Rudolph Writing: Quotations from an Architect

Paul Rudolph—at the writer’s task. It’s worth noting that the book which he’s leaning against is the    the most complete monograph on the Yale Art & Architecture Building    ever produced (other than the    fine collection of photographs by Ezra Stoller   ). The book, published by    Jaca    in Italy, includes extensive analytical and measured drawings. © The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph—at the writer’s task. It’s worth noting that the book which he’s leaning against is the the most complete monograph on the Yale Art & Architecture Building ever produced (other than the fine collection of photographs by Ezra Stoller). The book, published by Jaca in Italy, includes extensive analytical and measured drawings. © The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

When we were putting together the exhibits and catalogs for Paul Rudolph’s 2019 centenary, we infused them with quotations from the architect: ones which were pertinent to the various facets of the exhibits—and which allowed Rudolph to speak directly to the viewer.

In the course of that research for the centenary, and in subsequent work (answering questions from journalists, writing these blog posts…) we accumulated a trove of fascinating Rudolph quotations—on a great variety of subjects—and we thought it would be good to share them.

RUDOLPH’S FAVORITE

The first one we want to share is a passage that Rudolph seemed to value above all others: he used it (or variations of it) over the years, sometimes at the end of a speech. Reading it today—and experiencing its force it induces—one can see why:

"We must understand that after all the building committees, the conflicting interests, the budget considerations, and the limitations of his fellow man have been taken into consideration, the architect’s responsibility has just begun. He must understand that exhilarating, awesome moment.

When he takes pencil in hand, and holds it poised above a white sheet of paper, he has suspended there all that has gone before and all that will ever be." 

Paul Rudolph’s Pencils and Pens. Image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Paul Rudolph’s Pencils and Pens. Image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

RUDOLPH QUOTATIONS

Here’s a selection of quotations from Rudolph’s various writings, speeches, and conversations. They indicate the many topics on which he focused, and are sometimes revealing of his creative process—the thinking of an architect who was both a practitioner and a teacher.

  • “We desperately need to relearn the art of disposing our buildings to create different kinds of space: the quiet, enclosed, isolated, shaded space; the hustling, bustling space, pungent with vitality; the paved, dignified, vast, sumptuous, even awe-inspiring space; the mysterious space; the transition space which defines, separates, and yet joins juxtaposed spaces of contrasting character. We need sequences of space which arouse one’s curiosity, give a sense of anticipation, which beckon and impel us to rush forward to find that releasing space which dominates, which acts as a climax and magnet, and gives direction.”

  • “The essential element in architecture is the manipulation of space. It is this essence which separates it from all other arts.”

  • “Things are quite chaotic. We are faced with a vast change of scale, new building forms which have not really been investigated, and the compulsions of the automobile. When faced with the truly new, the serious architect must search for solutions equally dramatic.”

  • “Architecture is a personal effort, and the fewer people coming between you and your work the better. … This is a very real problem, and you can only stretch one man so far. The heart can fall right out of a building during the production of working drawings, and sometimes you would not even recognize your own building unless you followed it through.”

  • “…we tend to build boxes and call them buildings.”

  • “I think every curve and line has to have real meaning; it cannot be arbitrary.”

  • “I’m pleased that the building touches people, and part of that is that people’s opinions oscillate about it. That’s okay. The worst fate from my viewpoint would be indifference.”

  • “In terms of how one goes about designing anything, you don't really know, or at least I don't know, until after the fact. There are so many elements that come into play that if you wait to figure out what it is you truly want to do once you have a project to work on there won't be enough time. You have to, as I see it, have a reservoir of things that you feel should be done and then you draw on that reservoir and hopefully apply elements from that reservoir in an intelligent fashion. Sometimes it doesn't work that way. Sometimes one is hell- bent for whatever reason to do certain things no matter what. That forcing can lead to obvious problems. You can have one hundred reasons why you do things after the fact. I'm just saying that for me it's a matter of getting your fingers on what you can and cannot do from a legal viewpoint, what it is the owner truly wants to do— but he doesn't necessarily tell you, you have to read between the lines— and what should be done ideally. … You have to know what's possible. Architecture is not a question of the purely theoretical if you're interested in building buildings. It's the art of what is possible.”

