Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Soon, a Home for Art

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Soon, a Home for Art

Article excerpt

With fundraising goal reached, work to transform old high school begins

It doesn't look like much yet -- a chain-link fence around the perimeter of the historic Sarasota High School building, an inconspicuous construction trailer tucked next to the north wall of the building -- but work is underway to convert the 1926 Collegiate Gothic building into the Sarasota Museum of Art.

After nearly a decade of fundraising reached (and surpassed) its goal of $22 million in May, structural preservationists conducted a thorough investigation of "every nook and cranny" of the building's interior, said Wendy Surkis, SMOA president. Now, work begins on the exterior, to ensure the integrity of the building's "envelope" and to add a glass atrium to the east side of the three-story structure. Interior renovations will follow, with work to be completed in early 2016.

"We're making the building weatherproof," said Surkis. "This is really the primary goal and purpose. The 'envelope' has to be really secure before we can start the work on the inside."

Exterior work includes replacing all the windows -- of which there are dozens -- tuckpointing all the brick and replacing the roof.

"We are keeping the architectural integrity of the building, so it's just going to look much nicer," said Surkis. "But all of that detail work, that takes time. We anticipate that the exterior work could take up to five or six months, then once that is completed, we will go inside the building to do all the interior work."

Don Lawson of Lawson Group Architects is the project designer; Willis Smith Construction is handling the project. The museum is owned by the Ringling College of Art and Design.

Interior renovation will include transforming the second floor classrooms into a museum of contemporary art with traveling and temporary exhibitions. The first floor will include gallery and studio space, an auditorium and cafe; the third floor will be art classrooms. …

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