"Reimagining Pei” is an exciting design challenge devised to boldly transform the landmark Pei Dormitories while honoring the unique work of the renowned architect I.M. Pei. New College, in collaboration with Architecture Sarasota, invited practicing architects to find a creative new use for these iconic structures to reflect plans for recreation, entertainment and athletics on the East campus.

What can these buildings become? How can they positively impact student life, sports, recreation, and the overall college experience? This adaptive use competition is a rare opportunity for architects to put creativity to the test while helping to preserve a part of history. New College and Architecture Sarasota, will review qualifications of architects interested in “Reimagining Pei” and select a winning design from three finalists who will each receive $10,000 for their work from the New College Foundation.


For all contest details, visit: Architecture Sarasota

Important Dates:

  • August 1–September 1: Open call for proposals
  • September 8: The New College Foundation will award three finalists $10,000 to
    develop their designs. Press release announcing finalists.
  • November 15, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Architects present designsJoin Architecture Sarasota for the public presentations of the designs for reimagining the Pei Dormitory complex at New College of Florida by finalists: Brooks + Scarpa, Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors, and STUDIOS Architecture.
    Mildred Sanier Pavilion
    5313 Bay Shore Road
    Free and open to the public
  • November 21: Sweet Sparkman Architecture & Interiors announced as winning firm.

“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 Completed in the 1960’s, the Pei Dorms are the only designs by Pei in Florida and a rare example of Brutalist style architecture from the era. 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.

“New College values what these structures represent to thousands but also recognizes that the current condition of the dorms makes complete renovation cost prohibitive if not impossible,” said New College Interim President Richard Corcoran. “We plan to repurpose and reimagine the Pei Dorms in a way that honors the institution’s founding while continually striving for excellence and inspiration.”

New College is conducting the contest in the spirit of the original process that awarded the commission to Pei sixty years ago and inspired by the impact of New College’s first board chair, Philip Hanson Hiss III (1910-1988) on the Sarasota community.   Hiss was the primary catalyst of the Sarasota School of Architecture—a modern architecture movement that addressed the distinct geographic, climatic, and socio-cultural context of South Florida’s Gulf Coast region. Hiss enlisted architect I.M. Pei to design New College’s campus.

“Preserving and celebrating the past does not mean freezing things in time. Rather, places and spaces have to be continually reinvented and repurposed to meet shifting needs and values,” notes Architecture Sarasota President Morris “Marty” Hylton III. “This shared initiative between Architecture Sarasota and New College of Florida demonstrates the power of collaboration to help ensure the continuity of the Sarasota community’s architectural legacy.”

“Reimagining Pei” arose from findings from The New College Challenge—a year-long collaboration between Architecture Sarasota and New College of Florida that brought together academic teams from six top-tier research and design universities as thought partners to reimagine the New College campus. The institution challenged the academic teams to create an innovative campus that embodies the aspirations of the school while considering the most pressing needs of the surrounding community.

“Adaptive reuse has always been in New College’s DNA, with the school adaptively using two historic bayfront mansions on the Ringling Estate as a library, classrooms, and faculty offices, among other uses, at its founding,” Hylton said.

The Reimagining Pei challenge will continue this legacy of reuse while beginning another chapter in future campus design at New College.

* 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.