RUDOLPH vis-à-vis THOMPSON

Left: Paul Rudolph, architect and urbanist. Photo: Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division.

Right: Benjamin Thompson, architect and urbanist. Photo: http://architectuul.com.

Vis-à-vis is a French phrase which translates as: face-to-face. It has been applied in assorted, quite literal ways, for example: for the kind of carriage wherein passengers sit in that configuration. Here’s the Queen being conveyed in a vis-à-vis:

Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Ascot races.  Photo:  www.phrases.org.uk

Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Ascot races.

Photo: www.phrases.org.uk

But we frequently see it used in the a rather less literal sense, to mean a direct contrast between two arguments, or two examples, or two sets of evidence, or two points-of-view. Making a case for policy, by using starkly contrasting examples, is an effective way to examine a point or advocate for a specific course-of-action.

A powerful example is a contrast that’s built into the DNA of the United States: it’s in the founding document, the Declaration of Independence. A key passage states:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Then, vis-à-vis, it states the contrasting case:

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

It then it goes on to present evidence, by listing a devastating set of abuses. It is an effective document, and—even today—still moving to read in-full.

We’ve just come across another example of a contrasting vis-à-vis—this interesting article, by David N. Fixler, which invokes Paul Rudolph:

The Paul in the headline is Paul Rudolph, and the Ben is Benjamin Thompson. Readers of these posts will probably need no introduction to Rudolph—but some words on Thompson may be of use.

Benjamin Thompson (1918-2002) was an almost exact contemporary of Rudolph—indeed, they were born in the same year. He was an architect and urbanist, and was associated with two significant firms: The Architects Collaborative (of which Walter Gropius was a partner), and then his own firm, Benjamin Thompson and Associates. Many of his works—particularly when he was associated with Gropius—were of canonically Modern design, often in the “Harvard Box” mode. Later, in connection with his serious thinking about the power of architecture to enliven and energize urban (and other) settings, he started to incorporate more stimulating forms into his architecture. Like Rudolph, he worked in many parts of the country, and on many different building types—and his firm was very successful with abundant commissions. We’d like to note one of his most well-known designs, a work of architecture of enduringly fine quality: his Design Research flagship store-building in Cambridge, MA (built for a company he also founded).

The Design Research store in Cambridge, MA, first opened in 1969.    Photo:    Daderot

The Design Research store in Cambridge, MA, first opened in 1969.

Photo: Daderot

But what Benjamin Thomson will probably be most remembered for is his conception, planning & design of“festival marketplaces”—especially incollaborationwith legendary developer and urbanist James W. Rouse. These are concentrated, walkable urban settings that combine shopping, dining (interior and al fresco), food stalls, pushcarts, plazas, bright graphics and banners, seating, preservation and/or renovation of vintage architecture (or new buildings that evoked the enchantment of older ones), and public art. The most famous of these are Harborplace in Baltimore, South Street Seaport in New York, Jacksonville Landing in Florida, and Faneuil Hall-Quincy Market in Boston. These projects were such successes, and such invigorating islands of urban energy, that they were seen and studied as almost magically effective models for civic design and revitalization. Purportedly, not all remained successful, as some contend is shown in the alleged uneven fortunes of places likeSouth Street Seaport and Jacksonville Landing.

The author of the Ben & Paul article is David N. Fixler, FAIA, who has been president of the New England chapter of DOCOMOMO. Mr. Fixler is extremely knowledgeable about the many tributaries of Modernism, and is well-qualified to talk about the contrasting approaches of figures like Rudolph and Thompson. As he points out, it’s Thompson’s “festival marketplaces” which exemplify the “vis-à-vis” to Paul Rudolph’s approach to larger-scale urban design.

The article makes astute annotations on the parallel tracks of the two architects, and equally insightful observations on how their approaches to design manifestly diverge. This is markedly shown in photographs, in the article, of models for two projects. The Thompson model is on top, and the Rudolph model is below:

The two approaches, of Thompson and Rudolph, are embodied in architectural models from each, which are depicted in the article.    Image: a page from the article, “Ben & Paul” by David N. Fixler, in the Spring,2011 issue of Architecture Boston magazine.

The two approaches, of Thompson and Rudolph, are embodied in architectural models from each, which are depicted in the article.

Image: a page from the article, “Ben & Paul” by David N. Fixler, in the Spring,2011 issue of Architecture Boston magazine.

Here are passages from Mr. Fixler’s fine text, which we think represent the essence of the argument:

The next leap is to the scale of the city, where the contrast of their respective philosophies is most starkly revealed. Here the idea of the “festival marketplace” — and the city as theater — becomes most evident in Thompson’s work. His buildings are backdrops, armatures that enable the unfolding of a colorful, flavorful, and (most important) desirable urban experience. As these expand into the realm of the unbuilt or partially realized megaproject — such as the Custom House Development in Dublin, or Harumi 1 Chome in Japan — the architecture remains unassertive and almost self-deprecating relative to the splendor of the experience.

In contrast, Rudolph asserts a utopian ideal about the ability of architecture to mold one’s experience of both the institution and the city. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 1962–71 Boston Government Services Center (Lindemann and Hurley) buildings — which stand, imperfectly realized, quasi-ruinous, but exalting in their formal glory, less than 1,000 yards from the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. It is easy to point to this complex as an act of architectural hubris — formally virtuosic but utterly dystopian from the perspective of the pedestrian either experiencing the complex at street level or trying to navigate its labyrinthine plan — but it is nonetheless heroic, if seriously flawed. At the larger urban scale, analogous with Thompson’s revitalization of the urban waterfront, one need look no further than Rudolph’s 1967 proposal for the New York Graphic Arts Center, a megastructure that builds on the modular principle of Safdie’s Habitat ’67 with the scale, utopian vigor, and structural pyrotechnics of the Japanese Metabolists.

There is a final lesson in comparing the models prepared for this project and those that Thompson’s office built for its large urban projects. Rudolph’s is monochromatic, minimally populated, mysteriously lit from within and relentlessly focused on the architecture as spectacular, theatrical sculpture that backs a hard edge up to the city while opening out to the Manhattan waterfront and the infinite beyond. Thompson’s, by contrast, are bright, colored, heavily populated, bannered, and snugly embedded within their urban context.

These two architectural approaches couldn’t be more vis-à-vis!

We may live in an era of concentrating wealth and power, but the general discourse is consumerist-populist (with a sharp orientation to entertainment and spectacle.) So there’s a strong disposition—these days we’d say meme—to publicly decry the individual design genius, and instead valorize anything that seems less formal, less controlled, and with a bigger, more colorful “menu” (in all senses). Moreover, anti-elitism has been an ever self-replicating thread throughout our history—so the work of “heroic” strong-willed designers (which entail creating total, highly-directed architectural experiences), have become a “hard sell”.

We’d opine that Thompson was offering an urbanism (and architecture) that is a delivery system for various kinds of simulative entertainment—especially shopping and dining. We’re not-at-all against stimulation or entertainment—but Rudolph is offering something else. His architecture—through its sculptural, spatial, textural, and material qualities—itself provides the stimulation. And, while Rudolph’s architecture can offer pleasurable encounters, it can also truly offer more: it can prompt experiences of the sublime, of peace, of meditation, of inquiry, and of exaltation.

We’ll go for that.

RUDOLPH’S FIRST DESIGN?

An illustration from the cover of a 1938 issue of “The Plainsman”, the official student newspaper of the Alabama Technical Institute (now: Auburn University). Could this be Paul Rudolph’s first published design? Image from an original newspaper clipping in the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

An illustration from the cover of a 1938 issue of “The Plainsman”, the official student newspaper of the Alabama Technical Institute (now: Auburn University). Could this be Paul Rudolph’s first published design? Image from an original newspaper clipping in the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

BEFORE YALE AND BEFORE HARVARD: ALABAMA!

When it comes to educational institutions, Paul Rudolph is most strongly associated with Yale, where he was chair of the architecture department from 1958 -to- 1965 (a good, long run for any chair or dean). If we were to think about his educational involvements a bit further, one would focus on Harvard: there he received his Master’s degree, studying during a period when Walter Gropius (1883-1969) was in charge of the architecture program.

A studio project by Paul Rudolph, made while he was completing his Masters degree in Harvard’s architecture program, then under the direction of Walter Gropius. The house was to be sited in Siesta Key, FL, and was known as “Weekend House for an Architect” (and was later transformed into his design for the Finney Guest House project.)    Image courtesy of Harvard student work archives.

A studio project by Paul Rudolph, made while he was completing his Masters degree in Harvard’s architecture program, then under the direction of Walter Gropius. The house was to be sited in Siesta Key, FL, and was known as “Weekend House for an Architect” (and was later transformed into his design for the Finney Guest House project.)

Image courtesy of Harvard student work archives.

But where did Rudolph’s architectural eduction actually begin? There’s abundant evidence that he was interested in architecture, design, and art from an early age (in addition to a youthful involvement with music—which also became a life-long focus). A letter from his mother recounts his boyhood explorations in design. And Rudolph’s own memory, about his first experience of a Frank Lloyd Wright building (at about age 13) testifies to the impression that it made on him.

His formal education commenced at the Alabama Technical Institute—now known as Auburn University. It was a traditionally-oriented architecture program, but the students were also made aware of Modern developments. By all accounts, Rudolph excelled—and we have his grade report for the first semester of 1939-1940:

Rudolph’s highest grades show his great focus on design—and music.    Document is from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Rudolph’s highest grades show his great focus on design—and music.

Document is from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

HIS FIRST DESIGN?

Among the other documents in the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is a clipping from The Plainsman—then and now, the school’s official student newspaper. The article, from February 9, 1938, shows a pen-and-ink rendering of a proposed campus gateway, and the caption says the the Senior Class of ’38 may fund it.

What’s intriguing to us is the signature on the drawing: Rudolph

The caption confirms the authorship, saying “Drawing by Paul Rudolph”—and combined with the fact that Rudolph had held onto the clipping for decades (whence its origin in our archives) connects him firmly to the drawing.

The rendering, tantalizingly, is signed by Rudolph—but is it his design?

The rendering, tantalizingly, is signed by Rudolph—but is it his design?

For a while, it looked like the project was going forward. An follow-up article in the February 23rd issue of The Plainsman showed the same rendering, and reported:

SENIORS APPROVE MAIN GATE

Proposed Gateway: Construction work upon the Senior Main Gate, for which the senior class showed a decided preference in the election last Wednesday, will begin as soon as the architect in charge has completed the exact plans and specifications for its building. It will be situated at the South-East corner of the campus across from the “Y” Hut. But a subsequent story, exactly one month later, reported that the project had been “dropped”—the explanation being that the projected cost far outstripped the original rough estimates, and “… no gate worthy of the class or the school could be constructed with the money appropriated.”

The gate remains, to our knowledge, unbuilt. But beyond these few facts, the mysteries of history begin, and we wonder:

  • Did Rudolph create that design? The caption says “Drawing by…”, but does not make clear the authorship of the design.

  • If it was his design, was the gate a project assigned to his class, with Rudolph’s scheme the one that stood-out among his classmates (and hence was chosen)?

  • Or was it the design by someone else—perhaps one of the professors or a local professional—and Rudolph only did the rendering?

  • If the latter, was the rendering done as a course project—perhaps an exercise in perspective rendering?—or did he volunteer, or was this a freelance project?

  • The second article about the project, quoted above, mentions “the architect in charge”—but who was that, and what was their relation to the design in the rendering? Could it have been a local firm (which handled the school’s routine work)—but the design was Rudolph’s

All tantalizing questions—but where or how could one find any convincing answers? The facts may be hidden in a diary, or stray letter—or nowhere. We may hope for some later revelation, for some illuminating document that comes to light—and things are sometimes found—but we must face the fact there are many more cases where history will never reveal her secrets.

RUDOLPH DID BUILD AT AUBURN

Paul Rudolph did eventually build at his old school: he designed the Kappa Sigma Fraternity House (the society to which he belonged as a student)—a frank, Modern design, from the early 1960’s.

Time passed and the building, after years of service, no longer fit the needs of the fraternity. They wrote to Rudolph, asking if he’d engage in a renovation—but, according to a letter in our archives, he told them that it would be better if they worked with someone locally. This brings up another mystery: Rudolph worked all over the country, indeed, internationally—and he was not un-used to being asked to come back and do alterations or changes on his already-built designs. So why would the distance from his office to Alabama present any difficulty? We’ll probably never know his reasons for the rebuff.

After Rudolph’s passing, Preston Philips—an architect who had gone onto a distinguished career, after having worked for Rudolph—visited the building. According to his April 25, 2007 letter in the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation archives, he reported that the fraternity had abandoned the it several years before, and the building was owned by the University. It stood empty and “in desperate condition”—though “largely intact”, and “beautifully sited in a Pine grove on a large corner site.” However, water was intruding due to some roof and glazing problems. Mr. Philips hoped that the University might find another use for the building and renovate, possibly as a guest house for visiting dignitaries and a place for dinners and receptions—but he was fearful that without some quick action, the building could be lost.

Regrettably, the building was demolished in 2016.

The Kappa Sigma Fraternity House at Auburn University, Auburn, AL. Paul Rudolph, architect.  Photograph: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The Kappa Sigma Fraternity House at Auburn University, Auburn, AL. Paul Rudolph, architect.

Photograph: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.



HONORING A MASTER: Frank Lloyd Wright—celebrating the birth of an architectural Titan

Frank Lloyd Wright in 1954, photographed when he was late 80’s—but still going strong and working on new designs.  Photo by a staff photographer for the New York World-Telegram and Sun newspaper, courtesy of the Prints and Photographs division of the Library of Congress.

Frank Lloyd Wright in 1954, photographed when he was late 80’s—but still going strong and working on new designs.

Photo by a staff photographer for the New York World-Telegram and Sun newspaper, courtesy of the Prints and Photographs division of the Library of Congress.

A FORCE OF NATURE

Frank Lloyd Wright endlessly spoke about (and celebrated) Nature—particularly nature’s importance as the teacher for designers. Wright—also a prolific writer—is an abundant source of quotes about this, as in this example:

“Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day’s work. Follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.”

But in the world of architecture, Wright himself was a “force of nature”: for nearly three-quarters of a century he was innovating and exploring all aspects of architecture and urbanism, and his activities extended to every aspect of design: interiors, landscaping, furniture, lighting, textiles, the decorative arts, sculpture, graphics—and he even designed some futuristic vehicles for land, water, and air! His concerns extended to larger issues of ecology and lifestyle.

Especially relevant for today is that, of all the great Modern architects, he was the first “Green” one—both in integrating low-energy-use principles into his designs, as well as in the long-term value of his buildings. A Wright building, well-maintained, could last 100’s of years (or longer), a most responsible use of “embodied energy”—both in beauty and resources!

