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A look at the future of the Venice Theatre campus.

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Sweet Sparkman Shines

Local Architecture Firm That Designs Extraordinary Residences & Public Buildings Now Leading the Reconstruction of Venice Theatre After Hurricane Ian

Sweet Sparkman Architecture and Interiors has gained renown for crafting luxurious custom homes and designing stand-out public buildings. Here is a look at some examples of both, plus an update on the firm’s current work: rebuilding the Venice Theatre post Hurricane-Ian.

Homes Designed by Sweet Sparkman

One standout example of Sweet Sparkman's geographically informed contemporary architecture is a residence in Blackburn Bay, which showcases a split-level floor plan that harmoniously complements the site's natural topography. 

Similarly, Osprey’s "Guest House in the Trees,” set within a mature oak hammock along Sarasota Bay, draws inspiration from the character of live oaks shaped by coastal winds. These homes exemplify the firm's commitment to organic architecture reflective of its surroundings.

Coastal Engineering Expertise

Sweet Sparkman excels not only in aesthetic design but also in structural engineering, particularly for coastal areas. This was evident when both Southwest Florida residences and public buildings designed by the firm withstood the battering of Hurricane Ian–a residence on Captiva Island and the Captiva Fire Station included. The firm's expertise in coastal design ensures structures are not only visually appealing but also robust in the face of natural disasters.

Venice Theatre Rebuild After Hurricane Ian

In September 2021, Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the historic Venice Theatre, causing devastating damage. The storm knocked out the back wall of the 1926-built structure, which led to extensive water damage throughout the theater.

Before the hurricane struck, Sweet Sparkman was already involved in conceptual master planning for the future growth of Venice Theatre, and renovations to existing buildings. That included ADA upgrades, cosmetic renovations, roof replacements, HVAC upgrades, and plumbing updates across all three of its buildings. 

The Impact on the Fly Loft

Hurricane Ian also destroyed the theatre’s Fly Loft, which is the crucial area above a theater stage where sets and mechanical elements of a production are stored. Sweet Sparkman worked with Sarasota's Magnum Builders to not just rebuild, but also modernize the structure to current theatre standards and safety codes. 

Project Manager Hannah Boehmer emphasized the importance of modernizing the Fly Loft to enhance the Theatre's capabilities, ensuring it can last for 50 years or more. The project included efforts to secure approvals from various boards, such as Site & Development, Rezone, Height Exemption, and the Historic and Architectural Preservation Board.

That earlier master plan for Venice Theatre is on hold, said Boehmer. But current plans do include “a goal to unify (the look) of the three Venice Theatre buildings,” she confirmed. 

September 2021's Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the historic Venice Theatre, causing devastating damage.

  • A view of the interior of the newly-renovated Jervey Theatre.
  • Hurricane Ian blew off the north back wall of the Venice Theatre’s main building and caused much other damage.
  • The loft view of Sweet Sparkman-designed "Guest House in the Trees” in Osprey, FL.
  • This rendering shows how the new Fly Loft will look inside the reconstructed Venice Theatre.
  • A look at the future of the Venice Theatre campus.