Paul Rudolph & Ralph Twitchell, 1948 (more…)
Ralph Twitchell (1890-1978) was born in Mansfield, Ohio, and first became acquainted with Florida when his mother brought his family down south every winter. He studied architecture at Rollins College and pursued graduate study at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and then Columbia University in New York. During World War I, Twitchell was a test pilot and sustained multiple injuries that left him almost dead.
Twitchell first came to Sarasota in 1925 to supervise the construction of John Ringling’s “Ca d’Zan” for New York architect Dwight James Baum. Until 1936, Twitchell spent his summers in Connecticut and his winters in Sarasota, eventually moving full-time to Sarasota and establishing his own architectural practice and construction company. Inspired by the modern architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, Twitchell experimented with reinforced concrete and the Art Deco style in the 1940s.
Just before World War II, in April 1941, Twitchell employed the recent Auburn University graduate Paul Rudolph as a draftsman, who would later become an associate and then full partner, founding the “Sarasota School of Architecture.” Twitchell and Rudolph split in 1951. Twitchell would later partner with Jack West and his son Tollyn, practicing architecture well into the 1970s.
FUN FACT: Twitchell was kicked out of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1935 because he simultaneously ran an architect’s practice and a construction company. In practice, this did not matter much because at that time the AIA was merely a club and not the regulatory body that it is today.