A TITANIC EFFECT

Wright influenced generations of architects during his long life—and continues to do so. Here at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation we’re especially aware of his impact: a key moment in Rudolph’s development was his visit to Wright’s Rosenbaum House, in Florence, Alabama.

Here is Rudolph recalling it:

I was twelve or fourteen when I first saw a Frank Lloyd Wright house. That was in Florence, Alabama. I forget how I knew about this house, but I did, so I got my parents to drive over. I lived in Athens, Alabama. My father was head of a school there, a rural school, a Methodist girls’ school. I have probably told you about the piano hinges and cantilevered roof, no? The cantilevered roof, I suppose, was about eighteen feet. I had never seen anything like that. Well! I was completely delighted with the whole idea that this would hold Itself up, and I didn’t understand it at all. There it was. I always thought the car looked a little funny, but I loved the roof. The interior of the house was in rather typical Usonian style. I had never seen detailing like that, the idea of storage units, of which there were many of various kinds, being such an important element in the house. I specifically the piano hinges, which I thought the most beautiful things I had ever seen. I still do think they are beautiful, and idea of the clerestory lighting. quite open above, and the way the light goes onto the ceiling and comes back down. I remember disliking and not understanding the narrowness of the passageways. That seemed terribly constricted to me. I also remember the built-in furniture and how completely satisfying it was. especially the couches. There are very few architects whose work I would go out of my way to see, but I would always go to see anything, even the worst, of Wright’s.

Young Paul Rudolph, at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum house in Florence, Alabama—a visit that had lasting impact on his views (and practice) of architecture.  Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Young Paul Rudolph, at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Rosenbaum house in Florence, Alabama—a visit that had lasting impact on his views (and practice) of architecture.

Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Rudolph went on to say of Wright:

You must understand that all my life I have been interested in architecture, but the puzzle for me, in many ways, is the relationship of Wright to the International Stylists. Now perhaps for you that seems beside the point, or very, very strange. It has a little bit to do with when you come into this world, and that is when I came to grow. Wright's interest in structure was, to a degree. a psychological one. I am fascinated by his ability to juxtapose the very heavy, which is probably most clear, almost blatant, too blatant, in Taliesin West with the very, very light tent roof. It isn’t that his structures are so clear, because they are not. It is that he bent the structure to form an appropriate space. He would make piers three times the size that they needed to be in order to make it seem really secure. Or he would make the eaveline two or three inches deep by all sorts of shenanigans, from a structural point. My God, what did to achieve that, because he thought it ought to light. I would agree with him in a moment, but the International stylists would not. Well. they did and they didn’t. It was the bad and ones who did not. They didn’t know how, didn’t know why.

[Quotes are from: “Paul Rudolph—Excerpts from a Conversation” which appeared in Perspecta 22, 1986]

CELEBRATING WRIGHT

Over his long life (and after!) Wright has been celebrated in many ways, including the creation of 3 dozen house museums and endless exhibits, books (including some novels in which he’s the featured character), and TV documentaries—and there’s a line of Wrightian scarves, lamps, posters, hardware, journals… The US Postal Service even put Wright and his work on postage stamps 4 times—probably the record for any American architect.

Two of the four stamps, devoted to Wright and his work, created by the United States Postal Service.

Two of the four stamps, devoted to Wright and his work, created by the United States Postal Service.

To celebrate his 152nd birthday, you might want to seek-out a “Wright site” to visit. Since Wright built all over the US (and internationally), chances are that there’s one to visit that’s not far from you. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has put together a list of publicly visitable sites in the US: https://flwright.org/researchexplore/publicwrightsites

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation offers a list of “5 Ways to Celebrate Frank Lloyd Wright’s Birthday”: https://franklloydwright.org/5-ways-to-celebrate-frank-lloyd-wrights-birthday/

And for those who really want to “take him in,” this link will take you directly to the recipe for his favorite birthday cake! https://franklloydwright.org/frank-lloyd-wrights-birthday-cake-recipe/

Heroic Scale

Three of the many scale figures which are in the book under review. Left-to-right are examples by Frank Gehry, Sou Fujimoto, and Helmut Jahn. The images shown here have been enlarged from the way that they were originally used by the architects—but the book enlarges them even further, each one covering an entire page.

A REVIEW OF:

An Unfinished …

Encyclopedia of …

Scale Figures without …

Architecture

Edited by Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample, and MOS

www.mitpress.mit.edu

Sometimes, when reviewing the work of architecture students, the teacher (the “design crit”) displays their pet peeve: things that make them “go off” in righteous indignation. Such reactions, to the student and outside observers, may seem out-of-proportion to the alleged offense. Even during public design juries (where you’d think that jurors tempers would be tamped) the anger is sometimes given dramatic play. When Paul Rudolph was chair at Yale’s school of architecture (1958-1965) such scenes were notorious (and Rudolph was sometimes one of the perpetrators.) We asked a Yale graduate, from that era, why he thought such displays were allowed. Was it self-indulgence? Immaturity or anger-management issues? Could be something else? The former student’s speculation was quite interesting: He thought that it was to get the student’s attention. He asserted that a lot of students were already coming to the Master’s program quite mature—at least in the sense of already having worked in architecture, been “out in the world”, maybe even having married and started a family. Some might have been veterans. But with that alleged “maturity” was the danger that their approach to design—both how to do it, and the desired end-results—had already ossified: they were already so filled-up with answers that they weren’t open to new questions (much less alternative answers). Those displays of the teachers and jury members’ anger (yes, sometimes verging on the cruel) were a kind of shock therapy to open up the student, to make them really start listening—and thinking.

The one time we were witness to such a scene was when a student showed a design, and the teacher growled with indignation: “How dare you present a drawing that does not include a scale figure?!!?” Scale figures: you know: those little pictures of people (often rather sketchily drawn) that designers sprinkle around their renderings. To tell you the truth, we’d really never thought much about scale figures before the teacher’s outburst. But (true to the former Yale student’s analysis) it got us thinking.

Scale figures can be inserted into an architectural drawing (generally an elevation, perspective, or section) for a range of reasons—often several simultaneously:

  • Primarily, to give a sense of scale to the proposed design. Without including such figures, the drawings of many designs don’t give a clear indication of their size, whether it be domestic or monumental. [By-the-way: the only other hint of scale, which drawings sometimes give, is if they include stairs (whose risers are presumably sized to allow regular humans to use them, hence giving a notion of the project’s overall size.)]

  • To explain the design:  figures engaging in various activities (corresponding with the programming of the building’s different spaces) help show how the building is supposed to be used, and even how circulation flows.

  • To put the clients in the picture:  It is assumed that, if the person who is commissioning the project is shown drawn within it, that will charm and engage them—making their approval of the design more likely.

  • To show a relation to the community. Similar to the above: when there are many stakeholders in a project, showing groups of figures—the anticipated participants who are to use the building—is an attempt to engage and bring them into understanding the design (and, hopefully, endorsing it.)

  • For artistic completion: just as, for example, grand classical buildings are not considered complete unless they include integral sculpture, some architects and renderers would not consider their drawing complete without figures.

  • To highlight one aspect of the design, or heighten the drama. Schinkel was famous for his superb perspective drawings. Part of their pleasure is noticing some of his figures pointing to an aspect of the building, as though they were exclaiming “Wow, look at this!”

  • The joy of drawing—and the showing off of one’s virtuosity. We suspect Schinkel partook of that too!


[We confess that, as practicing architects, we’ve tried (or indulged in) all of the above.]

One could make a lively compilation of the different graphic devices which architects have used. One could collect North arrows, scale bars, title blocks, or even styles of hand-drafted lettering. Scale figures are a prime subject to start such a collection—but you don’t have to, for MIT Press has published a truly gigantic collection: more than 1,000 examples, by over 250 different architects. They range from the above-mentioned early-19th century Schinkel (and from architects of even greater vintage) to Saarinen (both Eliel and Eero), from Alberti to Ant Farm, from Soane to Studio Gang—yes, a whole encyclopedia’s worth, from Aalto to Zumthor.

This is a bomb of a book: it’s as big and hefty as a giant old “unabridged” dictionary—this is not a volume you’d want to drop on your foot! Organized alphabetically by architect, each figure’s source and date is labeled, so one has at least some sense of what era and project to which it was applied.

The book is huge and wide-ranging—a clearly done out of love of the topic—and the foot-long architect’s scale (shown here with the book) will give you a sense of its scale. We’ve opened it to a spread on which two more of Paul Rudolph’s figures are shown.

The book is huge and wide-ranging—a clearly done out of love of the topic—and the foot-long architect’s scale (shown here with the book) will give you a sense of its scale. We’ve opened it to a spread on which two more of Paul Rudolph’s figures are shown.

But what’s both illuminating and distorting is the size of the scale figures, as reproduced in the book: each is shown big enough to fill a full page. Most such figures would have hardly reached an inch tall—or, more likely, half that—on the original drawing. Moreover, they’d be seen at a fraction of even that size if the drawing was reproduced in a magazine or book. But, as presented in this volume, we’re seeing them at 500-or-600-or-800 percent larger than as first drawn (or maybe more.) As you can imagine, the effect is dramatic: we get to see these fascinating figures with lively vividness and detailed clarity.

Two more examples of scale figures from the book. From left-to-right: Charles and Ray Eames, Paul Rudolph. This an example of one of Rudolph’s famous “squiggle” people (and one of 5 different examples of Rudolph’s figures included in the book.)

But perhaps seeing them this size is a bit problematic: these figures are being viewed at a scale which not even their original architect or renderer ever saw them! Moreover, they are totally isolated from their context: the drawing (and building design) which the figures were to help explain. So, in these vastly enlarged views, the figures might come off as slapdash. But in actual use, they’d be seen to have been carefully chosen, and contextually just-right for the drawing where the figure first resided. Even so, let us consider this a quibble, at least as compared with what’s offered: a vast wealth of examples from across a spectrum of centuries, styles (both architectural and graphic), and practitioners. But wait!—the book offers an additional resource (which would ameliorate even that objection): at the rear, there’s a “Visual Index” where all the figures are brought together, but at a much smaller scale (averaging about 3/4” high). There, one gets to see them not one-per-page, but dozens at a time. This allows for comparison, as well as reinforcing the overall impression that the authors have given us a treasure-trove.

Finally, we want to note the three illuminating texts which set off this amazing collection:

  • “Architects Draw People” - a brief introduction by authors, which sets out the scope of what they were doing, and some intriguing observations about what they found.

  • Fare Buona Figure: Some Remarks on the Scale Figure in Architectural Representation” – by Martino Stierli, the Museum of Modern Art’s Chief Curator of Architecture and Design. As always, Mr. Stierli brings his keen-eye and open intelligence to the topic, delineating the various ways that we might view and interpret the use of scale figures over the centuries.

  • “Go Figure!” –an essay by Raymund Ryan, in which he vividly proclaims “The Figure is Back”—which he then backs-up with wittily sharp comments on some of the most famous users of scale figures.

This fascinating book is available through Amazon; and through the publisher, MIT Press.

Stanley Tigerman (1930-2019)

Vincent Scully and Paul Rudolph (with arms crossed), observing Yale student Stanley Tigerman present his design project. Photograph from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Vincent Scully and Paul Rudolph (with arms crossed), observing Yale student Stanley Tigerman present his design project. Photograph from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

In his recent memoir, Designing Bridges to Burn, Stanley Tigerman recounts that he was already a practicing architect when he applied to Yale’s architecture program in 1958. Paul Rudolph, department chair, sent an application with a note: “I’m sure I’ll live to regret this.” After two years—thrilling for the quality of education he received directly from Rudolph, grueling for the long hours, shortage of funds, tension, and loss of sleep (plus, in addition to his academic load, working part-time in Rudolph’s New Haven office)—Tigerman graduated. He went on to a colorful and prolific career: designing, building, teaching, curating, writing, and highly articulate (and graphic) hell-raising about all aspects of architecture and urbanism [often in association with his professional and life partner, Margaret McCurry.]

In many ways, Tigerman was a model of how effective (and interesting!) an architect’s life could be: outreaching to every facet of practice, theory, history, and activism. He was one of the most energetic and colorful (and creative) figures of architecture’s last half-century—and could always be counted on to weigh-in with an outspoken (if rarely diplomatic) insight on any issue. [Time did not diminish that fire, as can be shown in his recent comments on the future of a controversial building in his own hometown.]

That candidness of opinion extended to his old teacher-employer-friend, Paul Rudolph—something for which we, at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, are particularly grateful. In a tribute to his mentor, written on the occasion of a 1997 memorial exhibit at the Architectural League of New York, Tigerman praised outlined his experience with Rudolph and praised his many virtues—and pointedly offered:

Paul Rudolph is an example of a man whose peers never satisfactorily recognized his capacious career; e.g., he never won the Pritzker Prize, the AIA Gold Medal or the Topaz Award, yet others of equal (or questionable) stature somehow accomplished those very ends. No one who knew Paul Rudolph would debate his well known apolitical inclinations to suffer fools gladly, which in turn may have limited his potential for recognition. No matter: that only brings into question reward systems generally . . . There is a theory that it is far better to be appreciated after death, such that, that one's innocence is left intact during life. If the way in which adherents of this discipline exercised selective amnesia related to Paul Rudolph's accomplishments is an example of that theory, leave me out.

[You can read the full text of Tigerman’s memorial remarks at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s Articles & Writings page, here.]

We mourn the loss of this colleague—an architectural volcano whose stature, like Rudolph’s, will only increase with time and openhearted attention.

Sincerely,

the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Stanley Tigerman 1930-2019. Photograph by Lee Bay, via Wikipedia

Stanley Tigerman 1930-2019. Photograph by Lee Bay, via Wikipedia

PAUL RUDOLPH’S MILAM RESIDENCE: HISTORY & VIEWS OF AN ICON

An “elevation view” (a straight-on shot) of the Milam Residence in Ponte Verda Beach, FL. This photo, of the beach-facing side, was taken in 1962, not long after the building was completed. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor.  Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

An “elevation view” (a straight-on shot) of the Milam Residence in Ponte Verda Beach, FL. This photo, of the beach-facing side, was taken in 1962, not long after the building was completed. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor.

Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

A FASCINATING HOUSE

Our recent article about the Milam Residence went viral—and so we thought it would be good to share some more information about this landmark of 20th century design. Here, we’ll cover two other interesting aspects of the building: the story of its construction, and how the design was received by the architectural and lifestyle press.

