Today on claass HAUS, a true roadside gem- Victor Lundy's Warm Mineral Springs Motel.
Situated along Tamiami Trail near Venice, Florida, the Warm Mineral Springs Motel stands as the unofficial gatekeeper to the nearby artesian spring, greeting visitors with its unique concrete umbrellas and waving palm trees. Constructed in 1958, the motel is a striking piece of commercial design, a midcentury experiment exploiting the architectural possibilities of the mild Florida climate and the aesthetic potential of the modernist vocabulary. All glass walls, lush greenery, and seamless integration of indoor and outdoor space, the motel seems linked to its place, meant to surprise and delight those travelers seeking sun and the healing waters of the Florida coast.
Typical of motels of the postwar period, the one-story U-shaped Warm Mineral Springs Motel is organized around a lush interior courtyard and a perimeter parking lot, offering motorists both retreat and convenience. But while the motel might be conventional in plan, it remains thoroughly distinctive in detail with its series of concrete hyperbolic paraboloid supports (reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax columns) echoing the organic shape of a flourishing tree canopy. Like a piece of sculpture, the building is full of energy, movement, and light, a playful exploration of form and technology.
Designed by Sarasota School architect Victor Lundy, the Warm Mineral Springs Motel remains a compelling piece of postwar design and an imaginative icon of roadside architecture's golden age. Somewhat of an underappreciated figure within the canon of modern architecture, Lundy designed the motel with an artist's eye, creating sculptural forms that still seem vital, vigorous, and highly original. As much artist as architect, Lundy grew up in New York, training at New York University in the classical Beaux Arts system. But after serving in World War II (he was drafted at 19 and famously filled notebooks with extraordinary sketches during his time in Europe), Lundy attended the Harvard Graduate School of Design where the Bauhaus-influenced curriculum shaped the architect's employment of the modern dialogue. A remarkable combination of Beaux Arts and Bauhaus, Lundy created an architectural aesthetic completely his own- versatile, imaginative, and always adventurous.
Practicing at the intersection of art and architecture, Victor Lundy used novel technology and expressive forms to develop an architectural departure from the modernist norms of the period (even within the very innovative Sarasota architectural community). His knack for experimentation and an unorthodox aesthetic served him well during his eclectic career, and though he never created a volume of work comparable to his peers (like Paul Rudolph), he developed a singular architectural style that even decades later remains creative, captivating, and inherently modern.
You can read more about Lundy here.
Image at top:
By Kirkbailey (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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