  • “I can say that in spite of all the rationalizations that architects go through, including myself, you can pay no attention to what architects say, you can only pay attention to what they do. The reason for that is a very real one. I'm compelled: I have no choice about certain combinations of forms, material, space, or architectural considerations. They egg me on. I know what they are, by and large— but not all of them— and I can be very clear about what they are. Now I can't tell you why spiraling space or the movement of space is what is so compelling for me, but it is. I can't tell you why the cantilever, the juxtaposition of forces, and the light and the heavy in terms of structure, is compelling, but it is. I can't tell you why the purposeful placement of architectural elements so that they catch the light in certain ways is compelling, but it is. I can't tell you why certain combinations of handling scale, which is for me second only to space in its importance, is compelling, but it is. I can't tell you why asymmetry as a method of organizing things is so much more compelling than symmetry— I think I've worked on two symmetrical buildings— but it is. ... All I'm really saying is that the most rational architect in the world is not to be trusted at all because there is no such thing as true rationalism when you are speaking of architecture. I can only tell you that I am totally turned off by certain things: the whole of Postmodernism, to start with. I'm equally turned on by certain elements of architecture. I used to wonder about that myself, but now I no longer wonder. I think it's an absolute nature of architecture.”

  • “Always, always, always, everything, everything, everything at the beginning. I'm a great believer in the big bang. You cannot isolate parts, ever. That's the reason why it's so important to know as much detail as possible at the very beginning.”

  • “Every man wants to belong to a “place”; he wants to believe that he is in the most wonderful spot on earth and he takes pride in how and where he spends his time on this earth. Emotion is the most important determinant in architecture.”

  • “I think everybody should nourish every last personal idiosyncrasy.”

  • “Our domestic interiors are often dominated by storage of mechanical, electronic, entertaining, work-saving devices of all kinds. Since they must be continually replaced, the architectural accommodation influences and often dominates the interior space. Furniture and equipment become architecture.”

  • “Decoration can be thought of as a precious assemblage of selected parts which is poured over the structure in such a manner that the parts adhere to important junctions—the junction of building to base, base to support, support to supported, building to sky and most important, building to user—as manifest at entry and opening.”

  • “I'm very selective about who I'm interested in. I would go around the world to see a Corbu building or a Wright building. I wouldn't go across the street to see some things. It's really true. I know it sounds terrible, but it's absolutely true. Because I'm interested in feeling and understanding, I learn from traditional architecture; I don't learn from modern architecture by and large. That the reason why I feel really lucky that I've traveled as much as I have.”

  • "To me, the Barcelona Pavilion is Mies’ greatest building. It is one of the most human buildings I can think of—a rarity in the twentieth century. It is really fascinating to me to see the tentative nature of the Barcelona Pavilion. I am glad that Mies really wasn’t able to make up his mind about a lot of things—alignments in the marble panels, or the mullions, or the joints in the paving. Nothing quite lines up, all for very good reasons. It really humanizes the building.”

  • “Well, I am influenced by everything I see, hear, feel, smell, touch, and so on. The Barcelona Pavilion affected me emotionally. It is one of the great works of art of all time. I could not understand at first why it affected me as it did. I really never liked the outside of it. But the inside of the Pavilion transports you to another world, a more spiritual world.”

  • “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 eave line 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 ones who did not. They didn’t know how, didn’t know why.”

RUDOLPH WRITINGS

Rudolph wrote & lectured throughout his career—and if you are interested in learning more about his thinking, the most concentrated collection of the architect’s words are in a book edited by Nina Rappaport:

WRITINGS ON ARCHITECTURE by Paul Rudolph

It is published by the Yale School of Architecture and distributed by Yale University Press (and also available through Amazon.) The book contains not only essays by Rudolph, but also the texts of some of his speeches, as well as interviews.

writings book cover.jpg

Another Rudolph Project — Revealed!

Roofscape geometry, like this one, certainly promises a building of some interest. In this case the promise is fulfilled, as it turns out to be a design by Paul Rudolph: the Harrington Cancer Center in Amarillo, Texas. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

Roofscape geometry, like this one, certainly promises a building of some interest. In this case the promise is fulfilled, as it turns out to be a design by Paul Rudolph: the Harrington Cancer Center in Amarillo, Texas. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

ARCHITECTS AND HISTORY

We found that, for those seeking a complete view of Paul Rudolph’s many and varied projects, Rudolph did not make it easy.

  • Yes: there are hundreds-of-thousands (literally!) of drawings and files.

  • Yes: there’s Rudolph’s own register of projects (which he kept changing throughout his career—editing projects in and out.)

  • And Yes: various studies and monographs have tried to give a full accounting of his oeuvre.

