December 22, 2014

The Big 3 Celebrating 50 Years

Real Estate's Past

Several trends have defined home design and construction over the past 50 years.

Barbara Miracle | 9/1/2008
Arthur Rutenberg
Builder Arthur Rutenberg

Clearwater builder Arthur Rutenberg, who has spent 55 years in the business, cites two developments in home design in the late ’50s and early ’60s that continue to influence builders:

» Split Plan: The goal was to eliminate unused hallway space. It became popular because it put the parents on one side of the house and children on the other side.

» Vista: A change that Rutenberg calls “scheherazade” focused on openness. Upon entering the foyer, homeowners and visitors look directly through the home toward the back yard and swimming pool. “It created a sensation,” says Rutenberg. “That really started the openness.”


» Then: Exterior concrete block walls covered in stucco, interior 2-by-4 studs covered in lath and plaster. Terrazzo floors on slab. Asbestos shingle roofs. Window or wall-mounted air-conditioning units. One-car garage or carport.

» Now: Exterior concrete block walls covered in stucco, interior 2-by-4 studs covered with drywall. Tile, carpet or wood on concrete slab. Barrel tile roofs. Central heat and air. Two- to three-car garages.


Competing Trends

Key West Home

Central air conditioning changed home design because architects did not have to be as concerned about cross-ventilation. Samuel Holladay, president and owner of Seibert Architects in Sarasota, says, “Air conditioning and mosquito control tamed Florida.” But with the growth of the new urbanist movement, traditional features like porches and windows designed for ventilation have reasserted themselves.


Then Now
Family size 4 3
Home size 1,000-1,200 sq. ft. 2,000 to 6,000 sq. ft.
Bedrooms 2 40% of homes have 4
Cost $10 sq. ft. $150-$300 sq. ft.

In the 1950s and 1960s, design adapted from the modernist movement in Europe took hold in Sarasota, where a small group of architects that included Paul Rudolph, Ralph Twitchell, Victor Lundy, Tim Seibert, Philip Hiss and several others matched design with Florida’s topography and climate in what is known as the Sarasota School of Architecture [“Getaways”]. Homes were small for the most part, averaging 1,500 square feet to 2,000 square feet, and had flat roofs and walls of concrete block. Sliding glass doors and other glass elements were used extensively. Shade and cross-ventilation were important to the design. And architects looked at trees and other landscaping as important components in climate control. Says architect Seibert, “You never knew whether you were indoors or out.”

MacDonald House
A Tim Seibert-designed home in Sarasota built in 1966

Tags: Housing/Construction

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