BUILDING AN ICON

We asked the Robert C. Champion, the son of the original owner, to tell us about the origin of the project, including the Milam’s relationship with Rudolph. He answered several of our questions:

Q: Do you know anything about the relationship between your parents and Rudolph, and how they found-out about him?

A: My stepfather, Arthur Milam, knew of Rudolph’s work in Sarasota. My stepfather was a graduate of Yale Class 1950. Rudolph became Chair of Yale Architecture in 1958, so they had a common bond. Also my stepfather was a big collector of modern art, so he was interested in an architect and specialized in modern art.

Q: Do you know what “program” they presented to Rudolph (what set of requirements he was asked to fulfill?)

A: My stepfather gave Rudolph free rein to design the house. He did tell him how much square footage and how many bedrooms, but other than that he left the whole creation to Rudolph.

Q: Do you know how the architect-client relationship went with them all? [We’re guessing they got along pretty well, as Rudolph was invited back to do the additions/alterations.]

A: They got along very well as far as I know. My stepfather left the creating to Rudolph.

Q: Did you hear anything about the construction period—for example: stories about things that needed adjusting because of site conditions?

A: Rudolph wanted to build the house in poured concrete and rebar. When they calculated the cost it was very cost prohibitive so they changed it to concrete block with rebar and all concrete poured cells.

Q: Was this a year-round residence—or—primarily a vacation home?

A: It was a year-round residence.

Q: Any reflections of your own, about growing-up in it?

A: It was by far the largest home in north Florida when it was built. Most of the homes on the ocean were second homes and were cottages made out of cedar. So this house really stood out. It was known as the crazy house of rectangles and was labeled so on the fisherman’s map. We had very few neighbors back then. We had one neighbor a half mile to the north and another a half mile to the south.

Mr. Champion’s notes about the Milam’s initial knowledge of Rudolph meshes well with the information in a fascinating document: the National Register of Historic Places’ Registration Form for this building—which is also linked-to on the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s Project Page for this house. The National Register’s document gives a complete history of the site and context---both physical, historical, and cultural—and a detailed description of the building, inside-and-out. It also includes an evaluation of the building’s significance and how it fits into Rudolph’s overall oeuvre, as well as drawings, maps, and photographs.

The building went through several phases:

  • Original state: As designed by Paul Rudolph, for Arthur and Teresa Milam—with the house being occupied at the beginning of the 1960’s.

  • Alterations by Rudolph: Rudolph was brought back more-than-once, by the Milams, to make alterations and/or additions. Their extent is well described in the National Register’s report:

    “After the house was complete, the Milams contacted Paul Rudolph for his design services once again. In the early 1970s, Milam had Rudolph add two ancillary structures on either side of the main house—one for a three car garage and one for a guest house/studio. Rudolph used the same materials and design vocabulary for the new wings. The two original garages, which flanked the house to the north and to the south, have been converted into a dining room (on the north side), and an office (on the south side). The addition, which runs perpendicular to the house on the south side is a guest house/office. The pool is on the west side of a courtyard, with the house on the east facing the ocean. So it fits together around the center courtyard. In 1973, Paul Rudolph designed a smaller addition southwest of the main house that serves as another family room with a downstairs bath and upstairs sleeping loft. A breezeway connects it to the main house. The original south garage was converted into an office, with a folding partition that hides away storage. This alteration connects to the breezeway and does not significantly alter the building’s facade. This alteration is complementary to Rudolph’s design and to his 1973 addition. During the Rudolph addition, phase, Teresa Milam redesigned the original kitchen. These additions and alterations are sympathetic to the overall vision of Paul Rudolph, and are considered to be contributing elements.”

  • Post-Rudolph: After Rudolph’s passing, KBJ Architects (a prominent Florida architectural firm, based in Jacksonville) was asked to add a weight room and an additional garage.

AN INFLUENTIAL DESIGN

Robert Adams Ivy, Jr., the editor of Architectural Record, told Ernst Wagner (founder of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation) that when the Milam Residence was published, it was a powerful and compelling design—and that it influenced a whole generation of architects.

The evidence is strong that this was a remarkable design for it’s time—in that it was widely noted and remarked upon by the editors and writers of architectural and lifestyle publications. Both American and international magazines covered the Milam Residence, either focusing on it individually, or including it as an indicator of larger trends in contemporary architectural design.

Prominent among the magazines which published the house (near the time of its completion) were:

  • Architectural Record (three times)

  • House and Garden

  • Vogue

  • Architectural Design (UK)

  • House and Home

  • Architecture D’aujourd’hui (France)

  • Architettura (Italy)

  • Zodiac (Italy)

The coverage seems to have, near-universally, given praise: either about the house itself, or about it as a representative of positive trends in residential design, or about its architect. Here are some examples:

HOUSE AND HOME:

Their April 1964 issue had an article about Modern trends in home design, “Three Houses WIth Daring New Shapes,” and illustrated it with designs by Eric Defty, John Rex, and Paul Rudolph. The introduction explained their viewpoint—and mentions Rudolph’s house with praise:

“Architecture worthy of the name never leaves the viewer bored. It is dynamic, exciting and often daring because the juxtaposition of shapes and volumes sets up a flow of space related to the textures, patterns and colors in the house. Often, it artfully contrasts a sense of openness with the security feeling of shelter. Too many of today’s houses are familiar, static and so impersonal they hardly qualify as architecture. Not so the houses shown at the right and on the following pages. Architect Paul Rudolph’s beach house in Jacksonville, Fla. has a three dimensional facade of concrete block that spells out the interior arrangement of rooms and floor levels. The working facade—some architectural critics believe it has started a whole new trend in design—is a series of deep squares and rectangles that look out on the sea and shade the interior. Inside the house, seven floor levels follow the pattern of the facade and help define the flow of space.”

The article’s extended captions pointed-out various features of the house’s design:

“Changing levels and varied ceiling heights emphasize the different uses of space in Architect Paul Rudolph’s concrete-block beach house. For example: the floor plane drops to form a big conversation pit in the high-ceilinged living room, then rises two steps in the rear to the open dining room and rises another three steps to an intimate, low-ceilinged inglenook. Space flows smoothly from one area to another.

Plan orients the active living areas and master bedroom to the sea. The basic planning module is the length of a concrete block. View of ocean, seen here from the dining room is framed by deep sun-breaks. The conversation pit is in foreground, the inglenook at right. View of living and dining areas from the inglenook in the foreground shows variety of floor levels and ceiling heights. Moors arc terrazzo. Facade on the sea is a geometric arrangement o f sun-breaks , or brise-soleils , that hint at the interior arrangement of space. Sand-colored concrete-block rectangles are deep enough to shade the interior and help keep the house cool without drapes which would block the magnificent ocean view. The lowest sun- break, at lower left, frames a utility room; the highest make a rooftop lookout — a widow’s walk in a modern idiom.”

House and Home’s article on contemporary examples of residential design had a section on the Milam residence---and it included some atmospheric views.  Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

House and Home’s article on contemporary examples of residential design had a section on the Milam residence---and it included some atmospheric views.

Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

The article’s extended captions pointed-out various features of the house’s design:

“Changing levels and varied ceiling heights emphasize the different uses of space in Architect Paul Rudolph’s concrete-block beach house. For example: the floor plane drops to form a big conversation pit in the high-ceilinged living room, then rises two steps in the rear to the open dining room and rises another three steps to an intimate, low-ceilinged inglenook. Space flows smoothly from one area to another.

Plan orients the active living areas and master bedroom to the sea. The basic planning module is the length of a concrete block. View of ocean, seen here from the dining room is framed by deep sun-breaks. The conversation pit is in foreground, the inglenook at right. View of living and dining areas from the inglenook in the foreground shows variety of floor levels and ceiling heights. Moors arc terrazzo. Facade on the sea is a geometric arrangement of sun-breaks , or brise-soleils , that hint at the interior arrangement of space. Sand-colored concrete-block rectangles are deep enough to shade the interior and help keep the house cool without drapes which would block the magnificent ocean view. The lowest sun- break, at lower left, frames a utility room; the highest make a rooftop lookout — a widow’s walk in a modern idiom.”

VOGUE:

While not an architectural journal, the fashion magazine, Vogue, did supply its readers with news about other trends in contemporary culture---including about architecture. An article, in the magazine’s September 1963 issue, focused on the architect (and showed the Milam residence), and it was titled “Paul Rudolph: Young Mover, Changing The Look Of American Architecture.”

The fashion magazine, Vogue, told its readers about new trends in design, including architecture. This 1963 issue carried an article about Paul Rudolph, and—as part of the article—included the Milam residence.

The fashion magazine, Vogue, told its readers about new trends in design, including architecture. This 1963 issue carried an article about Paul Rudolph, and—as part of the article—included the Milam residence.

ARCHITECTURAL RECORD:

Architectural Record seems to have been especially taken with the house, including it in their pages several times during the decade—and it was honored to be among the designs chosen for their annual Record Houses issue in May 1963.

Architectural Record  included the house in it’s 1963 Record Houses issue. This is the opening page of the article about the house---and the layout featured a photo by Ezra Stoller.  Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

Architectural Record included the house in it’s 1963 Record Houses issue. This is the opening page of the article about the house---and the layout featured a photo by Ezra Stoller.

Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

Architectural Record’s comments are worth quoting at length:

“One of the most uniquely different designs among this year’s Record Houses, is this one with its very sculptural use of concrete block. The exterior of the house is dominated by the powerful composition of rectangles forming a sunshade across the rear facade (shown above i the original sketch and completed structure). The spirit of this wall is continued on the interior of the house, where the floors rearranged on seven different levels. Comments of the owners, after having lived in the house for some time, are worth noting: “We knew enough of Mr. Rudolph’s previous works to know that the end result would correspond to our ideas of beauty . . . (and) our faith in the architect was well placed. We are extremely fond of the house. Externally, it is a beautiful piece of sculpture-blending graciously with the sea and the sand surrounding it. It is very comforting inside ... different ceiling heights, different views, different floor levels make it always interesting, always varied

The house is a very spacious and conveniently arranged one. All the living areas are essentially one room, with areas for dining, sitting by the fireplace, and the like, created principally by changes in the floor levels. The hallway linking the upstairs bedrooms is treated as a balcony, and adds yet another level to this varied space. As a counterfoil, colors and other decoration are subdued. As can be noted in these photos of the Milam house, the already big living areas are made to appear even larger and more open by using very few pieces of portable furniture. In fact, about the only ones are the dining table and its seats. Basic seating for conversation and lounging is formed by cushioned units supported by one of the floor levels. The house is constructed of sand colored concrete block, left exposed inside and out. The main floor is terrazzo, and the second floors are hardwood or carpet except for tile in the bathrooms. Ceilings are acoustical plaster for noise absorption in the big areas. The small windows in the baths are supplemented for daylighting by plastic skylights. One of the baths also has an outside exit and stair to serve as a dressing area for swimmers from the beach. Bedroom closets are provided in the nooks near each entrance. The kitchen is conveniently placed for access to the living and dining areas (via a pass through), to the garage for unloading groceries, and to the front door. The entire house is air conditioned. The cost of the house itself was about $88,074.”

OWNING A MASTERPIECE

If you’re interested in possibly purchasing this distinguished house in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, please contact:

Mr. Robert C. Champion (904) 755-4785 robertchampion@bellsouth.net The asking price is $ 4,450,000

RUDOLPH: THE VIEW FROM AMSTERDAM (AND VICE-VERSA!)

The cover of Volkskrant Magazine—the magazine section of a popular newspaper in the Netherlands. This issue, from 20 April, 2019, included an article about the Modulightor Building in New York

The cover of Volkskrant Magazine—the magazine section of a popular newspaper in the Netherlands. This issue, from 20 April, 2019, included an article about the Modulightor Building in New York

De Volkskrant (Dutch for The People’s Paper) is the third-largest newspaper in the Netherlands, with an approximate circulation of a quarter-million. It is headquartered in Amsterdam, and this year is the centennial of its founding. We are pleased that they recently sent a photographer to do a story about the Modulightor Building, designed by Paul Rudolph. Like many newspapers, it has a magazine section, Volkskrant Magazine, and the story appeared in the magazine’s culture section.

The contents page of Volkskrant Magazine’s culture section featured a photo of the 58th Street front of the Modulightor Building, taken as the day was approaching dusk, and wonderfully lit from within.

The contents page of Volkskrant Magazine’s culture section featured a photo of the 58th Street front of the Modulightor Building, taken as the day was approaching dusk, and wonderfully lit from within.

The story—a four page spread—focused on the interiors of the beautiful Paul Rudolph-designed residential Duplex, which is situated within the Modulightor Building, on the 3rd & 4th floors.

The superb photography was by Els Zweerink, and the text was by Rijk van den Broek. Here are some views of those spreads.

If you’d like to read the article on Volkskrant’s website (in Dutch)—and get a better view of these wonderful photographs—you can see the full article here:

https://www.volkskrant.nl/de-gids/planten-en-plexiglas-brengen-een-oase-van-rust-in-het-midden-van-de-stad~b3864e92/

You might say that’s Amsterdam’s view of Rudolph’s work—or at least one of his projects. But our readers might also be interested in Rudolph’s view of Amsterdam!

As far as we can tell, Rudolph didn’t keep a sketchbook: he doesn’t seem to have organized his drawings in such a way. When asked about this, one of his former staff members said when Rudolph wanted to explain something with a drawing, he’d just grab any piece of paper that was at-hand. From what we’ve seen in the archives, that’s very true: he’d use a great range of paper types, formats, and sizes,—from large vellum sheets to scraps. We even just ran across a standard oaktag file folder, filled with business papers---on which he’d drawn a tiny, intriguing sketch of a floor plan.

But, Rudolph did, at least for a while, use a system of tall, slender notepads—the type sized to be convenient for slipping into a suit jacket’s inside pocket.

In our files, we were pleased to discover across several such pads as that—one one of them had some marvelous observations on Amsterdam, written by Rudolph during a trip to Europe in the mid-1980s.

We are glad to share them below.

[Note: The titles, capitalization, underling and spelling follow the way that Rudolph marked-down his notes.]

AMSTERDAM

LIGHT    

The most striking thing about Amsterdam is its light. It starts with the most precious of all reflected light from Amsterdam’s relationship to the sea & the introduction of canals into the city itself. Reflected light softens the shadows by illuminating them with a glorious diffusion of light. This is more apparent in Amsterdam than in most cities because the canals permeate the entire city as if light reflecting shafts (the canals) were there not only to serve transportation needs but to illuminate the shadows of the whole city.

