Outside meets inside seamlessly in architect Dale Parks’ Collins Residence, where glass features create an airiness that connects the structure to the exterior environment. The 2,900-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2½-bathroom home is located in an eclectic Sarasota neighborhood west of Tamiami Trail. The space is sun-filled, sleek and representative of Parks’ architectural inventiveness. 

PHOTOS OF THE COLLINS RESIDENCE BY WAYNE EASTEP, COURTESY OF DALE PARKS.

“The materials were fairly modest on this project, as we were working on a tight budget,” says Parks. “The majority of the building materials were concrete and stucco, with the focal point being the glass box dining room that appears to float above the ground. Large sliding glass doors retract and serve to connect the backyard area with the interior living spaces.” The main living level is located at base flood elevation, providing for an open-plan concept that accommodates all of the living spaces. It is flanked by a large porch overlooking the swimming pool, front porch and entry stairs. It is also stitched together with the lower garage/ground level and the upper bedroom areas by a central light-filled space with all-vertical circulation. “The home office tops the space off; it is designed with no enclosing walls and it occupies a space in the naturally lit second level. The residence was designed to accentuate the difference between the heavy massing of the bedroom/garage wing and the lightness of the living level; the glass pavilion of the dining room practically floats in its appearance,” Parks says. “It was the client’s wish that the interior spaces and the site would, at times, appear as one. I wanted the house to be light and airy and open to the outside—minimal but not austere.”

The south and east sides of the home’s 14-foot-square dining pavilion are made of nearly one-inch-thick glass, and there are three-foot-wide glass sunshades. The office is also glass and has a built-in desk, which overlooks the window wall area. Every translucent facet is worked into the layout to bring in sunlight and invigorate the interior.

“One of the most obvious elements of this project is the glass box that the dining room is located in on the front of the residence. The volume is made up of glass surfaces, shaded by a frosted glass sunshade above,” Parks says. “The design intent was to convey the lightness of this structure, juxtaposed with the heavier masses of the residence that comprise the garage on the lower level and the guest bedrooms above. Another feature is the light-filled two-story space where the client’s home office is located.”

Achieving this juxtaposition was a long, intricate process that involved several discussions and design versions. “This project was a solid collaboration with the client. As architects, we are tasked with problem-solving on every project. The involvement of the client and good communication lends to the success of a project,” Parks says. “This project went through several iterations as the design process evolved. I believe it represents the contemporary ideals found in all of my work over the years.”

Over the years, Parks has developed a recognizable style that has helped define the local landscape. He is an award-winning architect who boasts nearly three decades of professional experience in commercial, municipal and custom residential projects. His accolades include the American Institute of Architects (Florida Association) Merit Award for Excellence in Architecture (for the G.WIZ Blivas Science & Technology Center), as well as the Institute’s Florida Gulf Coast Chapter Presidential Honor Award (for advancing quality design and architecture in the community). Some of Parks’ famed commercial projects are the 20,000-square-foot Benz Research & Development facility in Bradenton, and the aforementioned 30,000-square-foot G.WIZ facility. Parks’ municipal work includes the design of the $2.4-million Sarasota County Area Transit bus transfer facility, which is adjacent to Sarasota City Hall. In fact, he met the Collins Residence client while involved in some of these area-wide projects.

“For the Collins Residence, the client—being closely associated with architects in his own business—would produce massing and design studies to discuss how these spaces would interact with the site. Ideas of the client were conveyed, a lot of times, by a software program the client used in their own business,” Parks says. “The site was important to the owner, so the spaces and their adjacencies were established early on by the client and the architect. It was important to the client not to create an over-scale design that would dwarf the adjacent houses in an old, established neighborhood.” The end result was wowing but not overpowering, as intended. And Parks’ signature stamp remains firmly on the space.