Task force to soon pick architect for new Sarasota performing arts center

10 Tampa Bay WTSP photo of the Van Wezel Hall.

Originally published by 10 Tampa Bay WTSP.

SARASOTA, Fla. — After the first of the year, a group of people in Sarasota are going to start narrowing down a list of architects to come up with a plan to replace the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.

The current building is deteriorating because of its proximity to the water and its elevation. While some groups working on redevelopment projects here in the bay area have called for designs, this group is looking for qualified candidates first.

A firm called the Paratus Group is helping the task force figure out how to come up with the right people for the job. The president says museums and performance halls have some of the same design challenges.

“If you listened only to curators, there would be no daylight, and there’d be locked doors. And like, if you want to really protect the art, it’s not welcoming. It’s not,” Andy Klemmer said. “So you really need to be able to balance the two things. And a performance hall is a big opaque box. Usually – not always – but, usually. So, you know, just weighing the perfect acoustics with the fact that you’re looking at the ocean, like, you know, somebody has to struggle with that. And you have to do that the program is easier.”

He gave an example from Connecticut where he says they got it right, building with all glass in the middle of a field. People play music and movies inside, and you can see deer in the field outside.

“The task force was selected from board members; people who are willing to spend the time and the effort who were interested in architecture and who understood the cultural mission of this new entity, which is the combination of the foundation and, and the Van Wezel,” Klemmer said.

You can watch meetings about the future of the Sarasota Performing Arts Center on the city’s website.

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