Ralph Twitchell was an architect who was considered the founding father of the Sarasota School of Architecture. He bridged his traditional architecture of the 1920’s with his modernist designs of the 1940’s.
He was born.in Mansfield, Ohio on July 27, 1890. His family relocated to Florida. He first enrolled in Rollins College. In 1910, he transferred to McGill University in Montreal. In 1912, he transferred to Columbia University in New York. He served in the army in World War I from 1917-1919. He resumed his studies at Columbia. He received a BA in architecture in 1920. He received a MA in architecture in 1921
Twitchell returned to Sarasota in 1925. He was a representative of New York Architect Dwight James Baum. He managed the final of stages of construction of Ca d’Zan–John Ringling’s Venetian Style Mansion on Sarasota Bay. After this project, he purchased 13 lots in the Ravellan Gardens neighborhood of Sarasota. He designed Mediterranean style homes for these lots. In 1926, the project tanked. He relocated to the Northeast.
Twitchell relocated to Sarasota in 1936. He opened his architectural and building firm Associate Builders. His earliest commissions were a Sierra Key Residence and the Lido Beach Casino. At this time, we experimented with reinforced concrete and glass.
In 1938, the American Institute of Architects revoked Twitchell’s license. Reason: his owner of a construction company.
In the summer of 1941, Twitchell hired Paul Rudolph as an associate. Rudolph worked here between the end of his studies at Alabama Polytechnic Institute and the beginning of his graduate studies at Harvard University Graduate school of Design. During this time, the two architects collaborated on multiple projects.
Rudolph returned to the Twitchell practice in 1947 and stayed until 1951. Rudolph’s focus was on structure; Twitchell on construction details. During this period, the two architects collaborated on many ground breaking private residences including: Miller House and Guest Cottage (1947), Revere Quality House (1948), the Lamolithic Houses (1948), Healey Guest House, Cocoon House (1950) and the Leavengood Residence (1951).
Twitchwell and Rudolph separated in 1951. Between 1951-53, Twitchell partnered with Jack West. Between 1959 and 1965, he partnered with his son Tollyn JulianTwitchell. He died in Sarasota in 1978.