Light in Dutch paintings has always been a preoccupation. Rembrandt’s handling of light relates him to Holland, but of course, he also transcends it. Sensitivity to light can be seen on the Princes Highway when traveling south to Rotterdam. The highway is covered with a structure to accommodate the Amsterdam highway. The transition from light to dark is accommodated by a series of vertical side louvers (also used to shield car lights from the opposite direction, but most uniquely by the use of overhead horizontal louvers to ease the transition.

GEOMETRY

This soft light of Amsterdam has to lead an emphasis on geometry in the buildings themselves, but also to the series of concentric rings which constitute the city plan. Of course, the plan of Amsterdam was developed for reasons of security, to obtain landfill, and to recognize its great port. The man-made, geometrical quality of Amsterdam emphasizes the fact that it was made by man.

The concentric rings of Amsterdam’s canals give it a picturesque character since the concentric rings of water constantly lead one’s eye around the curve to disappearing canals. There is no ax[i]s as in Paris where buildings are focal points for relatively short street vistas, the outcome of Haussmann’s great efforts.

It is a characteristic of Amsterdam that its buildings invariably face the canals directly, almost never recognizing their concentric relationship to each other. Neither do they recognize the vista down the canals. Those vistas, most apparent from the bridges crossing the canals, are a great source of Amsterdam’s immense environment[al] pleasure. Party walls, fire laws, and the use of load-bearing construction explain much of the concentration of buildings facing the canals and ignoring vistas, but it does not completely explain the phenomenon. It is noteworthy that the canals do not vary in width very much. Therefore important buildings do not gain importance from the development of canals, but a church, for instance, merely faces the canal with no forecourt or additional space allotted to it.

Of course, every possible use is made of the site since the land us at a great premium, & civic outdoor space is at a premium in Amsterdam. It does occur at governmental buildings, at the palace, and at the cathedral, but at this expense of the benign effects of the water. It is as if the presence of the water is resented by the occupants of Amsterdam. One cannot help but speculate that one day the canals will be filled in to accommodate parking and the entire character of Amsterdam will be changed.

The geometry of Amsterdam extends to its individual buildings, with great emphasis on the rectangular. One cannot help Mondrian, the De Stijl group and Rietveld came to their unique art in a very natural way. They abstracted what was around them, and in this sense, their work could have only come from Amsterdam.

It was astounding to see immediately outside this “American Hotel” a simple wood structure supporting a sign in relationship to a pier at the canal. It could have been a Rietveld since everything was reduced to a series of rectangles. Most surprising of all was the clarity of the structure, made clear to all by the extension of the framing members at the various joints. It was, of course, merely a vernacular utilitarian structure, but it could have been done by Rietveld.

CONCRETE HEROES: SAVING THE MONUMENTS OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE

A review of:

CONCRETE: CASE STUDIES IN CONSERVATION PRACTICE

Edited by Catherine Croft and Susan Macdonald with Gail Ostergren
Conserving Modern Heritage series of the The Getty Conservation Institute
www.getty.edu/publications

These images, from “Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice,” are from the chapter about concrete restoration at Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille.

Buildings are like human bodies: over time, things happen to them—generally not good things….Even when Modern architects had the best intentions, and relied on what they thought was forward-looking and scientifically derived construction methods, the “bodies” of Modern buildings are showing their age. Some repairs are easier than others: one can re-plaster or re-apply stucco without too much trouble. But some are head-scratchers, as when, during renovation, one finds that the original architect used a product that is no longer available. That happened when renovating a famous mid-century Modern house: a plastic corrugated panel (of a type popular in that era) was not made any more—leading to an expensive custom order. But among all the materials that present themselves for repair, concrete—especially exposed concrete as used in some of Modernism’s most iconic works—is among the most difficult to work with.

We’re all familiar with classic views of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation at Marseille—truly an icon of Modern architecture—but what of the reality when moisture has seeped below the surface and corroded the reinforcing, and parts of the surface have flaked off? Can it be repaired? [And by “repair”, we don’t just mean excising and replacing broken or decayed areas, but rather making the repair blend-in as much as possible, so that it does not look like a carelessly done patch. ]

Moreover, concrete buildings have their own special issues. When moisture reaches reinforcing, it not only leads to spalling (as the rusting steel expands), but also possibly undermines the structure itself—with serious consequences for the building’s integrity. Dirt from the atmosphere and streaks from flowing water adhere to concrete’s subtly fissured surfaces… Well, there’s no need to go on, as the indictments against aging concrete are already part of the pro-and-anti Modern architecture discourse—and particularly when discussing works that have been characterized as “Brutalist” [A term, by-the-way, which we dispute—but that’s another discussion.] Since a significant portion of Paul Rudolph’s oeuvre used exposed concrete—beautifully and artistically, we contend—we are naturally concerned about repair issues and techniques.

“Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice” is a fascinating new book that offers hope and tangibly useful information on the repair of concrete architecture. They do it via case studies—and oh what “cases” they show: some of the most famous buildings of the Modern era!

Among their 14 case studies are:

  • Unité d’habitation by Le Corbusier

  • Brion Cemetery by Carlo Scarpa

  • New York Hall of Science by Harrison and Abramovitz

  • Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, Yale, by Eero Saarinen

  • Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Pampulha by Oscar Niemeyer

  • “Untitled,” an artwork by Donald Judd

Each had its own problems, and the many authors (34 contributors in all) show the unique issues of the buildings, the solutions proposed and executed—and, finally, the superb, fresh results of their ministrations.

Did we say that the book is beautiful? One doesn’t usually expect technically-oriented studies to be visually attractive but this volume shows it can be done. The writers and editors (with Getty’s book designer for this project, Jeffrey Cohen) have assembled a wealth of good photographs (many in color), intriguing drawings (some vintage, and may newly created), and vivid diagrams—and put them together in a way that is inviting. Each case/chapter’s text clearly describes the various teams’ approaches to their building, their careful investigations, their considerations in choosing which techniques were to be used, and the consequences. Yet, while fully informative, the amount of detail is not overloaded, and can be readily digested by the interested reader. We wish more architecture/construction-science books were so appealingly and richly communicative.

There is nothing as convincing as “before and after.” This book shows a multiplicity of projects—differing in their problems, sizes, scales, locations, and building types. It makes abundantly clear that, however grim and despair-inducing concrete repair problems can be, there are effective, creative, rigorous techniques for resolving them. Bravo to the authors and editors of this fine book—and to the Getty Conservation Institute for bringing it forth. We look forward to future volumes in their Conserving Modern Heritage series.

Milam Residence - with beach restored - put back on the market in time to celebrate NATIONAL PRESERVATION MONTH

It doesn’t get more “classic Rudolph” than this: the Milam Residence’s beach-facing elevation. The house is located in Ponte Verda Beach, FL, and this striking view was taken in January, 1962, one year after its completion. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor. Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

It doesn’t get more “classic Rudolph” than this: the Milam Residence’s beach-facing elevation. The house is located in Ponte Verda Beach, FL, and this striking view was taken in January, 1962, one year after its completion. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor. Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

Human beings are, for the most part, naturally acquisitive beings: if we see something desirable, we want it - to hold it, to keep it, to own it, and - hopefully - to protect it. There’s no shame in that yearning - it’s a response built into us, a product of our evolution. How much the better when our eyes and tastes are attracted to excellence: when our desires are for things of the greatest beauty, elegance, and high achievement. Well, you can now fulfill that thirst in the domain of architecture: one of Paul Rudolph’s most important homes - a true “signature” work - is now available.

The Milam Residence in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, by Paul Rudolph, was completed at the beginning of the 1960’s, and instantly became one of - maybe the - paradigm image of what great, Modern, American residential architecture could be. And no wonder: Rudolph’s design elegantly combines:

  • visual richness, via a celebration of geometry

  • striking clarity in composition

  • functional rigor in planning

  • sensible response to the environment’s potential for creating intense solar gain and glare

  • a diversity of spaces which allow for varied uses—and a relaxed-but-elegant way-of-living

  • a practical approach to construction

  • superb siting along an attractive beach

Rudolph commented on his design:

“A composition of considerable spatial variety with vertical and horizontal interpenetration of spaces clearly defined inside and out. Gone are the earlier notions of organization through regular structure with subdivisions of space freely spaced. Spatial organization has taken the place of purely structural organization. Floors and walls are extended in elaborated forms toward the views, thereby making of the facade a reflection of the interior space. The brises-soleil also serve as mullions for the glass, turning the exterior wall into a series of deep openings filled only with glass. The exceptional wild Florida site 60 ft. above the Atlantic Ocean is a counterfoil to the geometry of the structure.” [Paul Rudolph quoted in: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. New York: Praeger, 1970]

The family of Arthur W. Milam, who originally commissioned the building, have been owner-residents since the building was finished, and have cared for it with pride. Now, they are making the building available - and they are hoping that the next owner will be struck by the building’s many beauties and virtues, as well as understanding its importance as a work of truly great Modern architecture.

The Milam family has also been doing some site restoration: installing a new retaining wall along the beach. This stabilizes the beautiful terrain which ascends up to the house.

A new retaining wall has been installed, stabilizing the terrain on the beach-side of the house. Photo: courtesy of the Milam family.

A new retaining wall has been installed, stabilizing the terrain on the beach-side of the house. Photo: courtesy of the Milam family.

This could allow the next owner the option to build decks and/or stairs, as needed, upon the site—perhaps ones like Rudolph himself envisioned in his superb drawings of the house:

Paul Rudolph’s drawing of the Milam Residence’s site plan, and his perspective of the beach side of the house. They show his proposed design for stairs and platforms: they would elegantly cascade from the house, down the dunes, towards the beach below. Drawings: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

You can learn more about the Milam House (and see more images) at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s project page for this building.

Interested? As William F. Buckley once said “I cannot imagine that anyone who has the money will put off the purchase …; or that anyone who hasn’t the money will put off borrowing to buy…” We endorse such enthusiasm for excellence—and we’ll be happy to put you in-touch with the owner. Just contact us via our email at office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

AN OCCASION FOR CELEBRATION

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources.

We are happy to note the Milam Residence is on that distinguished list. It achieved that status in 2016, and you can see their official page on the house here—and their extensive and deeply researched report on the house here.

It is always a good time to celebrate Paul Rudolph—and the combination of Preservation Month and news of the restored beachfront at the Milam Residence is a double-treat.

Rudolph Reimagined: A New York Family’s Reworking of an Iconic Rudolph Interior

“It’s pretty darn original,” Carolyn Rowan says with a beaming smile as she shows me into the living room of her family’s stunning apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; and indeed it is. Described by Ms. Rowan as a “labor of love,” her apartment’s interior is one of particular note for more than purely aesthetic reasons. Redesigned for banker Maurits Edersheim and his wife Claire in 1970 from its original 1917 form, the interior of the 5th-floor apartment is a noted example of Paul Rudolph’s interior works.

When Ms. Rowan and her husband, Marc—longtime residents of the 6th floor—purchased the apartment, they made a promise to Claire Edersheim, who often spoke about how she and Maurits “built the apartment with Rudolph,” that it would remain largely unaltered and that she and her husband would do little to mar or obscure Rudolph’s mastery. The end result of this promise, which was lovingly undertaken with the assistance of noted interior designer Tony Ingrao, is a sleek and retro space that, while more contemporary, retains the Rudolphian whimsy that makes it so unique.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com above an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The heart of Rudolph’s vision remains, but in an updated form. Original 1970’s features like track lighting have been supplanted by more modern fixtures, and features like the unique “u” shaped couch, which the Rowans remade in the exact same footprint as the one Ms. Edersheim took with her when she sold the unit, has been reupholstered in a more muted fabric.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com above an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

Unfortunately, many Rudolph interiors are lost, razed by later homeowners who lack a knowledge of his significance or an appreciation of his works, which is why it’s important to emphasize renovations like the one undertaken by the Rowan family. As pictured above, the Rowans’ transformed the office space from its original seventies feel to one that was better suited to their own taste, while retaining Rudolph’s couch, desk, stair-shelves, and ceiling decoration.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Genevieve Garruppo courtesy of Tony Ingrao Design’s Intagram

The Rowan renovation shows how an owner of a Rudolph property or interior can still allow for Rudolph’s details to shine through, like the mirrored walls and kidney-shaped sofa seen above.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The hallway, pictured above, received the most changes — however, Rudolph’s design is still present in the sloping walls that punctuate the center right of the hallway, which was once the playroom of the Edersheim children (and is now a foyer that leads to the second story of the Rowan duplex).

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The dining room, seen above, has been repainted in an airy white, and retains the original Paul Rudolph dining table, which cleverly breaks apart into three smaller, circular tables whose connecting leaves fold neatly under the shelving unit against the wall. Though bereft of the delft pottery it was made to showcase, the unique feature wall Rudolph designed still remains in its original form.

Pictured: A before shot provided by Carolyn Rowan next to an after shot taken by Ethan Shapiro

It isn’t easy to be the steward of an iconic property, especially one full of original architectural details. Luckily, there are sensitive owners like the Rowan Family who value such a property and have, throughout their four-year-long renovation, kept the heart and soul of Rudolph alive in their space. Right down to the last mirrored wall pane.

A ROOM FULL OF RUDOLPH: ARCHITECTURE STUDENTS DISCOVER PAUL RUDOLPH’S MODULIGHTOR BUILDING (AND SO MUCH MORE!)

Five sophomore design studios - nearly 70 students in all - at the City College of New York’s School of Architecture, all utilized Paul Rudolph’s MODULIGHTOR BUILDING as a focus for their design studies during the Spring 2019 semester. The drawing, shown here, is but one example of the very many exciting investigations conducted by the students. The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation facilitated the students’ work, and were also invited as jurors for their final presentations. Photo of drawing: by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Photo of Modulightor Building : copyright by Annie Schlechter, from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

CAN RUDOLPH BE “TAUGHT”?

Johann Sebastian Bach was a composer greatly loved by Paul Rudolph (and Bach was the composer most frequently played by Rudolph, a life-long pianist.) As the culmination of the Baroque period, it has been said that “All roads lead to Bach—but none lead from him.” That seems true of Bach: towering genius that he was, the Baroque seems to terminate with him, and “followers” - if any - are but footnotes. Similar things have been said - indeed accused - of a variety of architects: those who have a special style, or a unique way of problem-solving, or virtuoso skills - but for whom it seems that no authentic “school” could follow and be nourished by the model architect’s oeuvre. Such a charge has been brought against Sullivan, Gaudi, Wright and, yes, even Paul Rudolph.

Yet Rudolph was a well-known educator: as Chair of Yale’s School of Architecture from 1958 to 1965, he truly re-molded the school, via his mark on the curriculum, selection of faculty, and personal presence. As a teacher, he had - at least according to their own testimony - a decisive effect on his students. Rudolph explicitly claimed that in his own work he was expressing strongly held opinions and prejudices - but when it came to guiding students, he sought to not impose his formal vocabulary, but rather to impart general principles and help the student clarify their own ideas. Since his students seem to have gone in the most diverse directions - not becoming “little Rudolphs” - that seems evidence for his non-directional claim.