But even so: some projects remain just names and locations on a list—or not even that much (some are just titles of frustrating ambiguity).

A very few offices can afford to hire an in-house archivist, or think there’s a compelling reason to do so (Rudolph’s friend, Philip Johnson, was one such architect). Most firms are too focused on keeping the practice going to do more than the minimum to document projects enough to get them approved and built. In these ever-more-litigious days, that now results in mountains of documentation—but that was less the case during the era of Rudolph’s career.

Moreover, even in the context of an earlier era, firms could be more-or-less retentive (or cavalier) about what files they created and kept. We’d say that, record-keeping-wise, Rudolph was about in the middle: his prime goal was to get the buildings built, not to create piles of paper [this was confirmed to us by Rudolph’s former office manager, R.D. Chin.] There are project files of varying completeness—and he certainly did care for his drawings (Heinrich Klotz quoted Rudolph as calling them “his children”), but he regarded them as ultimately secondary—the important thing was the built architecture.

RUDOLPH IN TEXAS

We now introduce the little known Harrington Cancer Center in Texas.

“little known”?—well that’s not quite true, but it is another of those underdocumented Paul Rudolph projects for which there’s been frustratingly little information.

We had Harrington on our list of Paul Rudolph projects, but our first substantial knowledge of it was gained by way of Mark Gunderson’s article on Rudolph’s work in Texas. Here’s the passage from Mr. Gunderson’s essay which deals with Harrington:

In 1978, Dr. Phillip Periman (also a Yale graduate who attended the lectures of Vincent Scully) sent requests for qualifications to a number of architects, including Rudolph, I. M. Pei, Edward Larabee Barnes, and Philip Johnson, for the design of a new cancer research center in Amarillo. Rudolph received the commission for the Don and Sybil Harrington Cancer Center, with Wilson/Doche as associate architects, and integrated the new structure into the surrounding fabric of medical facilities. The building derives its intrinsic form from the parallelogram plan of individual exam rooms, which Rudolph proposed after intense consideration of the psychological aspects of such spaces on patients. The building is “let” into the site and falls towards the parking and entry level with two arm-like canopies over a pair of entry stairs. The brick and board-formed concrete vocabulary is again, as in the TICU project, contextually derived.

Excerpted from: Rudolph and Texas by Mark Gunderson, Texas Architect, 1998

REVEALING PHOTOS

We’re fortunate to have run into the photographs of Ben Koush, AIA, a registered architect, interior designer and writer, based in Houston, Texas. He has a strong interest in history, and is also a gifted photographer with an a sharp eye for vivid architectural views. You can see numerous examples of the images he’s captured on his Instagram page—and he’s given us permission to share the ones he’s taken of the Harrington Center.

Here are a few of them:

Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

We thank Mr. Koush for sharing with us this dynamic project—one with unique features (in a career of endlessly architectural invention.) The full set of Ben Koush’s Harrington photos is on our project page.

MORE ON HARRINGTON? YES, AND…

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s website maintains a “project page” for each of Rudolph’s over 300 designs—and there’s one for the Harrington Cancer Center which gives some further information. If you have any information or documents on this project, we’d be grateful to know about that (and to add them to our records, and make them available for study.)

Meanwhile, if you’re headed to Texas, Paul Rudolph did a number of projects there (as described in Gunderson’s article)—-and if you’re going to be in Amarillo, you might want to drive by both Harrington and another of Rudolph’s lesser known works—his pyramid shaped television station headquarters.

Only a rendering? No! Rudolph’s television station in Amarillo    was    built—a pyramid for Texas!

Only a rendering? No! Rudolph’s television station in Amarillo was built—a pyramid for Texas!

This satellite view shows the geographical relationship between two of Rudolph’s projects in Amarillo: the    Harrington Cancer Center    (denoted by its street address: 1500 Wallace Boulevard) is at the far left. Rudolph’s pyramid-shaped     KIIV-Channel 7 Television Station     (denoted by its street address: 1 Broadcast Center) is at the far right. Some suggested travel paths between them are marked in blue—which is most convenient for Rudolph fans who want to visit these sites. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

This satellite view shows the geographical relationship between two of Rudolph’s projects in Amarillo: the Harrington Cancer Center (denoted by its street address: 1500 Wallace Boulevard) is at the far left. Rudolph’s pyramid-shaped KIIV-Channel 7 Television Station (denoted by its street address: 1 Broadcast Center) is at the far right. Some suggested travel paths between them are marked in blue—which is most convenient for Rudolph fans who want to visit these sites. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

Successful (and Packed!) Opening of Shoreline Exhibit in Buffalo

SHORELINE: Remembering a Waterfront Vision

An exhibit featuring Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments - presented in partnership with the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation - opened in Buffalo last Friday. Shoreline is a development in the heart of downtown Buffalo—and would have included housing for various income levels, extensive community facilities, and a boat marina along the city’s lakeside edge—all planned and designed by Paul Rudolph—but only a portion of the proposed project was built.

