Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interview with Max Strang, AIA

I recently had the opportunity to interviewed Max Strang, AIA of Miami, the Kick-off speaker for the 2008 EP Conference, where he discussed the relevance of the Sarasota School of Architecture (SSoA) movement and what it means to a new generation of architects.

Jedd Heap (JH): What is the relevance of the Sarasota School of Architecture to Today's Emerging Professionals?

Max Strang (MS): Some of the early SSoA work is especially relevant now as today's young architects need to focus on how buildings can better respond to their environment and use less energy. Sarasota School Architects had to design buildings prior to the widespread use of air-conditioning.

JH: What is the relevance specifically, for you?

MS: The work of the original SSoA has always been an architectural "touchstone" for me. I had the great experience of growing up in an original Gene Leedy home and being exposed to many of his other projects. I specifically remember being invited into Syd Solomon's Siesta Key residence at the age of twelve. It was a really bold and structurally expressive home. I consider myself a direct descendant of the SSoA movement. It's easy to find parallels in my own work.

JH: How can we learn from the movement?

MS: The Sarasota School movement was 'regional modernism' at its finest. It perfected timeless principles such as 'honesty of materials', 'clarity of structure' and attention to detail. These principles are essential to quality architecture.

JH: How important do you think it is to restore and save the historic Sarasota School buildings?

MS: It's extremely important to save these buildings, not because they're old, but because they are great examples of quality design. I hope that many can be "saved" so that they may continue to inspire another generation.

JH: How do you feel about the School Boards decision to demolish Paul Rudolph's Riverview HS?

MS: I'm simply appalled. It is ironic that the School Board, which provided so many opportunities for the Sarasota School Architects, is responsible for this shameful decision. Philip Hiss isn't smiling.


1 comment:

Jeremiah Russell said...

One of the most frustrating things for me, as an Architect, is the seemingly widespread destruction of our historic architectural heritage, but at the same time we put in place regulations and guidelines that prohibit modern/contemporary architectural expressions/styles. To me, this is the most ironic dichotomy seeing as these historic structures that we tear down only to erect a false copy in it's place is in direct conflict with the spirit of the building that was torn down. These "historic" buildings typically were designed in the modern/contemporary style of that time, and to force it's new neighbor, or replacement, to be just a copy is insulting to the statement that the original building was trying to make. Perhaps I look at this the wrong way, but as an Architect and Designer in the 21st Century it is more than a little frustrating to be forced into one architectural expression or another that more often than not has nothing to do with our modern/contemporary times. So, my question would be, how do we get out of this historic copy-cat rut?