2018 local AIA design awards

Architectural honors provide a snapshot of the state of the art

Architecture stands as a chronicle of a community’s regard for itself through design.

The latest set of design awards presented by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects reflects the increasing sophistication of Sarasota’s architects and their clients.

It also represents a changing of the guard, as a new wave of maturing firms steps forward to prominence — primarily, Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture and Sweet Sparkman Architects.

With nine awards between them, those firms dominated the Design Awards that were presented at the Hyatt Regency on June 5 during the AIA’s Sarasota Architecture Week.

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Halflants + Pichette is not your typical design firm. It designs buildings, yes. But it also builds them, with partner John Pichette handling that part of the business.

Meanwhile, Michael Halflants heads the design team and also teaches architecture at the University of South Florida.

Despite that workload, the firm hauled in five awards in the 2018 Design Awards competition held by the Florida Gulf Coast chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Halflants + Pichette took two Honor Awards and three Merit Awards.

Sweet Sparkman Architects of Sarasota won four awards — one Honor and three Merits.

According to the AIA, Honor Awards “recognize projects that demonstrate the highest standards of design and innovation and a commitment to excellence in architectural design.

“Merit Awards recognize projects that demonstrate a commitment to excellence in architectural design.”

Other winners for local projects were Solstice Planning & Architecture of Sarasota, Architects Lewis + Whitlock of Tallahassee and Shepley Bulfinch of Boston. The awards were for projects that were essentially complete by the April 2018 entry deadline. (Sweet Sparkman will submit the Richard and Barbara Basch Center for Visual Arts at Ringling College for awards next year.)

“Our chapter is proud to include, among its many talented architects, two firms that gained the clear majority of the awards,” said Julian Norman-Webb, president of the local AIA chapter. “The work of Sweet Sparkman Architects and Halflants + Pichette is helping to consolidate, and further build, Sarasota’s rich architectural legacy.”

The winning projects, including category and firm:


• Siesta Condo Renovation; interiors; Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture. This was a complete renovation of an apartment in The Terrace condominium, which was designed by Frank Folsom Smith, FAIA, and built in 1970. The effect is a clean aesthetic that does not compete with, but rather complements the dramatic beach views.

• Phillippi Creek Residence; new work-residential; Halflants + Pichette Studio for Modern Architecture. On a riverfront, triangular lot, the house is designed for outdoor living. The living-room wing, bedroom wing and detached garage form a private courtyard around the pool. The living room has long waterfront views. A west-facing balcony over the entrance permits sunset views.

• Kotler-Coville Glass Pavilion; renovations and additions; Architects Lewis + Whitlock. The building, housing a collection of art glass, was added to the east side of the Visitors Center at The Ringling, and faces Bay Shore Road. A stand-out feature is the array of vertical “fins” that help control the amount of sunlight entering the east-facing glass façade.

• Alfred R. Goldstein Library; new work-commercial; Shepley Bulfinch. The Boston architecture firm was assisted by Sweet Sparkman Architecture, which provided expertise in navigating local building regulations. The landmark library has multiple indoor and outdoor gathering and study spaces for students, opens to Whitaker Bayou, and pays homage to Paul Rudolph’s 1953 Umbrella House with its shading structures.

• Sarasota County Fire Stations Nos. 12, 14, 16 and 17; sustainable design; Sweet Sparkman Architects. The LEED-certified buildings are built with low-maintenance materials “to last a long time,” said architect Todd Sweet. “We are designing buildings that will withstand (160 mph) hurricane-force winds, so there is a cost associated with that as well. Personally, I don’t think the buildings are extravagant. They are attractive and practical.”


• Art Center Manatee; unbuilt; Halflants + Pichette SMA. This proposed building would create open civic space on the ground floor that is sheltered by the art studios above. An opening on a far corner of the site connects to Bradenton’s Riverwalk. The plan also calls for a public park with shaded seating.

• St. Armands Public Restrooms; unbuilt; Solstice Planning & Architecture. Architect Jonathan Parks has created a neo-modern concept that echoes Victor Lundy’s 1959 Galloway’s Furniture building in that a palm tree extends through a circular opening in the roof. The plan, with structures on a median near St. Armands Circle, would promote pedestrian travel from shops on one side of the street to the other. “We addressed this opportunity by separating the two bathroom units to create public space in between,” said the architect. “Large public sidewalks flow through these spaces connecting the sidewalks on both sides of the medians. … A single piece of white precast concrete spans across both restroom units and the adjacent paths to provide shade.”

• Anna Maria Residence; new work-residential; Halflants + Pichette SMA. This unique house’s elevated pool, its exterior decorated with stone veneer, has a window in its shell. The third-floor master bedroom juts out from the body of the structure to shade the pool deck and provide Gulf views.

• Venice Residence; new work-residential; Halflants + Pichette SMA. On a 50-foot-wide site, this house’s view of the Gulf of Mexico is blocked by a house, but the design “takes advantage of two view corridors through the setbacks of neighboring lots,” according to the firm’s website. “The living room looks through a gap on to the northwest, while the kitchen enjoys the southwest view corridor. These views correspond respectively to the summer and winter sunsets.” Two wings are connected by a courtyard. “The elevated wing spans over the small yard, creating a shaded space between the courtyard and the beach access. The concrete wall extends from the entry stoop to the top of the stairs.”

• Strandhus II; renovations and additions; Sweet Sparkman Architects. Strandhus I was completed in 2012 as the remodeling of a nondescript, 1950s-vintage house on the non-waterfront side of Westway Drive in Lido Shores. The owners later bought a wooden Sarasota School of architecture house next door and demolished it, bringing back Sweet Sparkman to create a dramatic addition that contains a new master suite.

• Siesta Key New Public Pavilion East Concessions; new work-commercial; Sweet Sparkman Architects. During the recent redevelopment of Siesta Public Beach, Sweet Sparkman restored the 1960 pavilion and added new buildings on the west and east sides of the campus for concessions and other functions. Landscape architecture, by Bill Waddill of Kimley Horn, was a key to the success of the project, said architect Jerry Sparkman. The new east pavilion, being brand-new construction, had to be elevated above potential storm-surge level.

• Fruitville Elementary School Classroom Addition; new work-commercial; Sweet Sparkman Architects. In 2017, architect Todd Sweet told the Herald-Tribune that the school district preferred brick as an exterior cladding because of its durability. His team worked to make it an art element and not just a shell. “Many brick buildings are traditional in appearance,” Sweet said. “At Fruitville, we wanted to use this material, but in more of a contemporary fashion.”

Chapter awards

The local AIA chapter presented these non-design awards:

• Champion of Architecture, to the Sarasota Architectural Foundation for promoting awareness of architecture in the community. SAF was founded 15 years ago and has held hundreds of events, including the annual Sarasota MOD Weekend, and built the Walker Guest House Replica, to educate the public about good design.

• Builder of the Year, to Josh Wynne Construction. From designing and building his own houses for clients a decade ago, Wynne has worked increasingly with architects in recent years, building structures that are both design-award winners and record-setters for LEED and other sustainability standards.

• Medal of Honor, to Dale Parks, AIA, for voluntary service to the chapter and furthering the cause of preservation in the community. “The winner of this award is someone who has tirelessly volunteered his time and talent for the betterment of our community and profession through his service to both AIA Florida and our chapter, through his many years spent on City of Sarasota advisory boards, and through his AIA design awards,” wrote the AIA jury.

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