Reimagining Pei

A Design Challenge to Adaptively Use the Landmark Dormitories of Sarasota’s New College of Florida

“Buildings speak a great deal louder than words. They say many things about a community’s attitude toward education, toward intellectualism, toward creativity. They speak of interest or apathy, pride or neglect.”

— Philip Hanson Hiss III, First Chair, Board of Trustees, New College of Florida

Architecture Sarasota in conjunction with New College of Florida is pleased to announce the three finalists for Reimagining Pei—a design competition devised to honor the unique work of renowned architect I.M. Pei by boldly transforming the iconic Pei Dormitories on New College’s East Campus (a.k.a. Pei Campus). In the spirit of the original commission process awarded to Pei sixty years ago, in 1963, three teams were chosen to develop design concepts: Brooks + Scarpa of Los Angeles; Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors of Sarasota; and STUDIOS based in the United States and France. The teams will present their work in Sarasota on November 15, 2023.

Pei Dormitories

Completed in 1965, the New College of Florida’s Bates, Rothenberg, and Johnson Residence Halls—commonly referred to as the Pei Dormitories—are the only designs by I.M. Pei in the state and are a rare example of Brutalism from this era in Sarasota. In Florida, Pei imported his individual approach of the Brutalist style to give aesthetic form to the burgeoning school. He created a heavy concrete frame for his buildings in contrast to the transparency and lightness of the Sarasota School architects. Designing the dorms in tight clusters of geometrically arranged groups, the Pei-designed residence halls are composed of three courts or pavilions designed for student living, each centered around “Palm Court” (planted with rows of tall palms) for communal gathering. Small ponds with fountains in the courtyard have been replaced by gardens.Since their inception, the Pei Dorms and buildings have come to represent the aspirations of the institution and its original founders, and embodied the New College experience for early alumni, with the Palm Court once being ‘center’ of student life.

Winning Design

* Additional terms and conditions apply. For a complete list of contest rules and regulations email
** Winning the competition is separate from any future project. There is no guarantee of additional work, and any subsequent project will be subject to a separate public
procurement process.