Paul Rudolph with architecture students in the Yale Art & Architecture Building, giving a “desk crit” in 1963. Photo: copyright Ezra Stoller

Paul Rudolph with architecture students in the Yale Art & Architecture Building, giving a “desk crit” in 1963. Photo: copyright Ezra Stoller

But can anything useful to students - something more than even the most timeless principles of architecture & place making - be distilled from Rudolph’s work? And can that be applied to architectural education today?

A RUDOLPHIAN ADVENTURE IN EDUCATION

Students at the City College of New York’s School of Architecture answer: YES!

The students - all five sophomore studios, comprising nearly 70 students - spent the Spring semester on a set of projects which focused on (and were inspired by) Paul Rudolph’s Modulightor Building. The term’s work comprised 4 investigations and sets of interrelated results:

  • Near the beginning of the term, all students visited the building (sometimes several times!) exploring it, recording it via measured drawings and photography, and studying documents about the building’s construction and evolution (both its as-built incarnation, as well as versions Rudolph envisioned for its development.) This information was distilled into drawings and models.

  • They were also introduced to Rudolph’s chair (which they got to see - and sit on! - during their visit). This they each documented in carefully drafted drawings, analyzed in different ways - and then transformed into an individual concept which they presented as a model.

  • Analyzing the Modulightor Building was the student’s next focus. Some chose the façade, while others chose aspects of the interior organization, or Rudolph’s handling of light, or the geometric rigor of his planning, or the richness of his sectional compositions, or some other aspect.

  • Finally, they were to take an aspect of Rudolph’s work - particularly from the Modulightor Building, but also looking at his overall oeuvre - and use that to design an ice cream stand. They were not to just copy a part of the building, nor were they instructed to directly emulate Rudolph’s style. Rather, they were to find in Rudolph’s work “generative devices” which would inspire and nourish their projects. An ice cream stand may seem a rather pedestrian program, but it’s important to remember that early in his career, Rudolph proposed more-than-one design for such buildings. That’s something we featured in a previous blog which you can read here. Moreover, Rudolph never exhibited any snobbery about the types of projects he’d take on (something we quite admire.)

The sophomore year’s choice to engage with the Modulightor Building is a consequence of the work of Eduardo Andres Alfonso. Prof. Alfonso was the coordinator-curator for the two exhibits that the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation mounted in 2018 for Rudolph’s centenary - and so he was well-familiar with the building. His proposal for using this fascinating and complex Rudolph building - one that was also geographically accessible to the students - was accepted by his co-instructors, and the PRHF was very willing to give the school access to our facilities and historical documentation.

But what was the result of all this work - these students’ design investigations and creations?

ENTER THE JURY

On Thursday, May 9th , 2019, the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation was invited to participate in the end- of-semester jury of the students’ work. Kelvin Dickinson, the Foundation’s president, and Seth Joseph Weine, head of research, trekked up to the City College of New York’s Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture building on Manhattan’s 135th Street. Upon entering we were directed to a large atrium at the center of the building: the site of that day’s jury. It is a spacious, light-filled room, several stories tall, and dramatically crossed—at its upper reaches—by suspended catwalks.

City College’s School of Architecture building’s central atrium: a view from above, Showing the students work being set up (just prior to the beginning of the end-of-semester jury.) Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

City College’s School of Architecture building’s central atrium: a view from above, Showing the students work being set up (just prior to the beginning of the end-of-semester jury.) Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

In this space we were met with an exciting clamor: dozens of students were putting up drawings and placing models on the four sides of the atrium (with the drawings sometimes reaching up nearly a dozen feet) and the various design studio teachers were trying to put all this into a presentable order.

The final stages of getting the students’ work ready for the jury to see. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

The final stages of getting the students’ work ready for the jury to see. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

When things had settled a bit, the jurors - there were several for each studio - were invited to view the building models, meet their authors, and learn about what tactic each had taken. For ourselves, so thoroughly infused with the Modulightor Building in which we have our offices, this display of various approached the students had taken was like seeing the building with fresh eyes.

Several examples of the models which were on display at the beginning of the session. Each team took a different approach to making their model of the Modulightor Building - and to highlighting a fresh aspect of its design. Photos: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Each student team (they worked in pairs on the models) had seen & analyzed the building in a different way: via geometry, or with different materials, or by cutting a section on a different line, or by highlighting a diversity of aspects of Rudolph’s vision. It felt like a Modulightor Building design banquet.

One team’s model, used by them to analyze the building. In this example, the student team constructed the model so that the front façade could be removed. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

One team’s model, used by them to analyze the building. In this example, the student team constructed the model so that the front façade could be removed. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

THE JURY JUDGES

Jurors were asked to gather in front to the student work of the particular studio which had invited them. Then each student made a presentation and the jurors responded.

With drawings reaching way up the walls, that added to the drama of the graphic aspect of the student’s presentations. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

With drawings reaching way up the walls, that added to the drama of the graphic aspect of the student’s presentations.
Photo: Kelvin Dickinson for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

It’s important to remember that, in architecture school juries, the juror is not there to determine the student’s grade [that’s the responsibility of their studio teacher - their design “crit”]. Instead, the job of each juror is to look (and listen) very carefully to what the student is presenting, and to offer reactions. The offered responses might be additional layers of interpretation to their work, or bringing up questions that the student could further consider, or references to buildings or writings they would profit by examining, or pointing out things about their design the student hadn’t even noticed they were doing - or outlining where the project could productively go (or didn’t).

The quality of the students’ work - the commitment they express - can often be discerned from the involvement of the jurors. Our experience, of the over-a-dozen students we juried that day, was one of intense focus.

Photo:  Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

It’s an old question:

The jurors speak. The jurors make deep, discerning, poetic, philosophical, pedagogical, and practical suggestions and observations. But in the face of these opinions, how can one evaluate how well each student did?

A key thing to look for is engagement:  Did the student’s work draw the jury in, provoking discussion, generating questions, and opening up new paths of investigation?

To judge by what we saw - and vigorously participated in - these students did very well indeed: the jury seemed so engaged in each project that it was hard to apply the brakes. Again-and-again, the teacher had to urge us jurors to stop and go on to the next student’s work (so that the jury’s time was fairly divided and each student would get a good  share of their attention.)

We were delighted with the work shown: the student’s intense focus on the Modulightor Building’s many layers, their intelligent analysis, and the creative paths they took as a result of their immersion in Rudolph.

Below is a selection of images of student work, presented on that exciting day. Congratulations to everyone on such fine work!

“GOD IS IN THE DETAILS” (AT LEAST IN RUDOPH’S DETAILS)

Spatial power: Paul Rudolph’s analytical drawing of his Tuskegee Chapel.  Image: Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division

Spatial power: Paul Rudolph’s analytical drawing of his Tuskegee Chapel.

Image: Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division

Mies van der Rohe’s most famous saying is“God is in the details.” Of course, Mies was referring to the profound importance of carefully designed, well-considered, and fully-studied detailing in a building or object. Part of the criteria is not just whether a construction detail handles minimal practical needs (i.e.: “keep out the rain”)—but rather: the immense impact that even the smallest architectural details can have on the experience of a building (or an interior, or a piece of furniture.)

Does Mies’ exhortation about details actually have religious implications? And does it have such implications for Mies’ own architecture (and those practicing in a similar mode)? Those questions have been debated for a long time and are hard to answer, especially since Mies and other Modern architects have been relatively silent, or enigmatic, or maybe just un-committed about their spiritual inclinations.

When it comes to a spiritual interpretation of Mies’ famous saying, our best hypothesis is that Mies and his coterie believed that a superbly designed work-of-architecture (which, of course, would have very fine details) can bring forth experiences of transcendence: something akin to religious states. Well, that’s hardly to be wondered at, as such power is inherent in truly great works of art. Indeed, whether a work-of-art has that transcendence-inducing power (or not) is one of the ways we define its greatness (or lack thereof).Note well—and this is key—that we consider[some] architecture to be works-of-art, and hence open to this sort of assessment. We don’t know much about Paul Rudolph’s religious thoughts or feelings. He was the son of a minister, and Rudolph recounts that seeing his father engage with an architect (on a church that was to be built) was a key influence on his wanting to go into architecture. Some of Rudolph’s most interesting designs are for religious buildings—indeed, church, chapel, and synagogue projects punctuate his career. Here’s a drawing of a lesser-known project by him from 1956, a church for Siesta Key, Florida:

Rudolph’s perspective drawings of a design for the St. Boniface Episcopal Church, a 1956 project for Siesta Key, Florida. Image: Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division

Rudolph’s perspective drawings of a design for the St. Boniface Episcopal Church, a 1956 project for Siesta Key, Florida. Image: Paul Rudolph Archive, Library of Congress – Prints and Photographs Division

And Rudolph’s Tuskegee Chapel truly helped anchor his fame:

The interior of Paul Rudolph’s Tuskegee Chapel, at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. It was constructed between 1967 and 1969, and is one of his half-dozen most well-known designs. Photo:G. E. Kidder Smith Image Collection, MIT Libraries

The interior of Paul Rudolph’s Tuskegee Chapel, at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. It was constructed between 1967 and 1969, and is one of his half-dozen most well-known designs. Photo:G. E. Kidder Smith Image Collection, MIT Libraries

While Rudolph’s half-century career extended until his passing in 1997—and he was prolific to the end—his Cannon Chapel at Emory University, from 1975, was one of the last major non-residential works that he completed in the US:

Paul Rudolph’s Interior perspective-rendering of his  Cannon Chapel , at Emory University. This commission may have been very meaningful to Rudolph: his father, Reverend Keener Rudolph, was in Emory theology school’s first graduating class. Image: This original pen & ink drawing is in the collection of Ernst Wagner, Founder of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s Interior perspective-rendering of his Cannon Chapel, at Emory University. This commission may have been very meaningful to Rudolph: his father, Reverend Keener Rudolph, was in Emory theology school’s first graduating class. Image: This original pen & ink drawing is in the collection of Ernst Wagner, Founder of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Cannon Chapel features a prominent tower-like fin, whose major symbolic motif is a cross. But Rudolph’s approach is different: instead of the cross-as-object (which is typical of almost all church buildings), he renders that cross as cut-out of the fin’s stonework, creating a cross-shaped opening. So that cross, with the sun shining through, is an embodiment of light—a highly spiritual interpretation, in architectural form. Moreover, the light and shadow effect(on the building’s adjacent surfaces) is quite striking:

Part of the exterior of Emory’s Cannon Chapel. Image: Emory University

Part of the exterior of Emory’s Cannon Chapel. Image: Emory University

Even though the building’s primary symbolism is Christian, the building is used by a quite diverse range of the campus’ religious groups. Here’s a passage, describing that, from a 2001 issue of Emory Magazine: an article titled “Cannon Chapel: Twenty Years of Shared Sacred Space.”

Cannon Chapel is the center of religious observances on campus for a variety of denominations and religious groups. About fifteen hundred students attend official worship services each month. “Emory claims grounding in a faith tradition, and religious and spiritual life remains a foundational root of the University,” Henry-Crowe says. “And it is appreciated.” In any given week the chapel’s sanctuary, which seats 480, might be host to an ecumenical worship service, a Roman Catholic mass, an Emory Zen Buddhist group meditation, and a Jewish High Holy Days service. “We have diversity within diversity,” Henry-Crowe says of the thirty religious groups represented on Emory’s Interfaith Council. “The genius of the building is that it is built to be an interfaith space. No symbols are immovable.”

This is not the only case of one building being able to serve various religious groups—indeed, there is a study of how such religious space-sharing can work (and the accommodations that need to be made, to try to have that succeed). Apropos this, for Emory’s Cannon Chapel, it’s that article’s last line which intrigues us: “No symbols are immovable.” What’s that about? It turns out that the reference is quite literal. In the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, we came across an interesting construction detail [a godly detail?] This is a sheet from the construction drawings of Rudolph’s Cannon Chapel:

Construction detail drawing, from the set of drawings done by Paul Rudolph and his office for the Cannon Chapel at Emory University. This drawing, sheet number D-1, is dated 1981, and the title is: “Portable Cross & Portable Menorah Details.” [And below are some close-up views of portions of this drawing.]  Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Construction detail drawing, from the set of drawings done by Paul Rudolph and his office for the Cannon Chapel at Emory University. This drawing, sheet number D-1, is dated 1981, and the title is: “Portable Cross & Portable Menorah Details.” [And below are some close-up views of portions of this drawing.]

Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

As you can see in the details shown above, flexibility was built into Emory’s Cannon Chapel, so that it could be used by various denominations.

While the ability to change key symbolic elements (in a shared sacred structure) is a good idea, it takes serious thinking to determine how that’s to be carried out: it’s not easy to design that kind of flexibility and have it be simultaneously buildable, fit within the budget, and ongoingly practical to use. Here, at Emory, it shows that Rudolph really cared about those details.

A LUMINOUS PHOTOGRAPHER: JOE POLOWCZUK

The Modulightor Building, on 58th street in New York City, designed by Paul Rudolph. Joe Polowczuk’s photograph, taken as evening was coming on—what he poetically calls “the blue hour”—shows the building glowing from within.

The Modulightor Building, on 58th street in New York City, designed by Paul Rudolph. Joe Polowczuk’s photograph, taken as evening was coming on—what he poetically calls “the blue hour”—shows the building glowing from within.

Architecture and photography have had a long relationship—maybe the longest: the three prime candidates for the world’s first photograph are a streetscape (in which buildings are sharply prominent); a roofscape; or a still-life which includes architectural fragments or castings of ornament.

Of course, photography and Modern architecture are even more intimate: from the very beginnings of Modernism, its advocates have used dramatically composed photographs to spread the gospel, publicize, and persuade. Indeed, a number of architectural photographers have themselves become legendary (at least within the architectural community). Some of the most prominent examples would be: Ezra Stoller, G. E. Kidder Smith, Julius Shulman, and Yukio Fukazawa. Also, a number of distinguished Modern architects and designers have shown a personal passion for photography, getting behind the camera themselves - and that would include Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, László Moholy-Nagy, and Le Corbusier.

Joe Polowczuk is in that great tradition: A trained architect, who has been working in New York for the past 20 years, he explains that he

“… naturally gravitated towards documenting the built environment for my own projects and other design peers. I strive to provide the finest images for my clients using a keen eye for composition, and the most up to date technical methods available with digital imaging.”

