Commercial Designs of Distinction

By Hannah Wallace September 30, 2008

The markets are down, but creativity is high among area architects who submitted entries in our fifth annual Commercial Designs of Distinction competition. Particularly strong this year is a trio of contemporary new office buildings—one in downtown Sarasota, another in Lakewood Ranch and a third on the mishmash that is Bee Ridge Road. Their pared-down elegance (nary a Med Rev element among them) suits these less-is-more times. (All projects were completed after Jan. 1, 2007.) 


Project Architect and Interior Design: Fawley Bryant Architects

Contractor: Tandem Construction

Like the prow of an ocean-liner gliding into the future, the jaunty sharp angles, bright white exterior finish and dramatic blue-tinted, two-story glass curtain walls of the Energy Court Center in Lakewood Ranch bring a dose of optimism and, yes, energy to a prominent corner lot on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. Inside, a three-story open atrium has balconies with stainless-steel railings and maple wall panels, also reminiscent of a cruise ship. Fawley Bryant, Tandem and Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty own and occupy part of the 30,660-square-foot center; they’re looking for a few more tenants to “book passage.”


Project Architect: Skirball Group, Inc.: Philip Skirball, architect; James Piatchuk, project manager

Contractor: Southern Cross Contracting

Cleaning up the commercial clutter on busy
Bee Ridge Road
is a vital goal, and this handsome office building does its part with crisp, white lines and modernist architecture that emphasizes natural light via a glass wall facing streetside to the north. Energy conservation is achieved through protective concrete “eyebrow” sunshades and metallic coating on the glass that is estimated to allow 75 percent of the natural light to enter but keeps most of the radiant energy out. Eight tenants can be accommodated in the 14,000-square-foot building; the building creates additional interest by stepping in and out at the lines dividing these tenant spaces. Good job.


Project Architect: Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture

Contractor: Finergy Group

A bright pop of orange punctuates this five-story, contemporary building—the exact color of the logo of the developer, Finergy Group, which will use half the top floor of the 15,000-square-foot building and lease out the rest as office and retail space. The orange entryway at street level and orange boxed-shaped accent above delineates the French-based owners’ suite and adds depth to the elevation, bringing a certain je ne sais quoi to this formerly sedate stretch of Main Street east of U.S. 301.


Project Architect: The ADP Group; Robert M. Town, architect; James M. Dickason, project manager

Contractor: Halfacre Construction Company

How to bring human scale to 120,000 square feet of temperature-controlled warehouse and 50,000 additional square feet of corporate offices and hospitality space for the nation’s 46th largest Anheuser Busch distributorship? The architects ingeniously applied towers, columns and stonework in a Southern European-influenced design that reminds one, not of a plain metal warehouse, but of a northern California winery. Everything about the project is mammoth, from the $19.5 million budget to the 46 million pounds of concrete used in construction, and the building is so solidly built that the owner has offered it as staging space for emergency personnel should a natural disaster occur. On a more cheerful note, nonprofits are invited to use its community meeting space, tasting room and garden for free. 


Project Architects: Jonathan Parks Architect, Steve Carlin, AAIA, lead designer, and Timothy Del Vescovo, AAIA, ASID, designer

Contractors: Casto Lifestyle Properties (T. Georgiano’s)

Upping downtown Sarasota's sophistication factor is the interior of T. Georgiano's, a luxury boutique on First Street, where an interplay of luxe finishes and sculptural geometric forms draws buyers into the narrow space.


Project Architect: Hoyt Architects

Contractor: Ernie Ritz

It’s been a pivotal year for downtown Sarasota retail, thanks largely to the opening of Sur la Table and Brooks Brothers, both part of the new

Pineapple Square
mixed-use development. They’re national chains, but cookie-cutter these buildings aren’t. The Brooks Brothers store, in a historic building that formerly held a Burger King, has transom windows, awnings and glass walls; Sur la Table’s big window-walls flood the two-story volume with light and make shopping for upscale housewares an adventure.


Project Architect: Lawson Group Architects

Contractor: Manasota Commercial Construction

After over three decades at the same location on
Manatee Avenue West
, the Manatee Association of Realtors followed the growth to Lakewood Ranch with its new 16,500-square-foot headquarters along the northern end of
Lakewood Ranch Boulevard
. Encompassed within it are conference, education and training facilities equipped with state-of-the-art technology for the association’s 1,500 members. The futuristic feel of the campus, which consists of two buildings connected by a courtyard, is achieved through dramatic arched metal roofs supported by stone veneered columns and pilasters.


Project Architects: Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum and Fawley Bryant Architects

Contractor: (Nicole wcb)

The challenge—designing a new Manatee County judicial center for the 21st century while at the same time paying tribute to the existing, adjacent 1913 historic courthouse—was met successfully by the use of complementary materials and colors. The enormous nine-story, 268,000-square-foot new building connects to the existing jail and sheriff’s office building through a two-story glass vestibule, which reflects the stately white columns of the old courthouse that sits across a newly created brick-paver pedestrian mall—literally mirroring the old and new. The historic brick courthouse is reflected metaphorically, too, in the complementary earth-toned colors of the new judicial center.

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