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Requiem for Riverview

Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida, an icon of Modern design by Paul Rudolph, succumbed to the wrecking ball this month following a multiyear fight to save it. In 2008 WMF, supported by Knoll, launched an international competition for an adaptive reuse plan for the building. The winning design would have turned the 1957 Modern gem into an arts center called the “Riverview Music Quadrangle.” However, the Sarasota school board rejected this feasible alternative in June 2008, voting 3-2 to move ahead with the demolition of the structure and build a parking lot on the site. Following this decision, WMF started a petition to tell the school board that demolishing this iconic building was a terrible waste. Below are a few excerpts from comments by some of the 5,700 people who signed the petition:

“Will anyone looking back at architectural history be more impressed by a parking lot, or a respectfully preserved and reused building? In time, will an empty parking lot be more valuable than a building by a renowned architect? Not likely.”

“The spirit and energy and ideas of an entire age in civilization are expressed by architecture just as much as in art or fashion. Modernism is so exemplary of what America was thinking and how it was acting during that era. The works of master architects should be preserved.”

One can only question the logic behind razing a masterpiece to make room for a parking lot.

The 20th [century] is an extremely important era in North American architecture, and it's really too soon to be demolishing it.

“Important new architecture becomes important old architecture.”

“As an architecture professor and having graduated from the University of Florida, it is disappointing that I will not be able to visit the school, nor have students visit this icon ever again.”