Talking Shop With Jerry Sparkman, AIA, NCARB

Talking Shop With Jerry Sparkman, AIA, NCARB

You have had a very interesting career path Jerry…

After graduating from high school, I moved to study music in Los Angeles; however, upon arrival, I quickly realized that it was more about image than talent. I took a job in a restaurant and hung out at the beach and played music – I was a terrible waiter, but I did learn about food and cooking and became a Sous Chef. Eventually, I moved to Virginia to study Landscape Architecture.


Architecture is in your DNA and you eventually found your natural path…

My father is an architect and I had worked with him and put together a small portfolio in my youth, I then worked as a draftsman for a year before heading to Manchester, UK to study for two years. I then returned to the US to finish my degree and worked for my father for a decade, before obtaining my Masters in Landscape Architecture and Planning. During this time I was introduced to iconic Sarasota architect, Frank Folsom Smith, and I moved here to work for him in 2001.

You set up your own Sarasota studio in 2004, tell us about your practice?

We are located in downtown Sarasota, employ 27 staff, and have recently expanded the residential and commercial interior design business. My business partner, Todd Sweet, and I have a great balance of specialty and our work includes publicly funded projects, fire station design, civic community spaces, and high-end residential. We collaborate well and enjoy the broad base of client types and origins, from Sarasota and all over the United States and Europe.

What are you currently working on with Murray Homes?

This is a fabulous waterfront estate, featuring a large 1950’s home on the Sarasota intracoastal. The client said, “When my grandmother had people over for dinner, you felt special, and that caliber of experience is what I want.” The project is in two phases. We are focused on creating a unique dining pavilion close to the water that is designed to look and feel like a custom piece of furniture and transports her friends to a special place. The bedroom pavilions are designed to ensure that guests enjoy being part of the house while still affording privacy, allowing the landscape and design to blend with the architecture. I cannot even name the style it is so uniquely made for the client.

What do you enjoy most about working with Murray Homes?

Aside from their amazing team, Steve Murray is very hands-on with the whole project and ensures the best outcomes by encouraging the creativity of the united team, from architecture, interior design, to build and landscaping. This ultimately ensures that everyone is inspired and delivering at the highest level.

One of your many talents is being a musician, where do you play?

Yes, and I love it! I play slide guitar and mandolin.The Band is called The Schmitz Brothers and we play locally. Our music style ranges from Miles Davis to Johnny Cash. I previously played in a band called Radio Free Carmela and the Transmitters, touring Florida from Tallahassee to the Keys and playing festivals like the Florida Folk Festival.

Where do you like to travel and what inspires your work?

My family and I love to travel and would love to live in Italy – Lake Como, Venice or Tuscany. Next year we are headed to Santorini and Mykonos in Greece. Wherever we roam, I always study the quality of “street space” and examine every corner for that element of inspiration. My phone is packed full of travel photography and art! Sweet Sparkman have also been invited to participate in the Venice Biennale project, a conceptual architectural exhibit held each year in Italy, and of course we are going!


    University of Tennessee and University of Virginia – Masters in Landscape Architecture & Planning University of Virginia – Masters in Architecture
    Playing slide guitar and mandolin, being with family, travel, drawing, and making models
    Wife Leslie and boys Bennett, 15 and Jackson, 19
  • HOME A 1950’s home in Paver Park, Sarasota

Jerry Sparkman, AIA, NCARB