Paul Rudolph’s Riverview High School in Sarasota to be demolished.

Riverview High School Sarasota
Rudolph’s Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla. Built in 1958. (Photos by C-M.)

Sad news: The Sarasota, Fla. school board voted to demolish Paul Rudolph’s historic Riverview High School to make way for parking and ballfields, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports today. The decision was made largely because of a lack of funds needed to update the buildings to other uses. This ends a two year effort by preservationists to save the historic, Modernist high school. (See a view of the school in 1958 here.)

This is unfortunate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that as Rudolph’s smaller structures are razed, it leaves us with ever fewer examples of the architect’s graceful early works, which, in my mind, are far more intriguing than his later buildings, which are all about concrete-heavy brutalism.

After the jump, more pix of RHS I snapped when I trespassed all over Sarasota last summer to check out the city’s trove of Modernist buildings.

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Riverview High School Sarasota

Posted by C-Monster.

14 comments

  1. Daniel Bejar

    Crazy! I graduated from there, always loved the campus. But it doesn’t surprise me, anything in Sarasota with even a bit of historical relevance gets flattened for new hotels, retirement homes, resturant’s, big box stores, etc.. It’s really sad.

  2. Stephan

    Rudolph’s stuff always seems to be initially repulsive. I went to school at Umass: Dartmouth, where he designed most of the original campus. During the first two years you tended to agree with everyone that it was depressing, that the stairs were too short, that it was creepy. But the least two years you started to appreciate those short, halting steps, the shaded, overhanging concrete eaves…

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  5. Sally

    Amazing story… this was an interesting line to me:
    “The decision was made largely because of a lack of funds needed to update the buildings to other uses.”

    Really? The U.S. government seems to pride itself on how much money it has doled out for the last 40 years or so to schools and education, or so I read (I’m only in high school). Did the Riverview school not get any money? It has to be demolished because of no money? Sickening. Such is the way of the world these days I guess. Then again, I wish my high school would be torn down – I hate it and want to go to a different school.

  6. Chamie

    I agree it is definitely sad to see my school go but if only you alumni knew the condition it was in. Maintenance has blown out the window with the construction of the new school. There were green plants growing from pipes, rusted piping and rails, not to mention the locker rooms and bathrooms. I was surprised the spray paint was painted over on the last week of this school year. It is of course a shame to see such good architecture become a block-o-concrete school with completely internal hallways. I agree that some drastic repairs needed to made but they just don’t have the funding.

  7. class of 2011

    I am going to be a junior this year in the new building so I had 2 years experience in the old one. When I first went to riverview in the old building I wanted the new school to be finished so I could go there. At the beginning of last year I wish I could have finished in the old one. The new school is designed similar to a jail in that there is one door (group of doors) that everyone must pass through which will be guarded so nobody can leave, sounds good right? hey, its high school it’s not a home for the mentally insane. I feel that anyone who went to riverview and looked around a bit will truly miss the building. it was pretty harsh leaving school for a summer trip and coming back to a parking lot. The people who let this happen fall into a category created by my old great uncle “mentally castrated” But it’s too late now we’ll just have to remember the retro charm the old building had.
    - to grad RHS 2011

  8. C-Mon

    hey… thanks for the thoughtful comment! glad to hear from someone who attends the school… so sorry to hear it’s gone. best, c.

  9. JGoerke

    I was a transfer to riverview in my junior year (05 class) The layout was very open and sometimes I liked it and sometimes (rainy season) i was very unhappy with it. I went to the new one not too long ago and I does remind me of my old school in Brooklyn (very prison like) But the architecture is very visually appealing. I like the new building but I’m sure its very secure (to the point of being annoying to students as I can imagine). I hope to take a full tour of it in time.

  10. Alice

    I graduated from RHS in 1972. My most vivid memories of the campus are of the flooding of the 1st floor whenever it rained and how hot the rooms were in the spring and fall. But then I went to UF before the dorms were air conditioned. Still don’t like having wet shoes/feet or being hot — moved to Colorado where we are still having snow storms in mid-March.

  11. Dominique

    I went to Riverview High School and graduated 2 years ago, the last class in the old Paul Rudolph building. In the beginning I was all for them tearing down the building because it was such a mess, dirty and just falling apart. Then when I actually thought about the architecture and the fact that we were so lucky to have gone to school in such an architectural landmark, It really made me sad that they decided to destroy it. Paul Rudolph was ahead of his time and the fact that they completely destroyed one of his last pieces of art is so sad. All I have are pictures and memories of this astounding landmark.
    -class of 2008

  12. c-monster

    thanks for the thoughtful post, dominique! amazing to hear from folks who studied in that building!