He won a distinguished award in 2012: the New York City Landmarks Conservancy, Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, for his work on the Banner Building (in New York’s NoHo Historic District.)

His design-oriented photography includes work that includes both architecture and interiors (offices, residential, hospitality, and retail). He has also caught the most beautiful images of moving water and of surfing (his main non-architectural pleasure, he admits!)

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation was so impressed with Joe Polowczuk’s work that we commissioned him photograph our headquarters building - the Modulightor Building - and also make photographs of the Paul Rudolph-designed chair [which the Foundation is now reproducing, using Rudolph’s original dimensions & details, and offering to interested collectors - see: https://www.paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org/shop/paul-rudolph-rolling-armchair

To see works from Joe Polowczuk’s luminous portfolio, you can visit his website:

https://www.joepolowczuk.com/

and his Instagram page:

https://www.instagram.com/jpolowczuk_photography/

But, for this moment, you might enjoy these works of Joe’s:

MIES & RUDOLPH: A MYSTERY—SOLVED!

At the upper-left is a photo of Mies van der Rohe, taken during in 1958 during a review of student work at Yale.    Image: The picture, by James Righter, is as shown on a spread from “Pedagogy and Place” by Robert A. M. Stern and Jimmy Stamp—the authoritative book on the history of the architecture program at Yale.

At the upper-left is a photo of Mies van der Rohe, taken during in 1958 during a review of student work at Yale.

Image: The picture, by James Righter, is as shown on a spread from “Pedagogy and Place” by Robert A. M. Stern and Jimmy Stamp—the authoritative book on the history of the architecture program at Yale.

The great architect, Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), surrounded by students—and, among them, the already distinguished Phyllis Lambert. But what was the occasion and setting?—and whose arm it that, coming from the photo’s left edge?     The Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) did some work on the photo, and the sliver of a face at the upper-left (the owner of that mysterious arm) began to become clearer.    Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation archives, with grateful acknowledgment for the photographic enhancement work done by the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA).

The great architect, Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), surrounded by students—and, among them, the already distinguished Phyllis Lambert. But what was the occasion and setting?—and whose arm it that, coming from the photo’s left edge? The Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA) did some work on the photo, and the sliver of a face at the upper-left (the owner of that mysterious arm) began to become clearer.

Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation archives, with grateful acknowledgment for the photographic enhancement work done by the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA).

LOST—AND FOUND

Things get lost: keys, glasses, papers, treasure…. Particularly the kind of papers that are, themselves, “treasures”: documents that give us insight into a historical situation, or proof of an extraordinary occurrence, of photos that establish a significant connection.

In the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, we recently came across such a treasure: a tiny, vintage, color snapshot—the image size being no bigger than a couple of inches across. The scene shows the great Modern architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, seated at the right side of a table. Behind him are several figures—students, we believe—and one of them is Phyllis Lambert. [Phyllis Lambert has made many profound contributions to architecture—not the least of which was to move her family to select Mies to design the Seagram Building. Later, she went on to attend architecture school, practice architecture, and found the great Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA).]

In front of Mies, on that table, is a drawing—and, reaching out from the left side of the photo is an arm, pointing to the drawing.

But whose arm? And where and under what circumstances was the photo taken? And what’s all this got to do with Rudolph?

We decided to investigate! But—before we reveal what we contend are the answers—it’s worth reviewing a few Mies-Rudolph connections.

MIES AND RUDOLPH

In one of our earlier posts, “The Seagram Building—By Rudolph?” we wrote about how Rudolph was—very briefly—on the list of the many architects that were considered for the Seagram Building. And in another post, “Paul Rudolph: Designs for Feed and Speed,” we showed both Mies’s and Rudolph’s comparable designs for highway/roadside restaurants.

We were also intrigued to learn that Paul Rudolph had been asked to be Mies’s successor at IIT! This is mentioned in “Pedagogy and Place” by Robert A. M. Stern and Jimmy Stamp, the grand history of Yale’s architecture program. That information-packed volume covers a century of architectural education, 1916-2016—and includes a large chapter devoted to the era when Rudolph was chair of the Architecture department (1958-1965).

The book relates:

Yet even before the Yale appointment, Rudolph was so respected as an architect-teacher, despite his youth, that in 1955 he was asked to succeed Mies van der Rohe as head of the architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Rudolph did initially agree to take the position, but a few weeks later withdrew. It’s tantalizing to muse about what might have happened to mid-century architectural culture—especially in America—had he gone ahead to become head of ITT’s program. [One thing for sure: there would have been no Yale Art & Architecture Building—and the world would have been deprived of one of the greatest of Modern architectural icons.]

MIES’S VISIT TO YALE

At the age of 39, Paul Rudolph received his appointment to become chair of Yale’s architecture school and took office in 1958—a very young age, in that era, for such a position. One of the ways that he began to energize the school was to bring in a great diversity of instructors and guest critics (“jurors”)—and the book lists names of the many luminaries that he invited to the school: practitioners, teachers, and historians that were either already famous, or would later become so. Among them: James Stirling, Philip Johnson, Peter Smithson, Alison Smithson, Reyner Banham, Bernard Rudolfky, Ulrich Franzen, Edward Larrabee Barnes, John Johansen, Ward Bennett, Craig Elwood, and Sibyl Moholy-Nagy. Stern and Stamp also note:

…with the help of Phyllis B. Lambert (b. 1927), a reluctant Mies van der Rohe came to New Haven as a visiting critic for a portion of the fall 1958 term.

And among the book’s copious illustrations, there’s a photograph of Mies reviewing the work of Yale students.

Timothy M. Rohan’s magisterial study of Paul Rudolph’s life and work, The Architecture of Paul Rudolph, also mentions Mies’s visit.

OUR PHOTO…

In attempting to identify the owner of the arm, in our mysterious photo, we looked at it with a magnifying eye loupe. Rudolph was known for his tweedy suits, sometimes in earth-tone hues or grays—or something approaching a blending of the two. Under magnification, the material of the jacket sleeve which clothes that arm seemed to have the right color and texture—but, beyond that observation, we couldn’t arrive at much of a conclusion.

So we reached out to Ms. Lambert: we sent a scan of the photo and asked if she recalled whose arm it might be, the occasion of the photo, and whether it might have been made during a visit by Rudolph to IIT—or—a  visit by Mies to Yale.

Phyllis Lambert graciously responded, via her executive assistant, who sent us the below note:

Ms. Lambert Lambert has seen the snapshot and below are her comments:

 I cannot identify the students. I was at Yale from when Rudolph was dean and Mies visited for a few days at that time. And I also saw Albers walking in the street and talked briefly with him. To my knowledge, Rudolph never came to IIT when I was there.

 That overlaps with what is in Stern’s and Stamp’s book, and Rohan’s, about Mies coming to Yale. Moreover, we’ve also never heard of any visits by Rudolph to IIT.

But there’s more. Ms. Lambert’s executive assistant had a further gift for us, and she writes:

About the picture size and luminosity:

Attached is a scan of the picture we worked on a bit, bigger and with more luminosity which reveals a bit of the unidentified person’s face.

Here’s the enhanced version which they sent:

We think we've solved the mystery of who is on the left side of the photo---as the text of our article reveals. Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation archives, with grateful acknowledgment for the photographic enhancement work done by the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA).

We think we've solved the mystery of who is on the left side of the photo---as the text of our article reveals.
Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation archives, with grateful acknowledgment for the photographic enhancement work done by the Canadian Center for Architecture (CCA).

Before the CCA did their enhancements, we really hadn’t noticed the “sliver” of face (the owner of that arm!) in the upper-left edge of the photograph—but we’re very glad to have it pointed-out to us. What can we see there?  A bit of a forward-leaning crest of hair, and a part of the face below—mainly the forehead. Hmmm. Well, one of the most prominent aspects of Rudolph’s post-World War II “look” was his crewcut, whose front silhouette included a small forward prow of hair—and that sat over a high forehead (with dark, curved eyebrows.)

Here’s a prime example, a well-known photograph of Rudolph which show those characteristics well:

A photographic portrait of Paul Rudolph:    Photo: from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

A photographic portrait of Paul Rudolph:

Photo: from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Over the years, we’ve looked at nearly every known photograph of Rudolph. Comparing those photos (like the one above) to the bits of head in our snapshot, we think we see a possible match.

So might that be Paul Rudolph, emerging at the left edge of the snapshot?

Here’s a summary of the evidence:

  • Mies at Yale (invited by Rudolph when he was chair): The historical record establishes that as true.

  • Mies at Yale, with Phyllis Lambert:  Ms. Lambert recalls that.

  • Clothing:  The arm’s jacket sleeve material’s color and texture appear to match Rudolph’s well-known “uniform”.

  • Hair:  The front crest of hair, shown in the snapshot, matches known photo portraits of Rudolph

  • Forehead:  Ditto

  • Eyebrows:  Ditto

Conclusion: This is likely the only known photograph of Mies and Rudolph together.

Mystery solved? We think so!


Discovered: A Little-known Interview with Paul Rudolph

Paul Rudolph in Florida, on the upper deck of the lookout tower of a building he designed: the Sanderling Beach Club, Siesta Key (photo taken circa 1953).    Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Paul Rudolph Archive

Paul Rudolph in Florida, on the upper deck of the lookout tower of a building he designed: the Sanderling Beach Club, Siesta Key (photo taken circa 1953).

Photo: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Paul Rudolph Archive

Little known? Well, to us—until we discovered it in the Winter 1983 issue of FLORIDA ARCHITECT, the journal of the Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects.

The magazine is still very much alive, and is full of fascinating content—and is now known as    Florida/Caribbean ARCHITECT   .

The magazine is still very much alive, and is full of fascinating content—and is now known as Florida/Caribbean ARCHITECT.

In 1982, Paul Rudolph was a member of the jury for the Florida Architect / AIA Design Awards—and, on that trip, also spoke in Tampa at the Fall Design Conference. His Florida visit was the occasion for the journal to have an interview with Rudolph, conducted by the Tampa-based architect Jan Abell.

That issue also included an article on the “Sarasota School”, illustrated with work by Rudolph (the Milam Residence), Jack West, Gene Leedy, William Rupp, Victor Lundy, and Mark Hampton (several of whom were “veterans” of Rudolph’s office.) It even included a photo of Rudolph with other members of the “school”, taken at the Design Conference.

Rudolph with other founders of the “Sarasota School,” at the 1982 FA/AIA DESIGN CONFERENCE in Tampa, Florida. From left-to-right: Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, William Rupp, Tim Siebert, Bert Brosmith, and Paul Rudolph.    Image: courtesy of FLORIDA ARCHITECT, Winter 1983

Rudolph with other founders of the “Sarasota School,” at the 1982 FA/AIA DESIGN CONFERENCE in Tampa, Florida. From left-to-right: Victor Lundy, Gene Leedy, William Rupp, Tim Siebert, Bert Brosmith, and Paul Rudolph.

Image: courtesy of FLORIDA ARCHITECT, Winter 1983

As many of our readers know, Rudolph’s career can be divided—at least geographically—into 3 phases, each based on where his primary office and home was located:

·         FLORIDA, starting in the late 1940’s –to–  1958:  the opening phase of his career, and the period when he came to national prominence for his fresh and creative design work

·         NEW HAVEN, from 1958  –to– 1965:   the span when he was Chair of Yale’s architecture school—during which he also had a very active practice (which he had relocated from Florida to New Haven)

·         NEW YORK CITY, from 1965  –to– 1997:   where, after his time at Yale, he moved (and worked) for the rest of his life. Although Rudolph ultimately developed an international practice, he was based in NYC during all those years, until his passing.

This interview was conducted long after Rudolph’s Florida phase. The conversation starts by acknowledging that it had been some time since he had returned to Florida—but then it quickly moves on to the topics that really animated Rudolph: the nature of good urbanism, issues of scale, and the essentials of good architecture.

Rudolph FA Article.JPG

We are grateful to the AIA Florida, and especially to their Chief Operating officer, Becky Magdaleno, for permission to reproduce the full text of this interview—which we present here.

[Note: we have maintained the spelling, grammar, and punctuation, as it originally appeared in the article.]

FLORIDA ARCHITECT Interviews: Paul Rudolph

"The built environment is too important to leave to architects.”

October 10, 1982

Florida Architect:  It's been a long time since you've been back to Florida after working here for so long. Were you surprised by the way the State has changed?

Rudolph:  Well, it shouldn't be a surprise, but, of course, you do remember things in certain ways. The sheer volume of building, not just high rise, but everything, is very different and one has to be surprised.

FA:  I'd like to talk a little about building scale. One of the firms which won a design award this year was Arquitectonica. Their Overseas Tower was described by the jurors as a good piece of highway architecture. This highway network of ours is a relatively new growth area with a very different scale from that found in the city. It's a scale that many of us are not used to working with and think in some ways it is not as enjoyable a scale as the one you were working with in Sarasota.

Rudolph:  I wonder, when you make that statement, if you're not hiding under a bush. My thesis is that the population explosion isn't over yet. No one is going to give up his car or the public transportation system. The number of people living in our cities just hasn't reached its peak. There is no way, of course, that architects can determine such a thing. But, it does take architects to find solutions to the problems created by expanding cities and highway systems. In that way, society determines what architects do. Architects often think it's the other way around, but it isn't. So, with regard to your comment about the scale of the work in Sarasota being a more enjoyable scale than say, highway architecture, I don't agree. I don't think that bigness is bad or that small is beautiful,

FA:  When you left Florida, was it because you saw what was going on around the rest of the country and you wanted to contribute to a new scale that was being tried?

Rudolph:  No. The reason why I left Florida was extremely complicated and had nothing to do with that. I did then, and still do, want to work on very large projects. I think it's wrong, as is frequently done here, to deplore the fact that Siesta Key has lots of highrise buildings. The real question is what kind of highrise buildings and how are they placed in relationship to one another,

FA:  I certainly agree with that. And the reality of the fact, here in Florida at least, is that everyone wants to be on the beach. If we're going to put all those people on the beach, then our buildings have to go up higher and higher. Single-family bungalows just can't do it anymore. But I repeat my earlier question which is 'do I really have to accept that this is the way society should be going?

Rudolph:  I am giving the Walter Gropius lecture at Harvard next week and I am going to talk about essentially this very thing. I’m going to talk about urbanism, and my thesis about it has to do with a lack of understanding of scale. I think this is one of the dreadful things that architects have fallen into … thinking that it's big and therefore it's bad. I really don't agree with that.

FA:  I agree that a large building can be very human and urbanism very exciting and that together they create something that nothing else can. I am wondering though, if that is what's happening here in Tampa for example.

