Joe Farrell, Architects Hawaii

Business Q & A


When the Center For Architecture Sarasota held its grand re-opening last week, an honored guest was Joe Farrell, who originally designed the Orange Avenue structure with the late William Rupp. Farrell spoke with SRQ about the structure and the ongoing celebration of the Sarasota School of Architecture.

What are the improvements and restorations to the CFAS building that stand out for you? It just makes it sing. I’m very happy about that. Guy [Peterson, the architect in charge of CFAS restoration] preserved all the original glass, which is now 50-some-odd years old. But I like the way they turned the big space in what used to be a furniture store so that they now have a lecture hall and a separate gallery for functions and exhibits. But some of the best things are yet to come. We have talked about the idea to take out some of the curb and put in landscaping. And on the other side, the alley will be taken out and there will be landscaping there as well, which will enhance the university side.

This wasn’t just a building you and Bill Rupp designed but a place where you located your office. How important is the structure for you? We put our heart and soul into the building. It came out great, but we didn’t really promote it as some great thing. We just went on to the next thing, which was the Caladesi [in Dunedin].

Coming back to Sarasota after spending so many professional years in Hawaii, what strikes you about the architecture of today? I do, in general, like what I see. There is significant creative modern architecture, mainly in the small buildings. I have some trouble with some of the high-rises, and I have designed six. But I love what I see at ground level downtown.

Is the Sarasota School of Architecture being honored in design today? I think it’s been adequately appreciated. I must say, you can’t hang out in the past. You have to go forward into the future, which is what most architects, particularly creative architects, do. You don’t look back. But I think it’s great that John Howe [writer of The Sarasota School of Architecture] did a great thing bringing attention to those buildings that make a difference. The whole thing, though, has to do with the fact Sarasota has some kind of spirit for aesthetics, and about the art of many things. Paintings, lifestyle, architecture, music, there is something in the water.

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