Umbrella House, Paul Rudolph, Sarasota, FL
Architectural Drawings & Basswood Model
Spring, 2011: Allan Shulman
The Paul Rudolph Umbrella House was established in the small island recognized as Lido Key in Sarasota, Florida. It was originally established as a spec home for developer, Phillip Hiss. According to current owner and restorer, Vincent Ciulla, the home initially only included the main enclosed building mass and the portion of the “umbrella” directly above it. The iconic expansion over the pool was added during construction. The site’s proximity to the water ensures consistent breezes and increases the tropical characteristics that would be used to attract potential buyers. A seminal member of the Sarasota school, Rudolph incorporates his principle of tropical regionalism with this umbrella typology, addressing the strong Florida sun. The floor plan adopts a modular linear grid at about 3’-0” on center. The grid is used to subdivide spaces hierarchically as well as position window sections directly across from each other, maximizing cross ventilation. Wood construction provides a breathable light material, and was a favorite of Rudolph’s. Unfortunately a mere ten years after construction a storm destroyed the original umbrella structure. It was not until a few years ago that Vincent Ciulla was able to reconstruct the primary portion of the umbrella, directly above the home; Ciulla has also laid out the foundation for the extension over the pool but has not yet built the remaining portion. The reconstruction includes an aluminum frame sandwiched between the pair of 2x8’s that make up each column, preserving the original appearance but bringing it up to contemporary structural standards, therefore ensuring that the home lasts for many more years to come.