Origami, waves in the ocean, a newspaper unfolding, or paper moving through a printing press: however you describe it, the form of downtown Sarasota's newest landmark has the locals pondering architecture. Charged by the publisher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the city's main news organization, to design a building that celebrates the region's mid-century modern heritage, Miami-based Arquitectonica translated 1950s precedents into state-of-the-art, 21st-century editorial offices and broadcasting studios.
One of the first decisions the architects made was to raise the bulk of the building above the ground plane. Historically, buildings in this storm-prone region were hoisted aloft for climatic reasons. In this instance, it maximizes the use of the property, providing ample employee parking under the building.
The majority of the program in this three-story, 71,250-square-foot building is apportioned to the upper two floors. A multimedia newsroom occupies most of the third level. Workstations are situated along the window wall to maximize the daylight, and an undulating ceiling (the underside of the creased roof-line) adds dimension and airiness to the space. An open plan suits the newspaper staff 's interdisciplinary structure, where teams form across departments. “It was very important in the new building to be able to maintain relationships between the departments, so that they are efficient,” says Alfonso Jurado, project architect for Arquitectonica. Contributing to the openness of the plan is the fact that the building is supported on steel columns pulled away from its perimeter.
The white-painted columns rise as high as 54 feet and support generous roof overhangs that shield occupants from the strong rays of the Florida sun. “On the upper levels we have a clerestory, and because of the peaks and valleys of the roof, we couldn't take the shades all the way up to the ceiling,” Jurado says. “To make up for that, we extended the overhang to block the sun from coming in through that part of the glass.”
Glass is a low-E glazed, impact-resistant curtain-wall system, rated for 120 miles-per-hour hurricane-force winds. Tinted in shades of green and blue, the glass maximizes natural light coming into the building while restricting heat gain. Roll-down shades are tied to a central monitoring system with sensors throughout the building to balance glare from the sun with daylight and outside views.
In Florida, where tropical summer storms bring several inches of rain, sometimes in less than an hour, managing runoff is a priority. This client wanted a different solution than a retention pond. “When [the retention pond] is not filled, it just becomes an unsightly pit with vegetation growing out of it,” Jurado explains. “[The client] did not want to give up the land to it either, because it meant we would have had to lose parking.” Instead, water is directed from the building through internal drains located in the columns on the western facade. The water is diverted underneath the driveway to an underground vault, where it is treated before being discharged into the city's storm-water system.
Similarly hidden from view, another innovative strategy in the headquarters' design is the air flow. A raised floor throughout the building houses all of the cabling and power, plus serves as a pressurized air-filled cavity for the HVAC system. “The air-handling unit pipes the air under the floor at a slightly lower temperature than it would if it were being distributed overhead, and equates to a savings in energy costs because you don't have to cool the air as much,” explains Jurado. Air quality is improved because the return air is located at the ceiling, so rising air doesn't mix with the supply air. Employees at each workstation have a register in the floor to control the amount of air coming into their spaces. “We were trying to make the building efficient and comfortable for the occupants,” Jurado says.
The most distinctive feature of the building, the undulating roof, is made of Galvalume aluminum set over insulation and a metal deck. “It's open to interpretation,” Jurado says of the roof's form. “The important thing is that it gets people thinking.”