Welcome to the latest issue of Sweet Sparkman | In Detail, where we share insights into the art of architecture, a look at some of our projects, and news about our staff and organization. We hope you enjoy this glimpse into our process-driven practice and the many directions our profession takes us. If there's a particular project or topic you'd like us to address, let us know. We want "In Detail" to be a forum for enthusiasts of all things architecture and interior design, as well as those merely curious about the nuances of the field.

In the Shade at the Bay

By far one of the most ambitious projects our region has ever undertaken, the newly opened Bay Park on Tamiami Trail represents a far-reaching public-private collaboration that will redefine outdoor recreation for years to come. As the design team selected to create the park’s marquee shade structures, we saw it as an opportunity to push ourselves in terms of concept and design. For inspiration, we turned to the Field Theory of famed architect, Walter Netsch. His work utilizes an ordering system based on mathematical proportion, yielding striking designs that meet the programmatic needs of the space. Our shade structures borrowed from his concept of form and proportion but applied it to designs that match the curves of the park’s pedestrian pathways. The resulting structures adapt Netsch’s angular approach to the curvatures of the surrounding environment. We hope our region enjoys the experience of moving through and under them as much as we enjoyed designing them.

A Post-Hurricane Update

We are grateful to report all of our staff weathered the storm safely and our offices did not sustain any damage. We are also delighted to report the many public buildings and residences in Southwest Florida designed by the firm performed with flying colors during and after Hurricane Ian. These buildings include the Boca Grande Fire Station and Administrative Building, Bokeelia Fire Station, Captiva Fire Station, Lovers Key Visitors Pavilion, and a Captiva Island residence. The recovery efforts we have seen represent the best of what can be accomplished when we work together.

Venice Theatre Rebuild

Unfortunately, not all buildings in our region were quite so lucky. Venice Theatre, which is the second largest community theater in the country and an historic piece of Venice, Florida, sustained significant damage to its stagehouse. Fortunately, we were already in the process of designing a renovation for the theater campus’ Raymond Building, so, we were able to incorporate a stagehouse rebuild into our design process. Part of the process meant a visit to the theater shortly after the hurricane passed to survey the damage. It was quite the scene, but we’re energized to get to work on the rebuild and help the beloved theater company get back on its feet as quickly as possible.

Check out this recent article in Your Sun, which explores the story at length: Now the Rebuild Begins.

A Seaside Fire Station

We’ve been honored to be selected for the design of many southwest Florida Fire Stations, and Sarasota County Fire Station 13 presented us with a great opportunity to reframe one of our previous designs for the quartz sand of Siesta Key Beach. Check out the video below to find out what inspired the design and how our process helped us find solutions to design challenges.

New Projects on the Horizon

While we cherish all of our projects, it’s especially rewarding to continue deepening our ties to our region. Here are some new projects we are proud to have been selected for:

Fruitville Library Expansion

The vibrant library system of Sarasota County has earmarked funding for some additions to Fruitville Library that will modernize its offerings. Among the additions are a dedicated creation station (or makerspace), a young adult room, a redesigned youth area with dedicated programming room, and an additional conference room space with collaborative technology. We are excited to delight and engage library visitors with these new features.

New Sarasota County History Center

With the current history center on Porter Road set to be vacated and demolished in early 2023, Sweet Sparkman was selected to design the brand new, 30,000-sq-ft archival, museum, and reference service building. The new, state-of-the-art facility will provide residents and visitors with access to alternating collections and exhibitions, events, meeting rooms, conference rooms, research areas, and specialized storage areas for sensitive historic materials.

New Sarasota County Parks, Recreation

and Natural Resources Building

With Sarasota County selling its downtown properties, its plan is to relocate the bulk of its operations to brand new facilities near Celery Fields, east of I-75. One of those new facilities is the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources building, which will be a part of the broader administration campus for our rapidly growing region. Notably, the facility will be located near our Sarasota County Fire Station 8 project, a project that gave us actionable hands-on experience with the site configuration for the new administrative building.

Historic Renovation at the Bay Haven School of Basics Plus

Designed in the Mediterranean Revival Style by M. Leo Elliot in 1926, the same architect who designed the renowned Late Gothic Revival Sarasota High School building, the Bay Haven School renovation is an opportunity for Sweet Sparkman to honor a titan of southwest Florida’s architectural history. The renovation project will include modernization of mechanical and electrical systems, new windows and doors, new floors, the addition of an elevator, and new restrooms among other features—all without tarnishing a single historic feature of the nearly 100-year-old building.

Saying Farewell to our Summer Interns

We take great pride in being able to offer architecture and interior design students some real-world experience in their respective fields. This summer, we were graced with the energy and creativity of:

Arianna Riviere, Polytechnic University of Milan

Joining us from the oldest university in Milan, Italy, Arianna brought a worldly perspective to our design team. While learning how to use new software to help generate renderings for clients, she assisted with all facets of the design process for a Siesta Key residential project. Of her experience with us, Arianna says:

“This opportunity has not only exposed me to inventive projects and a nurturing work environment, but helped me become acquainted with new design techniques that foster well-being and a sustainable future.”

Daniel Rivero-Gonzalez, University of Florida

Daniel returns to his studies at the venerable University of Florida after helping us produce important design files across many of our projects. From perspective renderings and architectural visualizations of fire stations and residential projects, to site analysis and diagrammatic drawings of public projects, his dedication to the craft knew no limits. Of his time with Sweet Sparkman, Daniel says:

“This internship offered me an autonomy to explore various approaches to tackling design challenges. Most importantly, I appreciatedt he team-based approach of the firm, which was generative and collaborative.”

Saying Hello to our Fall Intern

Harrison Smith, University of Cincinnati

With so many big projects on the Sweet Sparkman docket, Harrison is applying his energy to some diverse industries. While conducting research and drafting renderings for a new performing arts center in the Tampa Bay area, he is also showcasing his mastery of the Revit software and in physical model-making to produce vital tools for our rigorous design process. Harrison says of his time with us:

“I started my internship in mid-August and was empowered right away to jump into a variety of projects. To see my theoretical knowledge translated into real-world projects really heightened my passion for the field.”

In Closing

Thank you so much for joining us on our organization’s journey to bring design excellence to our region and beyond. As always, we’re excited to see where we go next and look forward to sharing more with you along the way. If you’d like to reach out with questions, comments, or inquiries for your upcoming projects, please visit our contact page and we’ll respond as soon as possible.

Wishing you well,

The Sweet Sparkman Team