July 10, 2012 — New College of Florida has begun renovation of the plaza in front of the Jane Bancroft Cook Library, a facility it shares with the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. A key component of the project is the construction of a new bell tower underwritten with a gift of $400,000 from Beverly Koski, one of Sarasota’s leading philanthropists and community leaders.
The tower will be named for Beverly and her late husband, Robert, co-founder of Sun Hydraulics. Koski has been active at New College for much of its history, serving for many years as a leader of the New College Library Association. In the College’s early years, she and her husband Bob made one of the first large gifts to the library, and the Koski Core Collection Fund continues to help acquire new books and resources.
The plaza renovation itself is being funded with $300,000 from the state of Florida. When complete, the $700,000 project is expected to further transform the heart of the New College campus, creating a seamless, communal outdoor space that stretches along Bay Shore Road from the library (located just north of Asolo Repertory Theatre) to the adjacent Academic Center, which was completed in the fall of 2011. The construction manager for the entire project is the Sarasota firm, Willis Smith Construction.
Graham-Booth Landscape Architecture of St. Petersburg, landscape architects for the Academic Plaza, has provided design services for the Cook Library plaza restoration. The entire plaza will be “scraped” to make way for new pavers, landscaping materials, lighting, grass, raised planters flanking the entrance and tables with attached seating. The stainless steel sculpture ‘Double Spiral Arch,” created by Linda Howard in 1987, has been returned to the artist for refurbishing. It will be painted white and moved to another location, likely on the hillock behind the Pritzker dorm, where it will be visible from U.S. 41.
The modernist bell tower was designed by Renker-Eich-Parks Architects of St. Petersburg. The striking design evokes the historic Four Winds seal, similar in theme to the Four Winds Sculpture located on the Academic Plaza, but with a leaner, edgier structure. Located at a 45-degree angle from the library entrance, the obelisk-style tower will rise 64 feet and feature four twisting, precast concrete pilasters of differing heights.
Holding the pillars together are two rings, and mounted between them are four bells built by the French company Paccard, often referred to as the “Stradivarius of bell makers.” Seven generations of bell makers have succeeded one another, from father to son, to run the business. More than 120,000 Paccard bells are installed in cities and villages around the world.
Both the plaza and bell tower should be ready by mid to late October, according to New College Senior Architect Jack Whelan, who is the project manager.
“We’ll be using the same paving, lighting and landscape themes that define the northern portion of the plaza adjacent to the Academic Center completed last year,” says Whelan.
“The bell tower itself is going to be absolutely gorgeous, a real showpiece to be enjoyed by the community and students alike.” White lighting from the base and rings will complete the dramatic effect.
Access to the library entrance will be maintained throughout the construction period.