Support for the former Selby Library needed


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff


Newsletter, Threatened, Advocacy, SOM, florida, Sarasota
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Updated March 8, 2019

The original Selby Public Library, a.k.a. G.WIZ building, is under threat of imminent demolition.

On Saturday, March 16, 2019, the City of Sarasota Commissioners will consider a Citizen's Appeal to save the Selby from demolition at a Special City Commission Meeting.

How you can help

We’re asking the Sarasota City Commission to do the right thing. Save and repurpose, don’t destroy, a part of Sarasota's rich architectural, historical and cultural legacy. Here's how else you can help.

  1. Email the Commissioners at and ask them to save and repurpose, don't destroy, this important community resource
  2. Sign the petition
  3. Follow Save the Selby on Facebook for important updates
  4. Donate to the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation to help drefary legal costs of the appeal
  5. Local residents can attend the March 16 hearing and request meetings with individual commission members


The original Selby Public Library was designed by master architect Walter Netsch in 1976. Mr. Netsch was a principal star of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, whose body of work has achieved great international acclaim. Sarasota should be proud to have such an exceptional example of his work. The Library—with its trapezoidal shapes suggesting sails—was positioned to be compatible with the neighboring Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and Hyatt Hotel, together overlooking Sarasota Bay. In 1998, the library moved to a larger building on First Street, downtown. G.WIZ remodeled the building as a science museum and opened in 2000.

In the Fall of 2018, commissioners voted to approve the intial phase of a $250-300 million bayshore redevelopment project that included $200,000 for the demolition of the Selby. In December, the Historic Preservation Board considered recommending that the building be deemed a historic structure, possibly sparing it from being torn down, but decided against it since a demolition permit was already signed. A January meeting of the city's Historic Preservation Board lasted almost 12 hours and ended in a 3-3 tie, upholding the city’s demolition decision and sending the appeal to the commission for consideration. Throughout the process there has been consistent opposition from the community, including Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch, the Sarasota Alliance for Historic Preservation, local residents Edward Haas and Docomomo US and the Docomomo US/Florida chapter. Read our letter of support here.

On September 19th, Eric Keune, AIA, LEED, AP
, Design Director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP gave a presenation about the building's design and it's architect and why it is considered "a working work of art" at the first public event on the original Selby Library (G.WIZ).


More coverage of the Selby 

"Sarasota to hear appeal to spare G.WIZ building," The Herald Tribune, February 20, 2019.

"Selby Library by SOM’s Walter Netsch may be demolished in Sarasota bayfront project," The Architect's Newspaper, September 17, 2018.