A STUNNING COINCIDENCE
Written and Edited by F. Carrington Weems II
In early December 2008, I happened upon a book entitled, “Florida Modern” by Jan Hochstim published on September 13, 2005, printed in China, and sold by Rizzoli, New York.
The very first page, a centerfold, and again on page 172, features a house designed by Edward J. (Tim) Seibert. He and I are close to the same age. Seibert received his Bachelor Degree in Architecture from The University of Florida in 1953 after having been an Art Major at StanfordUniversity. His mentor was Ted Fearney, his teacher at Florida. Seibert worked for Paul Rudolph and opened his own firm in 1955. Seibert designed the “Hiss Studio” (Exhibit C) which is incredibly similar to my “Floating House” (Exhibit A). Even the criteria for the designs were amazingly similar.
Paul Marvin Rudolph (1918-1997) “was clearly the brightest star in Sarasota’s Architectural Firmament,” said Jan Hochstim, author of the book. Rudolph was exposed to Walter Gropius at Harvard University where he received his Masters of Architecture Degree. He opened his Sarasota office in 1951, and closed it in 1960. He was Chairman of the Department of Architecture at Yale University beginning in 1958. While in Florida, he did many exceptional residential designs. Once again, the amazing, uncanny, coincidental similarity of my “Floating House” with Rudolph’s “Biggs Residence” (Exhibit B) is hard to believe. The author, in describing this house, says, “Rudolph ‘floats’ this oblong, boxlike structure above the site of this Florida East-Coast community in 1955.”
I was a bit of a recluse in 1955, working in my new “studio,” starting to develop Baywood and designing “Floating House.” I had lost contact with the architectural world and the two schools, Rice University and The University of Houston. I was on my own at age 27. I first became familiar with the name Paul Rudolph when my committee to select an architect for the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas, was in session in our living room in 1971. I had only heard of Tim Seibert when I bought the subject book. I am certain that neither of these men had ever heard of me either. Then how did this remarkable coincidence happen? By 1955, I had been to Florida only once in 1942 with my family, and that was in Pensacola. I was fourteen and did not yet know that I wanted to be an architect.