AND IF YOU’RE CURIOUS about the byname for Healy Guest House—the technology implemented to build its roof was inspired by a polymer spray that Rudolph saw used at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to weatherproof warships returning after WWII in order to moth-ball, or “cocoon” them. Rudolph, being the creative revolutionary that he was, opted to try this material in the construction industry. You’ll notice a deep catenary dip of the roof and the horizontal beams bending to facilitate that curved, canopy-like ceiling (similar to the one you’d jerry-rig as a kid with a blanket for your pillow fort). Except this one is heavy-duty and can drain rain runoff. According to Rudolph himself, this cocoon can be stretched to almost three times its normal length, return to its normal state and still remain watertight. The roof structure is tied to the traverse partitions below, which onlookers will notice on the east and west side were filled with perfectly spaced wood jalousies for energy-efficient lighting, sun control, privacy and ventilation—demonstrating that harmony between the work of nature and the work of man can go hand in hand.


“Cocoon House exemplifies one of the major characteristics of modern architecture—open space planning—which has recently been popularized by HGTV as ‘open concept’, but has, in fact, been practiced since the early 20th century,” says SAF Chairman of the Board Christopher Wilson. “The home shows the creative experimentation with new, and at the time, un-tried construction materials, not only in the groundbreaking work of the Sarasota School of Architecture, but also in the modern architecture of the 1950s and ‘60s.” 

Architect junkies and design buffs were delighted to hear SAF inked a 12-month lease on the Cocoon House this year for Rudolph’s centennial celebration, with plans to redesign and refresh the oldie but goodie to preserve its significance inside and out. With a solid collection of local partners and collaborators, its eminence as a landmark received pristine restoration and now appears as if its been sipping from the fountain of youth. The nonprofit architectural foundation has since opened the two-bedroom guest pad to limited public tours (offered through March 2019) and weekend rentals for tourists and locals alike. SAF worked with Pat Ball of Ball Construction to make cosmetic repairs and give the exterior some restorative TLC, including a new front door with “Blazer” red paint, while the interior was vamped up with classy, coastal touches of Pansy Bayou Studio and Ellen Hanson Designs to honor the intent of the space.


“These were important restorations in order to have Cocoon House more representative of how it was when originally built,” says David Zaccardelli SAF board member, who supervised the entire process, down to a repaired driveway with walkway pavers. “We replaced the front door, installed new screens and resurrected the louvers—stripping them to natural grain wood—painted the exterior from white to brown, and restored the front and rear porch, including the originally designed hanging metal bench overlooking Bayou Louise.” The porch now sports a West Flyers surfboard donated by One World Surf—wall-mounted beside plush outdoor pillows to lure guests outside for a breather with ambiance. 


With the collaborative efforts of Ellen Hanson and Pansy Bayou, the guesthouse reimagines retro, with ‘50s-inspired decor contrasting with coastal-modern flair, for a charming experience that engages the senses. Form follows function with a lack of unnecessary ornamentation and thoughtful presentation of vintage goods—creating an air of singularity combined with classic All-American appeal. Focusing first and foremost on the functionality, the team adorned the floor with an intricate quilt and oversized “cuddle puddle” cushions, swathed with sun bleached textiles by Charlotte Osterman unveiling bold prints in a muted, murky palette. A daybed specially crafted by Dale Reike of Wood Street Studio further complements the living room’s clean lines and simplistic pieces beneath wall-mounted art of organic shapes and nature.


SAF will also honor Paul Rudolph at its fifth annual SarasotaMOD Weekend November 9–11, for a fully packed festival celebrating Florida mid-century modern architecture. Beyond featuring lectures from famed critics and educators, film screenings, art exhibitions, house/trolley tours of other exclusive Rudolph structures and evening social events, SAF will also hold an auction of novelty items, including an archival pigment print of the Cocoon House signed by artist John Pirman, overnight staycations at the Cocoon House, plus special experiences at Rudolph’s other local imprints. Long live the MOD king.