BUILDING A DAY: October 14, 2014
Gene Leedy Architectural Office
Winter Haven, Florida
Architect: Gene Leedy
Photos: Mike Potthast
“My office was one of the first buildings. I experimented on myself. And that was the first all pre-stressed concrete columns, beams, and double Ts in the world. And then I did the Dormon House and then the Sands house across the lake about the same time.”
— Gene Leedy, The Leedy Lifetime Works Tour
Shortly after graduating from the architecture program at the University of Florida, Gene Leedy moved to Sarasota in 1951 to start his career working for Ralph and William Zimmerman. He joined the practice of Paul Rudolph a year later who had just opened his own office and was recruiting young talented architects to work for him and explore the application of modernist principles to a regional vernacular and tropical climate. The work grew into an architectural movement now widely known as the Sarasota School of Architecture.
He left Sarasota for two years to serve in the military and returned in 1954. He moved his practice to Winter Haven in 1955 upon receiving a commission to design a private residence.
In 1961 Leedy designed and built a small two-story architectural office at 444 Avenue G NW. This design is significant as it was one of the first buildings to have the design elements that are considered his signature designs of precast concrete, especially long-span “double-tee” structural elements.
The innovative concrete support system gave him the opportunity to experiment with other elements in the design and he was able to add extra large windows in the front of the building that are counter-weighted for effortless gliding and large spans of glass nearly two stories high. The base of the office building is enclosed in a courtyard with an Ocala-block privacy wall capped with red brick.