Financing Grand Visions: Rudolph’s Riverview High School – Demolished June 2009

Above competition winner: RMJM with Diane Lewis Architects and Beckelman + Capalino, LLC in association with Seibert Architects

Paul Rudolph’s famed Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida has now been demolished to make room for a parking lot. The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) won a reprieve in 2008 from the School District to find a viable design and financial alternative that met the School District’s objectives and preserved this significant modernist work. While the competition yielded great ideas from well-known talent, it was not enough. Rudolph’s Riverview High School was demolished in June 2009 – images may be seen on the Save Riverview blog.

The result reveals the importance of financing large-scale visions during their creation. As threatened buildings are already in the cross-hairs with other plans on hold, the final demo decisions often rest on a comprehensive shovel-ready package. Financing is not always found for the whole vision, and so we end up back where we started: the all-or-nothing proposition. Perhaps we should allow for multiple tiers of a vision to match the financing in degrees of preservation.