The exhibit, at El Museo—which traces the erosion of an architectural, urban, and social vision for Buffalo’s waterfront—opened to a packed group of enthusiastic attendees.

Below are pictures from the exhibit’s preparation, opening, and of the some of the images and objects which are on-view—including a collection of impressive drawings, by Paul Rudolph, which convey his vision for the project.

NOTE: Further information about the exhibit (including location and hours) is at the bottom of this post.

Three key players: [left-to-right] Cheng Yang “Bryan” Lee, the museum’s curator;      Liz Waytkus     , Executive Director of DOCOMOMO US, and      Barbara Campagna     , leading preservationist—and co-curator of the exhibit. Photo by Joanne Campagna. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Three key players: [left-to-right] Cheng Yang “Bryan” Lee, the museum’s curator; Liz Waytkus, Executive Director of DOCOMOMO US, and Barbara Campagna, leading preservationist—and co-curator of the exhibit. Photo by Joanne Campagna. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Two of the drawings that were put on display in the exhibition:      ABOVE: One of Paul Rudolph’s perspective renderings of the project, showing a near-street-level view of a line of the brick townhouses, along with the radially planned parking adjacent to the residence.      BELOW: Rudoph’s site plan drawing, showing his overall disposition of the townhouses, parking, and green areas in one section of the development.      Paul Rudolph’s work is © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Two of the drawings that were put on display in the exhibition:

ABOVE: One of Paul Rudolph’s perspective renderings of the project, showing a near-street-level view of a line of the brick townhouses, along with the radially planned parking adjacent to the residence.

BELOW: Rudoph’s site plan drawing, showing his overall disposition of the townhouses, parking, and green areas in one section of the development.

Paul Rudolph’s work is © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

William Vogel, El Museo’s executive director, works on the exhibit’s signage. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

William Vogel, El Museo’s executive director, works on the exhibit’s signage. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

The venue for the exhibit: El Museo in Buffalo—and the public is welcome! [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

The venue for the exhibit: El Museo in Buffalo—and the public is welcome! [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

A view from the back of the exhibit space, looking towards the entrance—with attendees carefully studying the displayed materials. [Photo by Barbara Campagna.]

A view from the back of the exhibit space, looking towards the entrance—with attendees carefully studying the displayed materials. [Photo by Barbara Campagna.]

One of the numerous—and impressively large and detailed—drawings which Paul Rudolph created for the project. At the top is laid out the portion of the housing that was built. In the center is shown the boat marina—and the buildings that were to surround it: a mixture of housing of various heights, as well as community facilities. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

One of the numerous—and impressively large and detailed—drawings which Paul Rudolph created for the project. At the top is laid out the portion of the housing that was built. In the center is shown the boat marina—and the buildings that were to surround it: a mixture of housing of various heights, as well as community facilities. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Barbara Campagna reported that it was a “Jam packed museum exhibit opening…”—and the photos testify the same. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Barbara Campagna reported that it was a “Jam packed museum exhibit opening…”—and the photos testify the same. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

More of Paul Rudolph’s drawings, as displayed on the exhibit’s walls—and      in the foreground is one of Kurt Treeby’s architecturally-focused artworks.      [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

More of Paul Rudolph’s drawings, as displayed on the exhibit’s walls—and in the foreground is one of Kurt Treeby’s architecturally-focused artworks. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

A full view of one of the drawings shown in the above exhibit installation photo. Rudolph was a master perspectivist, and this is his overall rendering of the project. In the middle is the boat marina, from which multi-story apartment houses radiate. In he foreground (at the bottom of the drawing) are townhouses that line the outer edge of the peninsula that surrounds the marina. Just visible, at the top-right, is the portion of the housing that was constructed. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

