The Cool Factor

By Richard Storm September 30, 2010

Given the stress on the local economy, we might expect to find a decline in the number of significant new commercial buildings on our skyline. But within the last several months, five attention-grabbing buildings rose out of the ground, proof that strong architectural design is still enriching the local landscape.



Sarasota Yacht Club

Project Architects: Tom Denslow and Mark Sultana, DSDG

Contractor: Tandem Construction

Taking its inspiration, appropriately, from a luxury yacht, the Sarasota Yacht Club’s new facility on Sarasota Bay has arrived in great style, complete with a soaring, sail-like roof and vibrant with light and views of downtown Sarasota and the nearby islands. According to DSDG architect Tom Denslow, “The clubhouse is an example of contemporary design that reinforces the club’s connection to sailing.” The dramatic entrance sends visitors through a soaring lobby that culminates in a direct view of the marina’s main dock and expresses sailing traditions in its wood inlay floor and nautical symbols. Built to withstand 130-mph winds, the building incorporates plentiful skylights, recycled materials and highly efficient air conditioning. 


Cancer Support Community—Southwest Florida (formerly The Wellness Community)

Project Architect: Michael Carlson, Carlson Studio Architecture

Contractors/Engineers: Wilson Miller Engineering, Stewart Engineering and Willis A. Smith Construction

The intriguing arched design of the Cancer Support Community facilities in Lakewood Ranch reflects the conviction that place matters in the treatment of health issues, especially one as disruptive as cancer. The complex, which was recently completed on a leafy five-acre campus, is conceived and executed as a worldwide model of a healing environment, one in which healthful materials, natural light, environmentally sound construction and natural surroundings combine to support people whose immune systems have often been compromised. Green technology, has been applied to the art studios, Internet cafe, teaching kitchen, meditation spaces and labyrinth garden, making the building eligible for Gold LEED certification. These facilities, provided to patients and their families free of charge, are intended to set the standard for others in a network of 50 local affiliates and 100 satellite locations. 


Hampton Inn And Suites

Architect/Developer: Eric Collin, Finergy Development

The bold geometry of the Hampton Inn and Suites near the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport—a cubic shape broken up and lightened by blocks of gray and white—declares that this is a structure suited to the expectations of the modern traveler. The hotel’s interior, similarly bold in its layout and colors, expresses creative efficiency while providing spaces for quiet reflection before a busy day of business and travel. This is a LEED (Silver) certified building and the first LEED-certified hotel built by Hampton Inns nationwide, meaning it meets standards of energy and water saving, as well as using biodegradable products for cleaning and incorporating solar water heating and other eco-innovations. Travelers today demand such features, says Eric Collin, executive vice president of developer Finergy. 


Sarasota County Fire Station No. 1

Project Architect: Todd Sweet, Totems Architecture

Contractor: Deangelis Diamond Construction

The new fire station in the Rosemary District administers a nice jolt of surprise to the passer-by, a bit of nostalgia tempered with a modern twist. Though this part of town has several older brick buildings, it has been a long time since we have seen a new brick building here, and it is a welcome addition. Something about exposed brick evokes memories of the neighborhood fire station “back home,” a reassuring sense of security. So much for nostalgia—the fire station also incorporates exposed aluminum, exposed steel framing and industrial-strength wooden slats on the water tower. And, although this is not a small structure, it feels friendly, a place where young people could gather to meet the firemen and admire their trucks parked on the driveway or seen through the massive doors, ready to protect us at a moment’s notice. 


Sarasota Police Department Headquarters

Project Architect: Ian Reeves, Architects Design Group

Contractor: Kraft Construction

A police headquarters has to be secure, safe and dependable all day, every day of its life. For the new headquarters of the Sarasota Police Department to be all that and strikingly handsome to boot is a real achievement. The ADG design, a boldly modern structure, vastly different from any surrounding building, practically shouts safety and innovation, incorporating large expanses of secure glass with strong overhangs and angular support elements. This is the only building in the city designed to resist the winds of a Category 5 hurricane, an essential element if vital city records are to be kept safe during a natural disaster. This is another LEED design, incorporating environmental safeguards and energy efficiency while providing the latest in technology. It must have been a temptation for city officials to settle for a more conventional and possibly less costly building. To have done so would have deprived the city of a true modern landmark. ■

Richard Storm, a frequent contributor to regional newspapers and magazines, has won a number of awards from the South Florida Society of Professional Journalists for his architectural criticism in Sarasota Magazine. 

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