 50-year-old building at 10th Street and North Tamiami Trail, was torn down three years ago to make way for the Broadway Promenade condominium-retail-office project, Tampa architect Bill Fisher and several “friends of the Broadway bar” banded together to save many of the architectural elements that helped make it a favorite of generations of Sarasotans: the Italian glass exterior tiles said to have been transported on the ill-fated Andrea Doria ocean liner, the nifty-50s neon sign, and a mural painted in 1958 by a Ringling School of Art and Design teacher. The glass tiles will be used as accents in the flooring, the neon sign will be hung in the two-story entrance atrium, and the mural will be remounted in the dining room. When the restaurant reopens later this year, in a two-story brick building just behind its old location that Fisher designed, these architectural details will pay homage to a Sarasota landmark while anchoring the redevelopment of the North Trail.


Project Architect: Fawley Bryant Architects, Inc.

Contractor: Willis A. Smith Construction

A thoroughly contemporary building with a past. That’s an apt description for the new Schroeder Manatee Ranch corporate headquarters off Lorraine Road in Lakewood Ranch. The 30,000-square-foot, two-story office building is the first commercial building in Florida to be certified by the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC), while its Craftsman-style architectural details evoke an earlier era. Among its “green” elements: more efficient refrigerant; use of energy recovery ventilators as part of the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning; and drought-tolerant landscaping and water-efficient irrigation. A nice touch: the water feature in the lobby is made from indigenous shell found at the ranch.


Project Architect:

Lawson Group Architects, Don Lawson and Scott Wilk

Contractor: Wessel Construction Corporation

The city of Sarasota’s new Downtown Code was put to the test—and passed with flying colors—with the handsome Bank of Commerce building in the 1800 block of Ringling Boulevard. Owner Dr. Mark Kauffman and architect Don Lawson worked closely with the city building department to showcase the new code’s positive aspects in the three-story, 25,000-square-foot building. Hence the building’s relationship right up to the sidewalk, its street frontage, placement of windows and doors, transparency of the glazing, materials incorporated into the façade and roof configuration. After an oftentimes contentious, years-long process to pass the new Downtown Code, meet the shape of things to come.


Project Architect:

Lawson Group Architects, Don Lawson and Farrell Wood

Project Architect: Kellogg and Kimsey

Nothing can match the historic charms of the Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy, of course, but San Marco Plaza, the newest upscale destination shopping center in Lakewood Ranch, works hard with its brick-paved streets, outdoor lakeside amphitheater and five-story clock tower that rises from the center of the circular piazza. Don Lawson’s goal in creating four separate buildings was to create intimate, elegant spaces in keeping with a traditional European village. We like the lyrical curves.


Project Architect:

Sivitz Innovative Designs, Ronald W. Sivitz (Sivitz began this project when he was with Tichenor Group Architects)

Project Architect: Dooley Mack Constructors

A welcome break from the Med Rev rampage, the just-completed Sawyer Oaks Professional Park—10 one-story buildings of 5,000 square feet each and two two-story buildings, one 11,000 and the other 27,000 square feet—has a light, Old Florida architectural style with tin roofs and candy-colored exteriors banded in white. The Key West theme is carried through inside with white bead-board wainscoting, wood chair rails, stepped ceilings with crown moldings and stained wood stairs. If you’ve got to spend all day in the office, it might as well feel like a resort.


Project Architect:

TRO Jung/Brannen, Kent F. Ley

Contractor: Keyco, Inc.

Medical buildings boast some of the best commercial design in town, and the redone emergency room triage center at Sarasota Memorial Hospital is no exception. From additions the patient sees—bright colors, warm finishes, creative lighting—to those he doesn’t (like the new pneumatic tube station that allows staff to transfer paperwork and blood samples without having to leave the triage area), the goal was to create a less stressful environment for those awaiting medical care. We think it’s neat that the design team worked with local organizations—Mote Mote Aquarium for the hypnotic new 850-gallon saltwater aquarium, Florida West Coast Symphony for the piped-in music. It’s a community hospital, after all.


Project Architect: The ADP Group, Robert Town; Bruce E. Franklin, planning

Contractor: Kraft Construction

The 15-story, 106-unit Rivo at Ringling, downtown Sarasota’s newest upscale condominium tower, presents a striking change for the corner of Ringling Boulevard and Osprey Avenue, and it’s pretty dramatic from the outside, too, with its curved terraces and porthole windows. But the interior takes drama to new heights with a soaring central atrium that brings the outside in. The outbuildings, set to contain a bank and offices and still under construction at press time, echo the main building’s soft geometrics nicely with their rounded shapes. The entire effect is vaguely nautical—and very nice.


Project Architect: The ADP Group, James M. Dickason; Sarah W Colandro, interior design

Contractor: Queastar, Inc.

You want to sell ultra-luxury real estate, you’ve got to look the part; and when Premier Properties, one of Southwest Florida’s leading real estate companies, made its Sarasota debut, it did so with a splashy new suite of offices at The Plaza at Five Points. The design team combined two sets of existing offices, one 2,000 square feet and the other 1,489 square feet, and added elegant coffered ceilings to the 17-foot-tall space, a granite reception desk, warm cherry wood storage units and the latest audio-visual technology. The effect: a traditional company that’s ready for the future.


Project Architect: The ADP Group

Contractor: Ridgeland Construction

Twenty-something years ago, Horse Feathers was downtown Sarasota’s “it” after-five gathering spot, and the name has been resurrected with a bolder, brighter design in a new location, the former Silver Cricket restaurant on Ringling Boulevard. The ADP Group doubled the capacity of the already generous bar to 100 seats (including a 35-seat horseshoe bar), and created more intimate booth seating and outdoor seating. To top it off, it added custom wine storage lockers in the main lobby for patrons who want to bring their own special vintages. Cheers!

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