Solstice Planning and Architecture
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Sarasota Bay is a significant surviving example of late mid-century architecture. The design was carried out by William Wesley Peters, Chief Architect of Taliesin Associated Architects. The iconic color was suggested by Frank Lloyd Wright's widow.
The building’s inspiration was "…the natural beauty of the site; the romance and majesty of the sea; and the infinitely varying organic structure of forms of life which have come to being in the Gulf."
Completed in 1969, the Hall has been continuously modified from its original state for 50 years, with many adaptations completed, and with varying degrees of success.
In 2015, our goal was to carefully preserve the building’s architectural heritage while adapting the public areas for the programmatic requirements of contemporary performance spaces. The scope included a renovation of the women's restroom, and replacement of carpeting throughout.
The original design was modified with a number of ill-advised changes, allowing the Hall to fall into a feeling of disrepair. Current management sought to change this perception and work closely with the design team in order to update the spaces while maintaining design purity.
By relying on Taliesin blueprints, photographs and correspondence with the original project manager, Anthony Puttnam, our team was able to distinguish between original and added elements.
The scope included meticulous attention to the architect’s design intent including finishes and lighting. Walls were repaired and hand-troweled to restore them to their original condition. Wall colors, bathrooms, signage, and floor finishes were updated extensively throughout the Hall.
A major focus of our research centered on design ideas for the carpeting throughout, inspired by the original shell patterns. The hexagonal pattern chosen is in keeping with the geometry of the building, and the varying tones allude to the shimmer of light seen on Sarasota Bay.