Rudolph:  The problem, in any city, is not whether the buildings are large or small. When you posed that question to me, you alluded to "a large building". What I am concerned about is groups of buildings, not single isolated structures. We build too many isolated structures which, whether big or small, sit all unto themselves. They are unrelated to the next building in any way. Since there is no real theory about how to interconnect these buildings, each remains isolated, a law unto itself. When I look at the great architecture of the past, I find that it wasn't that way at all. There was every much a professional assembly of buildings and I think that's what we need to get back to.

FA:  In a lot of ways what we're talking about is planning. Do you agree?

Rudolph:  Yes, but you can’t throw it all off on the planners, either. Just establishing a planning code or a set of rules doesn’t make an environment. What it takes is ideas and sensitivity and the lack of coordination within our cities is not exclusively the fault of the planners.

FA:  I don't think would try to blame it on the planners, but I think in any city you need a good planning basis.

Rudolph:  I see it this way. Say that a throughway is needed through the middle of a city. The project is essentially executed by transportation engineers. Frequently the project becomes a political hot potato concerning where the road can or cannot be put based on so-called "feasibility studies." All of this sort of thing takes its own toll and eventually the road takes it's own form. It may be well done or not so well done. But, what's left is for the people to react to the project and patch up whatever can be patched up. It’s a natural follow through. One of Michelangelo}s greatest buildings, the Campidoglio in Rome, is really a patch up—a remodeling. There were a lot of helter skelter medieval buildings all around and Michelangelo remodeled the Campidoglio into one of the world's great works of architecture. There is nothing wrong with that.

FA:  There was a kind of purity of structure that is very obvious to me in the early work in Sarasota. Do you think that it is almost an exercise that architects have to go through where they are totally fascinated with structure, and then with space and then with scale?

Rudolph:  The essence of architecture for me is the appropriate psychology of space. As a matter of fact, my definition of architecture is that it is used space modified to satisfy man's psychological needs. How you achieve that space can be done in a lot of different ways. And that, of course, has to do with structure. I don't want to say that structure isn't important, I am just saying that it is secondary to the impression the building creates. I do, however, agree with your statement to the extent that I think in the early days in Sarasota architects were more concerned with how to put things together, how to connect to a column and so forth.

FA:  Recently a forum was held in Tampa on the status of the arts. A panel of a dozen people was assembled, not one of which was an architect. I think that sums up the way a lot of people feel about architecture, that it isn’t an art form at all, it's a function. Many people seem to feel that architecture is little more than frivolous space … expensive frivolous space. If architects are now being relegated to the position of being little more than builders, because of the economy or whatever, then what is the point of being an architect?

Rudolph:  I don't agree with your assessment. Not at all. I think the built environment is too important to be left to the architects. History shows that vernacular buildings can rise to tremendous aesthetic heights. The medieval hill towns, the Ponte Vecchio, none of these had architects, and they were all great contributions to the environment. One problem is that architects don't understand their role in society and, admittedly, it’s complicated. I do have great faith in the people and I think that too many architects ignore what the people want and need from architecture. Architecture is a matter of imagination, intellect and will. I'm sad that we architects get confused by making great works of art rather than what the people need.

FA:  My response to that is that I do believe that as a city develops, we architects have a wonderful opportunity to create great space and wonderful scale.

Rudolph:  But, we have to find other ways of handling simple things like the space between the parked car and the entrance to the building. I feel very dismal that that sort of thing has been overlooked for too long and I sometimes feel that it would be better left to the engineers. The whole circulation system that is created in a city dictates the way people perceive their environment. If parking is a problem and it takes thirty minutes to get from the car to the building then that perception is not good. Kennedy Airport is a classic example. Here we have the gateway to this country and it is all out of scale and difficult to navigate. It's just unfortunate that for many people that is the first thing they see of this country.

FA:  I'd like to ask you about building ornament. Do today’s architects know how to decorate their buildings?

Rudolph:  There is something innate about people having a need to decorate. In my opinion, we really don't know how to decorate. And, again, that has to do with scale. Decoration, quite obviously, gives meaning to a building. All the great architects through history have used decoration, including Wright and Corbusier. I think that decoration is particularly important for public commemoration and that the people need to suggest what the ornament should be. Public ornament and public sculpture may be the solution to the very things that our cities need, i.e. a sense of scale and less isolation and loneliness of one building to another. Historically man has done much better with his cities and I don't know why we can't today.

Jan Abell is a principal in her own Architectural firm, Jan Abell Architects, Tampa, Florida and is currently involved in the organization of the Architecture Club of Tampa.

Rudolph's Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo - an Artist Responds - Artistically!

“Disposable: Shoreline Apartment Complex Unit”  Plastic canvas, acrylic yarn, tissue box, 8 X 16.5 X 21 inches, 2016.    An artwork by Buffalo-born & based, fiber artist Kurt Treeby. This is his depiction of Paul Rudolph’s    Shoreline Apartments    in Buffalo. It is part of a set of works by Treeby, the “Disposable” series, involving—in the artists recounting—“thousands of precise stitches, all sewn by hand…”    Photo:    www.kurttreeby.com

“Disposable: Shoreline Apartment Complex Unit” Plastic canvas, acrylic yarn, tissue box, 8 X 16.5 X 21 inches, 2016.

An artwork by Buffalo-born & based, fiber artist Kurt Treeby. This is his depiction of Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo. It is part of a set of works by Treeby, the “Disposable” series, involving—in the artists recounting—“thousands of precise stitches, all sewn by hand…”

Photo: www.kurttreeby.com

SHORELINE APARTMENTS IN BUFFALO

Shoreline Apartments is a fascinating complex of residences on Niagara Street in Buffalo, NY, completed  in 1974 to the designs of Paul Rudolph. To say that it “is” is a bit problematic, because the entire set of residences is slated for demolition - and, as of this writing, about half of the complex still exists (but how long that extant portion will remain is unknown.)

“Rudolph’s original scheme, composed of monumental, terraced, prefabricated housing structures, provided an ambitious alternative to high-rise dwelling that was meant to recall the complexity and intimacy of old European settlements.” – Nick Miller, in The Architect’s Newspaper

“Rudolph’s original scheme, composed of monumental, terraced, prefabricated housing structures, provided an ambitious alternative to high-rise dwelling that was meant to recall the complexity and intimacy of old European settlements.” – Nick Miller, in The Architect’s Newspaper

Here’s a good, concise background on the project, as reported by Nick Miller in The Architect’s Newspaper (November 5, 2013):

[Arthur] Drexler exhibited Rudolph’s original, much more dramatic scheme for Buffalo’s Shoreline Apartments alongside pending projects by Philip Johnson and Kevin Roche in an exhibition entitled Work in Progress. The projects on display were compiled to represent a commitment “to the idea that architecture, besides being technology, sociology and moral philosophy, must finally produce works of art.”

Completed in 1972, the 142-unit low-income housing development was featured in both the September 1972 issue of Architectural Record as well as the 1970 exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Like many of their contemporaries, the inventive, complex forms and admirable social aspirations of the development have been overshadowed by disrepair, crime, and startling vacancy rates (30 percent in 2006 according to Buffalo Rising).

The Shoreline Apartments that stand today represent a scaled down version of the original plan. Featuring shed roofs, ribbed concrete exteriors, projecting balconies and enclosed gardens, the project combined Rudolph’s spatial radicalism with experiments in human-scaled, low-rise, high-density housing developments. The project’s weaving, snake-like site plan was meant to create active communal green spaces, but, like those of most if its contemporaries, the spaces went unused, fracturing the fabric of Buffalo.

Here’s an image of a portion of the Shoreline complex, as built:

The Shorelines Apartments in 1975, shortly after opening. The large Art Deco skyscraper, at the rear-right, is Buffalo’s City Hall.    Image: Courtesy of EPA/Library of Congress

The Shorelines Apartments in 1975, shortly after opening. The large Art Deco skyscraper, at the rear-right, is Buffalo’s City Hall.

Image: Courtesy of EPA/Library of Congress

THE ARTIST:  KURT TREEBY

Mr. Treeby, a fiber artist that’s a native of Buffalo (and who is based here), does fascinating work, and—on his website—you can find his own text on his career, from which we quote:

Kurt Treeby first studied art at the College of Art and Design at Alfred University. While at Alfred he studied painting, drawing, and art history. After receiving his MFA from Syracuse University Treeby develped a conceptual-based approach to art making that continues to develop as he works with a wide range of fiber and textile processes. His work comments of the production and reception of art, as well as the role art plays in our collective memories. He focuses on iconic imagery and the connection between so-called "high" and "low" art forms. Treeby has exhibited his work on a national and international level. He teaches studio art and art appreciation at the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and Erie Community College.

KURT TREEBY’S “DISPOSABLE” SERIES

The artist has done a series of artworks, each of which is a significant building (or complex of buildings) that has been demolished—or, like Shoreline, is on the way to being demolished. Among the building’s he’s focused on are: The Larkin Building (by Frank Lloyd Wright), BEST Products Showrooms (by SITE), the Niagara Falls Wintergarden (by Cesar Pelli), and various other structures. The one he did, of a  portion of the Shoreline, captures the Paul Rudolph’s design very nicely!

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Treeby’s beautiful and sensitive artistic statement on his work—and this series in particular:

Every city includes a variety of structures including historical landmarks, industrial factories, and utilitarian homes. My work examines the architectural ecosystem of production, consumption, and destruction embedded into the social, economic, and physical landscape of cities, reimagining a future apart from their industrial or commercial past.

Focusing on iconic structures, I faithfully replicate architectural and structural details from an alchemy of historical records and collective memory. I recreate these buildings in plastic canvas and craft-store yarn, amplifying the tension between fine art and craft. The final sculptures function as the visual embodiment of the restoration process, as historical records, and as personal memories; all imperfect and incomplete.

I use the medium of plastic canvas because it is rooted in domestic crafts. Traditionally, the medium is used to construct decorative covers resembling quaint cottages or holiday-themed houses for disposable items like tissues and paper napkins. Unlike the fantastical commercial patterns, my sculptures are often larger, replicating complex buildings that have been demolished or significantly altered over time. Because I cannot always experience the original structures, I combine archival records and satellite imagery to help me understand the building’s original site.

The hours spent on each piece are a meditation and a reflection on loss. Engaging in this meticulous process is my way of paying tribute to the original architects. My imperfect buildings act a stand in for the original, and as monuments to memory itself.


We urge you to visit Kurt Treeby’s website, and explore his movingly intriguing work for yourself: http://kurttreeby.com

Paul Rudolph Centennial Exhibit Catalogs Selected for the Library of Congress Collection

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THE NATION’S LIBRARY

It’s a special place—and an immense resource. Let’s have its head—the “Librarian of Congress” herself, Carla Hayden—describe it succinctly:

                The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.

                The Library preserves and provides access to a rich, diverse and enduring source of knowledge to inform, inspire and engage you in your intellectual and creative endeavors. Whether you are new to the Library of Congress or an experienced researcher, we have a world-class staff ready to assist you online and in person.

THE LIBRARY AND PAUL RUDOLPH

The Library of CongressPrints and Photographs Division holds the world’s largest collection of Paul Rudolph papers: their Paul Marvin Rudolph archive is comprised of hundreds-of-thousands of Rudolph drawings & documents. It is an indispensable source for anyone doing serious research on Rudolph. The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation has been greatly benefited by the Library’s gracious help—particularly from the head of their Prints and Photographs Division, Ms. Mari Nakahara. Our recent exhibit, Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory, was meaningfully enriched by being able to utilize images from the Library of Congress’ collection—and we continue to do research there, hoping to help share this immense source of Rudolph-ian creativity and knowledge.

OUR CONTRIBUTION

2018 was Paul Rudolph’s centenary year, and—to celebrate that—“Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory” and “Paul Rudolph: The Hong Kong Journey” were exhibits mounted by the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The Library of Congress helped greatly in making our exhibition program a success—and we have now made a contribution back— We send them a set of our exhibit catalogs:

The “Personal Laboratory” and the “Hong Kong Journey” catalogs were produced in association with the two corresponding exhibits that were mounted by the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The set is    available through Amazon   .    Photo: The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

The “Personal Laboratory” and the “Hong Kong Journey” catalogs were produced in association with the two corresponding exhibits that were mounted by the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The set is available through Amazon.

Photo: The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

We’re happy to announce that we’ve just received an official response from the head of the Library of Congress’ Monographs Section: the catalogs have been “selected for addition” to the library’s collection. We are glad to have these publications be a part of the nation’s greatest library!

Rudolph Centennial Exhibit Catalogs: Now Available Through Amazon

This pair of catalogs was produced in association with the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s two exhibits, celebrating Rudolph’s 100th centenary year, 2018. They are available as a set—   and now: easily purchased through Amazon   .    Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

This pair of catalogs was produced in association with the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s two exhibits, celebrating Rudolph’s 100th centenary year, 2018. They are available as a set—and now: easily purchased through Amazon.

Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

CELEBRATING A MAGNIFICENTLY CREATIVE ARCHITECT’S 100TH BIRTHDAY

Paul Rudolph (1918-1997) would have been 100 in 2018, and—to recognize & celebrate that—the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation mounted two exhibits: Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory and Paul Rudolph: The Hong Kong Journey.

This pair of exhibits (and Rudolph’s increasing recognition) were praised in an article in The New York Times. The bad news is that both exhibits have closed—but the good news is that the pair of catalogs—well illustrated records of the exhibit, supplemented by additional fascinating material—have been published by the PRHF.

“The Personal Laboratory” exhibit focused on the homes and workspaces that Rudolph crated for himself, wherever he settled. It’s catalog is richly illustrated, containing much of that material—as well as fascinating documents & memoirs of people who knew and worked for Rudolph.    Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

“The Personal Laboratory” exhibit focused on the homes and workspaces that Rudolph crated for himself, wherever he settled. It’s catalog is richly illustrated, containing much of that material—as well as fascinating documents & memoirs of people who knew and worked for Rudolph.

Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

“The Hong Kong Journey” exhibit focused on work that Paul Rudolph did in Hong Kong. In the last decade-and-a-half of his career, Rudolph was called upon by clients in Asia: Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Singapore—and he built large and significant in that part of the world. In Hong Kong you can see the pair of remarkable skyscrapers he designed: the Bond Centre (a.k.a. the Lippo Centre). They, and several other very intriguing projects were the focus of the exhibit, which also includes interesting essays by Rudolph’s Hong Kong associate, Nora Leung; as well as an introduction by Robert de Alba.    Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

“The Hong Kong Journey” exhibit focused on work that Paul Rudolph did in Hong Kong. In the last decade-and-a-half of his career, Rudolph was called upon by clients in Asia: Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Singapore—and he built large and significant in that part of the world. In Hong Kong you can see the pair of remarkable skyscrapers he designed: the Bond Centre (a.k.a. the Lippo Centre). They, and several other very intriguing projects were the focus of the exhibit, which also includes interesting essays by Rudolph’s Hong Kong associate, Nora Leung; as well as an introduction by Robert de Alba.

