Task Force to Hear Design Proposals for Sarasota PAC

Todays News

Photos: While designs for the Sarasota PAC have not been released, finalists have submitted relevant sample work.

The architecture firms still in the running to design the new Sarasota Performing Center will make public presentations this week to the Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation.

“The Architect Selection Task Force assigned with the architect design selection process for a new Sarasota Performing Arts Center at The Bay will host live in-person interviews and presentations with the three finalist firms,” explained Samantha Dourney, a spokesperson for the foundation. “The forums are open to the public.”

Representatives from Foster & Partners Limited, Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Snøhetta will all present their visions for the new facility, a centerpiece of The Bay redevelopment. Foster & Partners, based in London, England, designed the Gherkin in London. RPBW, based in Genoa, Italy, is responsible for the Parco della Musica Auditorium in Rome. Snøhetta, created vision for the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.

The multi-year project is projected to cost between $275 million and $300 million. Much of the funding will be privately raised, and the city in March announced a $10 million contribution from the Paul Seed Fund at KBF CANADA.

Presentations and live interviews will take place through the day Wednesday between 9am and 4:30pm at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Grand Foyer.

The following day, the Architect Selection Task Force will meet at City Hall, in Room 112, for final deliberations and to select the firm that will receive the design contract. The task force making the decision is made up of three foundation board members — Ocwen Financial Corporation director Jenne K. Britell, Sarasota construction mogul Mark Famiglio and The Director's Council President and CEO Michele Hooper — and one city-appointed official — Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall executive director Mary Bensel. The deliberation process will also be held in public.

The Architect Selection Process has unfolded over six months. A request for quotes resulted in 43 submissions from firms across the country, and then 18 qualifying firms provided complete proposals. The Task Force winnowed entries to six semi-finalists and then four finalists; Gehry Partners ultimately withdrew from the competition.

The construction of the venue is part of the Bay Park Master Plan approved in 2018. The Sarasota Performing Arts Foundation, formerly the Van Wezel Foundation, is leading the process for creating the new center in partnership with the city, and has invested $2 million in private dollars already to the planning process.

The new performing arts center is envisioned as a replacement for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, though the future of that facility has been determined yet. A blue ribbon commission is expected to meet in mid-June to discuss the fate of the Purple Cow. But with less than 2,000 seats and risks of flooding, city officials have said a new venue is needed to stay competitive attracting national tours.

The new center will be a 230,000-square-foot venue with 2,250 seats for the main stage, as well as a 400-seat flexible performance space, a 10,000 square-foot education and lifelong learning center, a 90-foot fly tower to “meet the demands of artistic innovations in the future, and multiple outdoor public performance spaces.

Photos: While designs for the Sarasota PAC have not been released, finalists have submitted relevant sample work.

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