Summertime … and the livin is easy. Feel that little summerbreeze and enjoy a moment at the Florida Beach. This 1947 sketch of a Florida guest house would have been a magnificent Modernist vacation home for you.
Paul Rudoplh’s “Bauhaus on the Beach” style
While Palm Springs and Los Angeles get all the attention from Midcentury architecture fans, there’s a case to be made that Sarasota, Florida, belongs in that list of warm-weather meccas that served as testing grounds for the style, due in large part to the work of Paul Rudolph. The Kentucky-born architect, who would study at Auburn and then the Harvard School of Design under Walter Gropius, developed his own style of airy, lightweight, “Bauhaus on the Beach” homes along the Florida coast, first working as a partner of Ralph Twitchell, then as head of his own firm. Boxy residences with wide overhangs and flat roofs, these designs, such as the Walker Guest House, cut a clean profile amid their sandy surroundings, utilising plastic and plywood in ways Rudolph picked up while building for the Navy during WWII.
The Walker Guest House style
This unbuilt model, a guest house meant for Siesta Keys, Florida, that was designed in 1947, features signature flourishes from Rudolph’s post-war work, such as a raised steel frame and a simple, streamlined facade.
Drawn up with Twitchell for Roberta Healy Finney, Twitchell’s fiance, the design appears to anticipate many of the partnership’s later successes, including the Cocoon House, another project for Finney that would earn the pair of designers widespread attention from the press. It’s also the first Rudolph project to utilize hinged overhang panels, which would be utilized to great effect on the Walker Guest House. Meant to be constructed of wood and glass, the raised home also appears to anticipate the glass box designs that would be realized by contemporaries such as Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe.
In describing the project, Rudolph took a suitably modern tone, suggesting “the kitchen is designed as a linear movement system, like ‘an assembly line, culminating in a built-in dining table.”