Letter From Home: The Vue — reader reaction
Harold Bubil Herald Tribune May 1, 2016
Last week’s column on the Vue Sarasota Bay brought a flurry of letters to both our Letters to the Editor newspaper page and my Facebook page, where an abundance of opinions were expressed at various points on the love-hate scale.
In the column (“The Vue raises a firestorm,” April 24), I quoted a city development official who explained that the building met the code and is close to the street because of zoning that was passed more than a decade ago.
I also wrote that I don’t like to judge the appearance of buildings “until they are complete.”
A sampling of my emails:
“What I expected from Harold Bubil was a more incisive explanation for the existence of that mishap building called ‘VUE,’ certainly not that weak justification. ‘Meeting the code’ is no excuse for an inappropriate, unsuitable structure for that site.
“I think, contrary to Bubil’s motto, it can be judged now.
“That sense of overwhelming mass will not be mitigated by completion or by time. Maybe setbacks would have helped.”
Bernard Sussman, Sarasota
“Your column contained two utterly absurd statements. (The writer attributed the first to the building official.) The second absurdity is your own concluding ‘motto’ to ‘Never judge a building until it is complete.’ In effect this means that no one should critique a proposed building — neither a (presumed) city planning and architectural expert (you), nor even a municipality. So let the builders do whatever they damn well please.”
Robert Kaplan, Sarasota
In response to this well-written and intelligent letter, which is excerpted here: I am not a city planning expert, nor have I purported myself to be. I write about architecture. I am not an architectural critic.
Regarding my motto, it pertains to buildings that are under construction. If you will allow me an analogy, even a champion at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show can look like a mutt when it is being groomed. They don’t go trotting the standard poodle around the ring with the rest of the Non-Sporting Group when the big boy is still dripping wet. However, back home, the groomer can hold up photos in advance so the owner can choose the look she likes.
Similarly, it is appropriate to judge architecture in advance of construction, which is why renderings and models are done.
Unfortunately, most people driving by a building under construction have not seen the rendering, unless it is posted by the street. It looks bad next to all the finished buildings. And the comparison is not fair.
I have a feeling that some opinions may change once the project is complete.
This case, however, is not so much about the architecture as the siting of the building.
As for letting the builders do what they please, the builders rely on the architects, and yes, I would rather that they be allowed to do as they please without being told, beyond the zoning code, how the building should look.
I will admit, though, to these facts: The Vue is taller than any downtown building except maybe the 261-foot Ritz-Carlton, and, coupled with its conjoined sibling the Westin hotel, makes for one massive mountain of concrete.
Next letter: “Right on!! Thanks for a ray of clear thinking on this subject. Personally, I have always been saddened by what happened years ago … the walling in of the town by condos on the bayfront. Would never happen in Europe, where everyone’s view of the water would be respected.
“But this is Florida; this is what we do and that’s just the way it is. I decided years ago I could make peace with it, or move. I’m still here. As for The Vue, just one more blip on the radar. Actually, I am looking forward to seeing it done. And the fact that it is so close to the street never bothered me; with global warming looming, it gives us more shade!
“And bravo for your final sentence to don’t judge until it’s done. You could write a whole column on the things here that made people whine when they were being built. When they were finished, everyone said, ‘Ahhh, that’s not so bad. Quite nice, really.’ ”
Mariana Cotton, Sarasota
“Dear Harold: I think the VUE will look GREAT when it is done. This has not been a ‘small’ town in quite a while: This is a city, and people want to live here. You can look upward and outward, or you can look at your toes and moan, ‘Where did it go?’ Either way, the city will grow.”
Scylla Liscombe, Sarasota