Sarasota’s architectural legacy rivals that of many great cities. In the 1950s and ’60s, our region became a global leader in architectural innovation. The titans of mid-century modernist architecture made their mark here. The honor roll of innovators includes Paul Rudolph, Victor Lundy, and one of the greatest titans of all—I.M. Pei.
This masterful, game-changing architect was fluent in the language of modernist form. Upon Pei’s death in 2019, The New York Times stated that his “buildings dazzled the world.” Pei has variously been described as an “audacious daredevil” (The Guardian) and “the world’s most revered architect” (Architectural Digest). Pei’s revolutionary designs include the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the glass pyramid at the Louvre’s entrance, and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston. Not long before his work on these preeminent structures, Pei came to Sarasota to design New College of Florida’s campus. Pei’s New College commission represents a significant chapter of his mid-career accomplishments.
In 1963, after a national competition, New College’s architect selection committee unanimously selected Pei to create a vision for the nascent campus. The boldly geometric, cantilevered structures he designed include the Pei Residence Halls and Hamilton Student Center. These graceful, modernist buildings represent a compelling chapter in Sarasota’s architectural history and their significance goes well beyond New College. These treasures are important to the surrounding community—and the world.
After 55 years, Pei’s iconic structures are showing their age. The New College Foundation has established the Pei Residence Halls Renovation Project to honor their significance. To reach our $15 million goal, we are actively seeking donations from New College alumni and our surrounding community. We are also seeking grants from private donors and from foundations and corporate entities.
The funds will go toward replacing roofs, sealing buildings against water intrusion, installing new cooling and heating systems, renewing the courtyards, and renovating and upgrading the dormitory rooms. With renewal, the Pei Residence Halls will provide New College students with a dynamic environment that meets 21st -century standards—and, once again, serve as a shining jewel in our region’s architectural legacy.
We invite you to join us in preserving I.M. Pei’s extraordinary legacy in our community.