A full view of one of the drawings shown in the above exhibit installation photo. Rudolph was a master perspectivist, and this is his overall rendering of the project. In the middle is the boat marina, from which multi-story apartment houses radiate. In he foreground (at the bottom of the drawing) are townhouses that line the outer edge of the peninsula that surrounds the marina. Just visible, at the top-right, is the portion of the housing that was constructed. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Bryan Lee, the exhibit’s co-curator (far left), gives an overview of the Shorline project and exhibit. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Bryan Lee, the exhibit’s co-curator (far left), gives an overview of the Shorline project and exhibit. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

In addition to drawings and artworks, photos of were included—including of its littlest residents, as well as interiors—and this gave a sense of life in Shoreline. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

In addition to drawings and artworks, photos of were included—including of its littlest residents, as well as interiors—and this gave a sense of life in Shoreline. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Included in the exhibit were examples of Kurt Treeby’s artwork. Here he bases one on a portion of a row of Shoreline’s Rudolph-designed townhouse. The tissue-boxification is Treeby’s commentary our our society’s throwaway attitude to our architectural heritage. For more on Treeby’s work—and to see further examples of his work in this mode—     see our blog post about him.      [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Included in the exhibit were examples of Kurt Treeby’s artwork. Here he bases one on a portion of a row of Shoreline’s Rudolph-designed townhouse. The tissue-boxification is Treeby’s commentary our our society’s throwaway attitude to our architectural heritage. For more on Treeby’s work—and to see further examples of his work in this mode—see our blog post about him. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Kurt Treeby     —the artist with one of his works. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Kurt Treeby—the artist with one of his works. [Photo by Barbara Campagna]

Shoreline—under construction.

Shoreline—under construction.

Shoreline—built, occupied, and the plantings already coming in. Phase One occupies the center of the photo. You can see a portion of the further construction of project (Phase Two) in the upper-left corner.

Shoreline—built, occupied, and the plantings already coming in. Phase One occupies the center of the photo. You can see a portion of the further construction of project (Phase Two) in the upper-left corner.

A artifact of Buffalo’s history—and of the aspiration to use architecture to make better lives. [Photo from a post by Barbara Campagna]

A artifact of Buffalo’s history—and of the aspiration to use architecture to make better lives. [Photo from a post by Barbara Campagna]

SHORELINE: Remembering A Waterfront Vision

EXHIBIT VISIT & cONTACT INFORMATION

DATES:

The exhibit is open from October 4 to November 16, 2019

PUBLIC SYMPOSIUM:

A public symposium on October 25–26 will convene architects, urban planners, preservationists, and researchers to discuss Paul Rudolph’s design legacy in Buffalo and New York State, the social legacy of urban renewal and modernism, and preservation efforts surrounding these sites and structures. This event will take place at the Earl W. Brydges (Central) Library in Niagara Falls and at the Frank E. Merriweather (Jefferson) Library in Buffalo.

PUBLICATION:

El Museo has announced that a publication will bring together images, essays, and other findings from the project to tell the varied histories of the Shoreline Apartments—and the book will be published later this year.

LOCATION:

EL MUSEO 91 Allen Street, Buffalo, NY   14202

HOURS:

Wednesdays–Fridays: 12–6pm
Saturdays: 1–5pm
First Fridays: 7–9pm
and by appointment (please call or email)

ADMISSION:

Admission is free—but If you like what they do, help support their work.

TRANSPORTATION:

El Museo is accessible by NFTA Metro Rail (5-minute walk from Allen/Medical Campus Station) and Metro Bus routes 8 Main, 11 Colvin, 20 Elmwood, and 25 Delaware. Limited service on routes 7, 29, 64, 66, 67, and 69. Metered parking is available on Allen Street and Delaware Avenue.
NFTA Metro
Google Maps directions

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Paul Rudolph's "Pyramid of Power" (Texas Style)

A night-time rendering of Paul Rudolph’s Channel 7 TV station headquarters building, designed for Amarillo, Texas.

A night-time rendering of Paul Rudolph’s Channel 7 TV station headquarters building, designed for Amarillo, Texas.

The most well-known builders of pyramids were the Egyptians and several Mesoamerican civilizations—and even the Romans had one!

The Pyramid of Cestius in Rome, completed about 12BC. Photo by Livioandronico2013

The Pyramid of Cestius in Rome, completed about 12BC. Photo by Livioandronico2013

Pyramidal structures can be found in other parts of the world—from Indonesia to China to Greece (and now Las Vegas).

But Texas too?

