Umbrella House is a Lido Key Landmark
Posted by Lido Key Real Estate on
Architectural Digest calls it “One of the five most remarkable houses of the mid-twentieth century.”
It’s the famous “Umbrella House” on Lido Key, at one time the most stunning example of the Sarasota School of Architecture, also known as “Sarasota Modern.” The Sarasota School emerged in southwest Florida after World War II and was hugely popular until the late 1960s, when air conditioning became virtually universal throughout the state. The Sarasota School was noteworthy for its focus on topography and climate. Shading, creative ventilation methods, oversized glass panes, and complete walls built of jalousie windows are typical elements in Sarasota School designs.
In 1953, 35-year-old architect Paul Rudolph was commissioned to create a 2,000-square-foot model home on Lido Key for a new housing development. With the Umbrella House, Rudolph experimented with the elements and potentials of architectural modernism. The house’s north and south walls are almost entirely jalousies, so that breezes from the Gulf of Mexico and Sarasota Bay cool the entire structure. The house and pool were initially shaded by a wooden trellis, “the Umbrella,” which was lost due to storms in the late 1970s. Rudolph would later become the dean of the Yale School of Architecture and achieve international fame for designing the Concourse office tower in Singapore and the Lippo Centre in Hong Kong. Architect Charles Gwathmey, overseeing the renovation of the Rudolph-designed Art and Architecture Building at Yale, said, “He was so far ahead of his time, experimenting with sun screens and cross-ventilation.”
In 2005, the Umbrella House was purchased by noted designers Vincent and Julie Ciulla. They have renovated and restored the Umbrella House interior, replaced the roof, and are working to achieve a complete restoration of the building. The pair recently hosted architects and historians from around the country on a tour organized by the Society of Architectural Historians. The Ciullas believe the simple, timeless qualities expressed by Rudolph and the Sarasota School can be blended with a 21st-century focus on sustainability, alternative energy, and technological innovation. More information and tours of the remarkable Umbrella House can be arranged through the Vincent Ciulla Design firm. The Umbrella House is located at 1300 Westway Drive on the north end of Lido Key, less than a block from the John Ringling Parkway.