Photo: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

NOW MORE EASILY AVAILABLE

The catalogs are sold as a set—and have been available through the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s website’s “Shop” page—and continue to be.

But now they are now also easily orderable through AMAZON—at this page:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1792304218/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=Paul+Rudolph+personal+laboratory&qid=1554318008&s=books&sr=1-1-fkmrnull

Many people prefer the ease of shopping though Amazon—and we are pleased to the catalogs available by this method too.

Image: Amazon.com

Image: Amazon.com

TWO RESIDENCES BY PAUL RUDOLPH LISTED WITH THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

Paul Rudolph’s “Umbrella House” from 1953—as seen in 2018. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Paul Rudolph’s “Umbrella House” from 1953—as seen in 2018. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Paul Rudolph’s Fullam Residence, from 1959. Photo: Chris Mottalini and Eric Wolff

Paul Rudolph’s Fullam Residence, from 1959. Photo: Chris Mottalini and Eric Wolff

SOME GREAT NEWS

When there’s news about any of Rudolph’s buildings, it’s not always good: too often, we’ve heard about the act (or plan) to demo or damage one of Paul Rudolph’s great designs. But sometimes there is delightful news: for example, the recent purchase of Rudolph’s Hirsch (a.k.a. Halston) Residence by Tom Ford—and Mr. Ford’s stated intention to restore it—which you read about in one of our recent posts, is an example of great news about a Rudolph building!

Now we have some more good news!

Two of Rudolph’s most interesting residential designs—the Fullam Residence (in Bucks County, PA) and the “Umbrella House” (in Sarasota, FL) have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places !

THE UMBRELLA HOUSE

Readers of this Blog may have come across our article about Rudolph’s “Umbrella House”—but in case you haven’t seen it, you can read it (and learn a great deal about this fascinating design) here.

The “Weekly List” of the National Register of Historic Places now shows that it is listed with them. Here’s the page on which this is announced.

And the official listing reads:

FLORIDA, SARASOTA COUNTY,
Umbrella House,
1300 Westway Dr.,
Sarasota, MP100003417,
LISTED, 2/4/2019
(Sarasota School of Architecture MPS)

THE FULLAM RESIDENCE

The “Weekly List” of the National Register for Historic Places shows that it now listed with them. Here’s the page on which this is announced.

And the official listing reads:

PENNSYLVANIA, BUCKS COUNTY,
Fullam, John and Alice, House,
372 Brownsburg Rd.,
Wrightstown Township, SG100003519,
LISTED, 3/15/2019

By-the-way:

This is a good moment to make a note on the house’s (and original client’s) correct name. The accurate spelling is: Fullam (as shown in the National Register listing above). We only point this out because one sometimes sees it listed as “Fulham”—and that’s led to some confusion when doing research.

ABOUT BEING LISTED ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER

WHAT CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION ARE USED, WHEN THEY CONSIDER A BUILDING, SITE, OR STRUCTURE FOR “LISTING”?

Let’s let the National Park Service (of which the National Register is a part) speak for themselves. The range of possible reasons for listing are fascinatingly varied—and here is their document about “NATIONAL REGISTER CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION”:

Criteria for Evaluation

The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:

  • That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or

  • That are associated with the lives of significant persons in our past; or

  • That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or

  • That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory.

Criteria Considerations

Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the National Register. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of districts that do meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:

  • A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or

  • A building or structure removed from its original location but which is primarily significant for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or

  • A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no appropriate site or building associated with his or her productive life; or

  • A cemetery that derives its primary importance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or

  • A reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or

  • A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance; or

  • A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR A BUILDING TO BE “LISTED” ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES—AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Once again, we’ll let them speak for themselves. The following is excerpted from their own information pages:

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.

How are Properties Evaluated?

To be considered eligible, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This involves examining the property’s age, significance, and integrity.

  • Age and Integrity:  Is the property old enough to be considered historic (generally at least 50 years old) and does it still look much the way it did in the past?

  • Significance:  Is the property associated with events, activities, or developments that were important in the past? With the lives of people who were important in the past? With significant architectural history, landscape history, or engineering achievements? Does it have the potential to yield information through archaeological investigation about our past?

National Register Listing Process

Proposed nominations are reviewed by your state’s historic preservation office and the state’s National Register Review Board. The length of the state process varies but will take a minimum of 90 days.

Complete nominations, with certifying recommendations, are submitted by the state to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service makes a listing decision within 45 days.

Results & Owner Information

Listing in the National Register of Historic Places provides formal recognition of a property’s historical, architectural, or archaeological significance based on national standards used by every state.

Results include:

  • Becoming part of the National Register Archives, a public, searchable database that provides a wealth of research information

  • Encouraging preservation of historic resources by documenting a property’s historic significance

  • Providing opportunities for preservation incentives, such as:

  • Federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation

  • Federal investment tax credits

  • Preservation easements to nonprofit organizations

  • International building code fire and life safety code alternatives

  • Possible State tax benefit and grant opportunities. Check with your State Historic Preservation Office for historic property incentives available within your state

  • Involvement by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation when a Federal agency project may affect historic property

  • Find out information on the care and maintenance of your historic property through various NPS Preservation Briefs and Tech Notes

  • Network with other historic property owners, tour historic areas, or chat with preservationists through Conferences, Workshops, and Preservation Organizations

Tom Ford - and Rudolph's finest townhouse design in New York City

The great fashion designer Halston, enthroned in his living room—within the famous “101”, the townhouse in New York’s Upper East Side neighborhood in Manhattan    Photo by Harry Benson, from a feature on Halston in Life Magazine

The great fashion designer Halston, enthroned in his living room—within the famous “101”, the townhouse in New York’s Upper East Side neighborhood in Manhattan

Photo by Harry Benson, from a feature on Halston in Life Magazine

The elegantly restrained exterior elevation of the house, originally designed by Paul Rudolph in 1966-1967—purchased by Halston in 1974, and now a new home for Tom Ford. Photo: Homedsgn.com

The elegantly restrained exterior elevation of the house, originally designed by Paul Rudolph in 1966-1967—purchased by Halston in 1974, and now a new home for Tom Ford. Photo: Homedsgn.com

IT’S ALL OVER THE INTERNET…

It is all over the internet: a variety of news relating to one of the planet’s most celebrated designers - tho’ he’s much more than that - Tom Ford. It is has just been announced that he’s to be the next chair of an important fashion industry organization, the CFDA (the Council of Fashion Designers of America)

But in Rudolph-related news of Mr. Ford, there’s an even more exciting development. As written in Bridget Foley’s Diary:

                But who doesn’t love a tony real estate angle? Earlier in the day, WWD reported that Ford bought Halston’s famed house on East 63rd Street in New York in a deal that closed in January, but he’d managed to keep quiet until now. It would have been nifty news even had Halston not been a major influence on Ford’s career.

In that article, Mr. Ford was interviewed about the CFDA, his role, the house, and how it all fits into his life and plans. Here’s the section of the interview that is most focused on the house:

WWD: You are very cool with your stardom. Are you ever even a little bit impressed by the general-population interest in you? Someone can attribute a random, made-up quote to you and it sets the Twittersphere on fire?

T.F.: The number-two, most-trending tweet or whatever it is in America today. I just find it crazy. I mean, there are lots more important things to be concerned with today in the news than a quote from a fashion designer about the first lady, but anyway.

WWD: Does it awe you even a little that you have that power?

T.F.: I don’t think of myself that way. I think of myself as a dad who comes to the office and… Maybe it’s because I am grounded every day by [my husband] Richard Buckley, who is not going to let me feel like any sort of a star.

WWD: Point taken. Before we get to the house…

T.F.: Well, let’s just do the house so we can get to the CFDA, the important thing.

WWD: To the house.

T.F.: You did some homework. I felt like it was the Mueller report or something — the same LLC that bought the Betsy Bloomingdale house?

WWD: Old-fashioned reporting by a young reporter, Kathryn Hopkins. Is the purchase of the house at all tied to your CFDA chairmanship?

T.F.: Nooo, not at all. And yes, I did buy the house. I was in that house in 1979 or 1980, only once. I was not a friend of Halston’s, but I was introduced to him and I went by that house with a friend to pick someone up before we were going to Studio 54.

WWD: How old were you?

T.F.: I would’ve been 18. That house, it stunned me. It is and has always been one of the most inspirational houses that I was ever in, and one of the most inspirational interiors. I love [architect] Paul Rudolph. He designed [the Halston] house in 1966 for a pair of gentlemen and then redesigned it when Halston moved in — designed all the furniture. To me, it’s is just one of the great American interiors.

It’s a terrific house in New York. It’s got a garage that flips up. You drive in and the garage closes and it’s like a vault. Yet inside, it’s spectacular. I intend to basically put it back to the way it was the very first time I saw it when Halston lived in it. It’s very simple, very minimal, and there’s not a lot to do. I don’t have to knock down any walls. I basically have to just put in a lot of gray carpeting and the furniture.

I stayed in it when I was in New York the last time [for my fall 2019 ready-to-wear show]. I have sometimes said that New York is not my favorite place. But as [my son] Jack is living in Los Angeles, in the future I want him to know how to wear a pair of real shoes and a jacket and go to a restaurant and go to a play. So it’s a kind of house for the future and for the rest of my life.

WWD: It’s hard to find post-Halston pictures of the interior online. It wasn’t changed much?

T.F.: No there’s not a lot I have to do. It’s been very well-respected. Some very surface changes were made, which I think were a mistake, and so I intend to put it back. But it’s very contemporary, a very modern house. It could have easily been designed today. It’s timeless.

It’s a great piece of architecture and enormously pleasant to be in. I felt instantly at home when I stayed there even though it hasn’t been redone. Hugely comfortable and dead silent inside, yet full of light. You close the door and you forget that you’re right in the middle of New York. It’s wonderful.

WWD: But you’re definitely not moving to New York?

T.F.: No, not at all. I go to New York four or five times a year and for Jack’s school holidays, I’ll be going more. It’s a place to be when I’m in New York.

WWD: One more thing about it. Do you think people will read symbolism into it — Tom Ford buying Halston’s house?

T.F.: It’s fine if they do. I think Halston was one of the greatest American fashion designers. I have always said I was inspired by Halston, his simplicity, his modernity. But I didn’t buy the house because it was Halston’s. I bought the house because I loved the house.

Now, do I share certain design similarities and taste with what Halston liked, a certain streamlined minimalism, certainly with regards to architecture and interiors? Absolutely. So what would have appealed to Halston as a house appeals to me as a house as well. It’s a great house. Inside, it’s one thing. Outside it’s very — what is the word – private. While I was staying there, I had a couple of people come by. I would tell them the address and they’d walk right past it and call me — “where are you?” I’m like, “You just walked past it.” It recedes. It’s enormously private and that’s one of the great appeals.

It’s interesting that it was built for two gay men because, of course, in the mid-Sixties, they wanted to live their life without being observed. And, of course, it worked well for Halston and the things that were going on when he was there. So it’s really a kind of refuge in the middle of New York, which is amazing. And it is so dead quiet. You don’t even hear a horn honk.

By-the-way:   Mr. Ford refers to stopping by the house to pick-up a friend, before going off to the legendary club, Studio 54. This house plays a prominent background role in the glittering social life of late 1970’s New York, as it was the place that Halston, Bianca Jagger, Warhol, and their crew would assemble before proceeding to the world’s most famous disco - and all this is abundantly recorded in The Andy Warhol Diaries.

A GREAT HOUSE AND GREAT DESIGNERS

To celebrate Rudolph’s centenary (1918-2018), the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, recently mounted a centennial exhibit: ‘Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory’. In it, we included images of this house, using it as an example of how Rudolph would apply the lessons (that he’d derived from experimentations in his own homes) to projects for his clients.

About the house, we wrote: 

                This townhouse is in the heart of New York’s Upper-East Side: a neighborhood whose residents are, on average, among the wealthiest in the nation. Situated between a Federal style church and a traditional apartment house, this townhouse was initially designed and built for Alexander Hirsch and Lewis Turner - but it’s most famous resident & owner was the American fashion designer, Halston.

                It was exceptional in a number of ways: Firstly, townhouses of unabashedly Modern design were, in that era, rare in that neighborhood (indeed, anywhere in the city). Secondly, because Rudolph departed from the typical approach to designing the face of a NYC townhouse (which generally manifested as solid brick or masonry, with openings in a gridded pattern). Even Philip Johnson’s design for a townhouse, in the adjacent neighborhood, did not greatly depart from that formula.

                Steel beams, columns, and panels, infilled with glass, are the architectural signature of Mies van der Rohe—but that master hardly ever diverged from arranging them in a homogenous lattice. By contrast, Rudolph’s didn’t just lay-out this façade—he sculpted it, pushing the elements into different planes, and using subtle asymmetries, to give a serene aliveness to this otherwise understated “citizen of the street”. For Rudolph, this sculpting - merging Mies and Mondrian, but taking them to a more sophisticated level of visual complexity - would be further explored in the exteriors of the additions to his own residence at 23 Beekman - and would reach an ultimate rich expression, two decades after the Hirsch Residence, in the Modulightor Building.

                While this house’s exterior may be a precursor of Paul Rudolph’s future ventures, the interiors rely on the “lab results” from his previous residential experiments. This is particularly true when one compares Hirsch to Rudolph’s New Haven home: one can see the precedents for the cantilevered stairs, the dramatic double-height socializing space (with a matchingly large-scaled artwork), a cavalier attitude to railings, and a broad wall of glazing onto a private (and in both cases, Rudolph-designed) court.

As noted above, the house was originally designed and built for Alexander Hirsch—and then subsequently purchased by Halston. Halston wanted some changes, and brought Rudolph back to make them. This is refreshingly different from the practice of most buyers of a previously-owned home (who usually bring in a different architect) - but Halston, a designer of great sophistication, made the right decision to return to the house’s original architect: Rudolph. We note - with great joy - that Mr. Ford (a man of surpassing style) wants to return the house to the elegant state which Halston (and Rudolph!) created.

And now a selection of images from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation of this superb example of Rudolph’s work:

First Floor Plan

Mezzanine Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan

Perspective Section Rendering

Same section from the construction drawing set

Furniture details - made of acrylic with space to allow room for floor-length chainmail curtains.

The above images are by Eduardo Alfonso, who photographed the complete construction drawing set at the Library of Congress for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.