Yes—via Paul Rudolph’s design for the headquarters of a TV station in Amarillo, Texas—a project of his from 1980. For a long time, the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation had very little information on this building: we knew it was commissioned by Stanley Marsh—one of Amarillo’s lively characters and a patron of the arts—and we had an address for the building, and Rudolph’s intriguing rendering (which shows it at night, with an array of lights blazing upwards from the center.) We still don’t know much about the commission—it will bear further research—but we do have some fresh images to share.

The building—its formal name and address being “1 Broadcast Center”—is still the home of KIIV, Channel 7—the ABC/CW+ station in Amarillo. KIIV has a long history in Amarillo, having first signed on-the-air in 1957.

The context for the building:    A satellite view of the neighborhood where the pyramidal TV station is located in Amarillo, Texas. North is towards the top, and the building’s roof is marked by the red arrow. Amarillo’s Elwood Park is at the far left, and railroad lines are at the right edge of the photo. The several forking roads, which merge towards at the bottom of the picture, converge to form US Highway 287. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

The context for the building:

A satellite view of the neighborhood where the pyramidal TV station is located in Amarillo, Texas. North is towards the top, and the building’s roof is marked by the red arrow. Amarillo’s Elwood Park is at the far left, and railroad lines are at the right edge of the photo. The several forking roads, which merge towards at the bottom of the picture, converge to form US Highway 287. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

A closer-in satellite view, looking down on the TV station’s pyramidal roof:    To get a sense of the building’s scale, one can compare it with the cars which are parked to the North, East, and South. At the bottom of the picture (at the South, just below the line of parked cars) is an array of the numerous types of antennas used by the station. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

A closer-in satellite view, looking down on the TV station’s pyramidal roof:

To get a sense of the building’s scale, one can compare it with the cars which are parked to the North, East, and South. At the bottom of the picture (at the South, just below the line of parked cars) is an array of the numerous types of antennas used by the station. Image courtesy of Google: Imagery ©2019 Google, Imagery ©2019 Maxar Technologies.

Ben Koush, AIA, is a registered architect, interior designer, and writer, based in Houston, Texas. He has a strong interest in history, and—fortunately for us—is also a photographer. You can see numerous examples of the images he’s captured on his Instagram page—and he’s given us permission to share the ones he’s taken of Rudolph’s TV station:

Front view of the Eastern side of the TV station building: KVII, ABC’s Channel 7 in Amarillo Texas, designed by Paul Rudolph. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Front view of the Eastern side of the TV station building: KVII, ABC’s Channel 7 in Amarillo Texas, designed by Paul Rudolph. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

A diagonal view. As in Rudolph’s rendering, the Channel 7 logo (and name of the staton) is prominent at the pyramid’s apex. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

A diagonal view. As in Rudolph’s rendering, the Channel 7 logo (and name of the staton) is prominent at the pyramid’s apex. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

A view of the South side, with the station’s many antennae in the foreground. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

A view of the South side, with the station’s many antennae in the foreground. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

A view from below the pyramid’s roof. The steel structures appears to support an open mesh sheathing, and the enclosed body of the building seems to be composed of a metal & glass curtain wall system. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

A view from below the pyramid’s roof. The steel structures appears to support an open mesh sheathing, and the enclosed body of the building seems to be composed of a metal & glass curtain wall system. Photo © Ben Koush, used with permission.

Scott Fybush, based in Rochester NY, has also allowed us to show his photo of the building. Mr. Fybush has professional experience across all facets of broadcasting, and, under the Fybush Media banner, provides consulting services including signal expansion strategy, allocations, FCC filings and station brokerage. Here’s an image he shared with us—with Texas’ “big sky” clouds forming a dramatic background:

The station, as seen from the North. Image courtesy of Scott Fybush.

The station, as seen from the North. Image courtesy of Scott Fybush.

We are grateful to both Mr. Koush and Mr. Fybush for permission to use their photos—which allow us to convey some of the power of this Rudolph design.

A Missed Opportunity — and Your Chance to Own a Rudolph Masterpiece

Paul Rudolph’s 1953 project in Sarasota: known as the “Umbrella House,” it is one of the most famous of his designs from the Florida phase of his career. Photograph by Francis Dzikowski, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Paul Rudolph’s 1953 project in Sarasota: known as the “Umbrella House,” it is one of the most famous of his designs from the Florida phase of his career. Photograph by Francis Dzikowski, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Who wouldn’t dream to…

  • live in a famous example of the “Sarasota School”

  • own a design that is one of the landmarks of Paul Rudolph’s career

  • wake-up every day in a house that’s sensitively and creatively designed for the environment

Well, you could have! In the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, we have a clipping of an ad from not-that-long ago: in 2005, you had your opportunity to fulfill your dream…

The ad’s copyrwriter was so right about the building’s significance and features.

