Modernist architecture, with its ample glass walls and flow of inside–outside space, seems made for warm weather, and few post–World War II architects have explored the possibilities of a mild climate more than Victor Lundy, FAIA. His Warm Mineral Springs Motel near Venice, Fla., cited in the 1958 P/A Awards program, blurs the boundaries between interior and exterior to an extent rarely seen before.
The U-shaped motel has a series of single-loaded rooms, entered from perimeter parking and overlooking a lushly planted courtyard. Above the rooms stand 14-foot-square, precast-concrete hyperbolic-paraboloid roofs that alternate in height. As originally constructed according to Lundy’s design, Plexiglas clerestories made the roofs appear to float, especially at night, with their undersides illuminated from within. “Designed to stop traffic,” Lundy said, the inverted roofs evoked the “fountain of youth” of the nearby warm mineral springs.
Lundy used the different-height roofs to define various functions in each suite: lower ceilings above the entrance, beds, and dining area, and higher ceilings above the bathroom, sitting area, and kitchenette. Sliding glass doors connect each room to the courtyard, with vertically stacked concrete bricks, originally painted charcoal gray, enclosing the rooms. A suspended air-conditioner in each room dripped condensate into an interior planter bed, further blurring the distinction between inside and out.
Solid panels have since replaced the Plexiglas, through-the-wall air conditioners now cool the rooms, and the once-gray walls are white. But the inventiveness of Lundy’s motel still stops traffic, designed as it was by one of America’s most underappreciated postwar architects.
1958 P/A Awards Jury
I.M. Pei, FAIA