Paul Rudolph's Walker Guest House to be reconstructed in Sarasota

Walker guest House
© Ezra Stoller via Ringling Museum of Art

Paul Rudolph houses are backhoe bait; Too small, too modern, too reliant on natural light and air, too dedicated to sea and sky to survive in the age of air conditioning. The Walker Guest House on Sanibel Island is one of the best examples of this. The 24 foot square cottage was built before there was a bridge to the island and everything had to be brought over by boat, so Paul Rudolph designed it to be as light as possible. It was so light and flimsy that when Dr. Walker stood on the roof it wobbled, and Rudoph said "we better add some more bracing!"

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I visited it on Sanibel Island in 2010 and was told by Elaine Walker, the owner, that it might be moved to Sarasota. Now Architizer says it is " being rebuilt as a newly-constructed replica on the grounds of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota." I am not quite sure what that means, but certainly they would have had trouble moving the house, it was very light and the materials have not stood the test of time. The drop-down shutters had absorbed so much moisture over the years that the iconic weights no longer counterbalanced them properly.

So many of Paul Rudolph's buildings have been lost in this era of monster homes and central air; So much credit should go to the Walkers for preserving this gem so that it can live on. See a slideshow of the house here.

Tags: Florida | Preservation