Specializing in exclusive waterfront homes and flood-zone architecture in the communities surrounding Sarasota and Bradenton including the barrier islands Longboat Key, Siesta Key and Anna Maria Island since 1997.
Anthea, Chelsea and I made our August pilgrimage to Fallingwater. Neither of the girls had been there before, but I had often spoken to them about it over the years.When we decided to go, one of them asked me what was so special about Fallingwater, and I replied, "It's the freaking Mona Lisa".
When we arrived at the visitor center, we had to wait an hour and a half for our tour to begin, so we wandered down the trails to the location overlooking the stream from which one can see the very famous view that has been photographed so many countless of times. At first when we got to that location, we three stood mesmerized by the sublime beauty of the building and it's setting. Only after a while were we able to actually take a few pictures, so astonishingly beautiful was the sight.
In may ways, while one can certainly appreciate the building through the countless photographs, standing there looking at it with one's own eyes is a considerably more profound experience. I am quite certain that this applies as well to other great works of human cultural endeavor, such as the Taj Mahal or the Egyptian Pyramids....or Michelangelo's Pieta or Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
I have no doubt that Frank Lloyd Wright will stand side by side with the great artists of humankind's cultural history, including the esteemed Renaissance artists. In the 20th century, maybe only Pablo Picasso also attained such heights.
Within walking distance of each other in Tampa are some fabulous architectural gems well worth exploring. As an architect, I often find myself criticizing buildings, and all to often negatively. I do believe, however, that artistic criticism is a core tenet for artistic evaluation and improvement. As a student 30 years ago in architectural school, all of our projects were evaluated by "juries", often times consisting of visiting critics, professors from other departments or other universities. Good buildings have a clarity of concept, an efficient functional layout, they are comfortable in their context, they are carefully detailed and they evoke emotion in us. The following are some really good buildings.
The University of Tampa's Plant Hall is a local landmark and has been since its construction in 1891. It is in beautiful functional condition and a joy to explore. There is a tremendous amount of history surrounding this Moorish Revival building and it is well worth the effort to seek it out. The building's brickwork, the woodwork of the porches and the metal minarets are elegantly resolved and it is very difficult to find inconsistencies in their detailing. The surrounding grounds consisting of tropical gardens are also gorgeous.
Also on U of T's campus is the newly completed Sykes Chapel, a particularly profound little building designed by TVSDESIGN. As a modern architectural statement, it harmoniously captures the concept of "praying hands" in a red brick and curved metal roofing recalling the materials used in Plant Hall just a few short steps away. Again, I emphasize the clarity of concept, contextualism and exquisite detailing.
Just across the river from the University of Tampa, is the Tampa Museum of Art, a minimalist glass and metal building designed by architect Stanley Saitowitz. This building certainly makes a bold structural statement poised on the edge of Curtis Hixon Park, and creates a very strong "sense of place", another characteristic of good architectural design.
Directly across the park from the new museum is the Sykes Building, another local landmark. It is basically a cylindrical sky scraper with a cube attached at the ground level. It's too easy to dismiss this building as another unfortunate modernist structure foisted on us in the recent past. I have studied this building carefully with a trained critical architectural eye and it is actually quite profound and a tremendous gem. It adheres to all of the criteria for good architecture, and once so recognized, it is an obvious masterpiece. Tampa is lucky to have it in their downtown.
These buildings are all within a short walk of each other, and actually, all but the Sykes Chapel can be appreciated at once from Curtis Hixon Park in a very dramatic manner.