The ad’s copyrwriter was so right about the building’s significance and features.

The ad reads:

Parcel 6570 — Architectural Digest calls Paul Rudolph’s creation "one of the top five most remarkable houses from the 20th century." This auction represents a unique opportunity for the astute collector to purchase arguably the finest example of modern residential architecture still in private hands. Paul Rudolph’s UMBRELLA HOUSE, the pinnacle residence of the Sarasota School, is a superbly restored gem located only minutes from downtown Sarasota and Longboat Key. In Rudolph's signature style, the horizontal articulation of the house results in nine distinct levels. The house is elevated more than a foot off the ground on all sides creating a floating effect against the lush, tropical landscape. All of this and a location steps from the water in one of Florida's coveted communities surrounded by other examples of complementing architecture.

We’ve written an extensive article on Rudolph’s “Umbrella House”, giving its full background, and an architectural analysis—and also our website’s project page for the building has a wealth of photos and other information on it.

And who, upon going out, wouldn’t want to be greeted with this:

Photograph by Francis Dzikowski, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Foundation

Photograph by Francis Dzikowski, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Foundation

And upon re-entering, who wouldn’t want to enjoy residing in this superb Modern interior:

Photograph by Francis Dzikowski, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Photograph by Francis Dzikowski, Archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Not to mention the cache of living in an acknowledged landmark:

Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Too late! The Umbrella House was sold—and we can only envy the happy owners.

BUT IT’S NOT TOO LATE!

Another example of Rudolph’s residential work IS available:

the MILAM RESIDENCE—a significant home which achieved international recognition.

Architectural Record    featured 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 featured 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.

If you’re interested in learning more about this distinguished house in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, please contact:

Mr. Robert C. Champion (904) 755-4785 robertchampion@bellsouth.net

Further Gift of Paul Rudolph "Treasures"

Some Rudolph-ian items, recently on display at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. At the top-center is a print of a drawing by Paul Rudolph, showing his intentions for the structure and detail of a portion of the Deane Residence (built in Great Neck, NY). That drawing, as well as the Rudolph’s drawings for the Yale Art & Architecture Building (that are also shown here) were generously donated by R.D. Chin. Other items in this view (on the far right) are two faxes which Rudolph sent from Jakarta to the staff of his New York office (while he was traveling overseas to work with clients). In those faxes, he’d address various staff members, giving each instructions about the various projects they were working on.—and occasionally theses faxes would include small architectural diagrams. [It is worth noting that these were sent when faxing was the high-tech communications technology of its time: before e-mail, faxing was the fastest and most efficient way that businesses could use to send written and graphic information.]

Some Rudolph-ian items, recently on display at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. At the top-center is a print of a drawing by Paul Rudolph, showing his intentions for the structure and detail of a portion of the Deane Residence (built in Great Neck, NY). That drawing, as well as the Rudolph’s drawings for the Yale Art & Architecture Building (that are also shown here) were generously donated by R.D. Chin. Other items in this view (on the far right) are two faxes which Rudolph sent from Jakarta to the staff of his New York office (while he was traveling overseas to work with clients). In those faxes, he’d address various staff members, giving each instructions about the various projects they were working on.—and occasionally theses faxes would include small architectural diagrams. [It is worth noting that these were sent when faxing was the high-tech communications technology of its time: before e-mail, faxing was the fastest and most efficient way that businesses could use to send written and graphic information.]

A few months ago, RD Chin—an architect who had worked closely with Paul Rudolph—gave us a group of significant items to add to the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. We showed that in a recent post—but now we want to extend our acknowledgement of Mr. Chin for a further act of generosity. He surprised us with the gift of additional Rudolph materials for our archives: drawings (renderings and construction documents), photographs, brochures, exhibit catalogs, and books.

Another view of our display of Rudolph materials—including some of the recent gifts from R.D. Chin. Among the examples is a high-resolution print of a rendering of the interior of Paul Rudolph’s Burroughs Wellcome headquarters (built in Durham, North Carolina), at the upper-left. Other recent gifts include a Rudolph rendering of the Dharmala Headquarters (built in Jakarta) at the top-center; and the plan of the Edersheim Pool House (bottom center). Other Rudolph documents, from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, are shown here: a vintage brochure for the Temple Street Parking Garage (featuring a Rudolph rendering) built in New Haven (shown at far-left); and an offprint of an extensive article on the Bond Center (built in Hong Kong) from a magazine for the Italian concrete industry (shown at bottom-left).

