Architects show up in big numbers vying to design Sarasota’s new performing arts center

The Bay Park Conservancy Conceptual Masterplan — Approved by the Sarasota City Commission in September 2018.

From the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

More than 40 architectural firms have submitted applications to design the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center.

The city of Sarasota and the Van Wezel Foundation said 43 respondents had provided their qualifications for the project. The respondents included several world renowned firms and an architect selection task force — which was made of up four “distinguished community members,” according to a release — narrowed it down to 18 candidates.

“As a once-in-a-generation project, these applicants represent the best of the best firms from around the world, having designed some of the most world-renowned institutions across the globe,” Sarasota City Manager Marlon Brown said in a release. “This remarkable response shows how highly the world views Sarasota’s arts and culture as we look to continue to build upon our future as a cherished destination.”

There will be six public meetings for the architect selection process. Those will be narrowed down to approximately four-to-six finalists. The finalists will then come to Sarasota to present their qualifications to the community.

This transformative project began after the Sarasota city commission approved the Bayfront master plan with a new performing arts center at the heart of The Bay Park in 2018.

The Van Wezel Foundation has invested “more than $3 million in private funding to bring global expertise in advanced marine engineering, theater design, coastal resiliency, and feasibility studies to the project,” according to the foundation’s website. The new center will be further from the water’s edge, on higher ground, and will use advanced engineering to address the site’s challenges.

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall — owned by the city — is “environmentally endangered” and cannot be renovated as a contemporary state-of-the-art performing arts center. Parts of the building are below the floodplain and damage due to water, and salt is steadily increasing annual repair and remediation costs.

As for the future of the existing hall, a panel of experts will soon be seated by city commission to make recommendations on viable options for the building.

“With the submission of qualifications from these accomplished firms, we now continue the robust review process that moves us closer to the vision of Sarasota as an international destination for the arts,” Cheryl Mendelson, CEO of the Van Wezel Foundation, said in a release. “This isn’t just a building. Together, we are building a place for ideas, a place for the arts, a place for you.”

The 18 firms invited to submit proposals for the design of a new performing arts center are:

Adjaye Associates
Diamond Schmitt
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Foster + Partners Limited
Gehry Partners LLP
Henning Larsen
Pelli Clarke & Partners
Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Rex Architecture P.C.
Safdie Architects
Sanaa Jimusho Ltd.
Shigeru Ban Architects
Steven Holl Architects
Studio Gang
Studios Architecture
Zaha Hadid Limited

Breanne Williams
Tampa Bay Business Journal

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