Another view of our display of Rudolph materials—including some of the recent gifts from R.D. Chin. Among the examples is a high-resolution print of a rendering of the interior of Paul Rudolph’s Burroughs Wellcome headquarters (built in Durham, North Carolina), at the upper-left. Other recent gifts include a Rudolph rendering of the Dharmala Headquarters (built in Jakarta) at the top-center; and the plan of the Edersheim Pool House (bottom center). Other Rudolph documents, from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, are shown here: a vintage brochure for the Temple Street Parking Garage (featuring a Rudolph rendering) built in New Haven (shown at far-left); and an offprint of an extensive article on the Bond Center (built in Hong Kong) from a magazine for the Italian concrete industry (shown at bottom-left).

We are very grateful to RD Chin for adding these Rudolph “treasures”—the ones shown here, and many more—to the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The donation of materials like these help us move forward with several of our missions, including supporting the study of Paul Rudolph’s work and the preservation of his legacy. Each of the items is being cataloged and added into our database of Rudolph works.

NOTE: If any readers—including former employees or clients of Rudolph—would like to donate papers, drawings, documents, or memorabilia to the archive, we would like to talk to you! Not only may you qualify for a tax deduction for the value of the material, but we’d also like to show it off here on our blog. To learn more, contact us at: office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

RD Chin, shown while working in Paul Rudolph’s office in New York, next to a model of the Concourse (built in Singapore). Just peeking out at the bottom of the photo, below the tabletop, is the top of one of the fork-shapedmetal drawing-board supports which Rudolph had designed and custom fabricated for his offices—they can be seen in photos of his New Haven studio, and they seem to have move with him to his subsequent office locations (as well as showing up in Rudolph’s perspective rendering of his New York office).

RD Chin, shown while working in Paul Rudolph’s office in New York, next to a model of the Concourse (built in Singapore). Just peeking out at the bottom of the photo, below the tabletop, is the top of one of the fork-shapedmetal drawing-board supports which Rudolph had designed and custom fabricated for his offices—they can be seen in photos of his New Haven studio, and they seem to have move with him to his subsequent office locations (as well as showing up in Rudolph’s perspective rendering of his New York office).

We also want to share a bit about R.D. Chin—architect and feng shui consultant:

R.D. Chin, Feng Shui Architect has a civil engineering degree (BSCE) from Tufts University and a masters degree in architecture (M.Arch) from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Mr. Chin had the privilege and honor to work with the late master architect, Paul Rudolph; he worked three periods in Rudolph’s office: 1981-1983, 1985-1989, and 1990-1996 — beginning as an apprentice to becoming his office manager.

  • His feng shui training was under the tutelage of the late Grandmaster Lin Yun, Howard Choy, Master Raymond Lo, and other feng shui teachers. He also does residential and commercial consultations and performs blessing ceremonies. In addition, RD hosts a creative salon series where he shares his experiences of qigong and other meditative practices.

  • He has worked on proposals for an urban planning and housing development in the Netherlands, a Feng Shui Proposal for the World Trade Center Memorial Competition, and his projects include the corporate headquarters for Felippo Berio Olive Oil, NJ; Standard Chartered Bank; and an affordable housing project for One Flushing, NY.

  • He is author of Feng Shui Revealed, published by Clarkson Potter of Random House.

  • Contact information—

    www.RDChin.com

    rdchin53@gmail.com

    (917)669-8099


New Exhibit documents the Erosion of Paul Rudolph’s Modernist Vision in Buffalo, New York

Paul Rudolph’s perspective drawing of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”)—this view foregrounds the higher-end housing (which was not constructed) which would have surrounded the marina. The complex of lower-rise apartments, which were built (and which are under ongoing threat), are lightly rendered at the top-right of the drawing. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s perspective drawing of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”)—this view foregrounds the higher-end housing (which was not constructed) which would have surrounded the marina. The complex of lower-rise apartments, which were built (and which are under ongoing threat), are lightly rendered at the top-right of the drawing. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Located near Buffalo’s celebrated City Hall, the Shoreline Apartments is a housing complex designed by Paul Rudolph and completed in 1974. Featuring shed roofs, ribbed concrete exteriors, projecting balconies, and enclosed garden courts, the project combined Rudolph’s spatial radicalism with experiments in human-scaled high-density housing.

Paul Rudolph’s axonometric drawing for the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”). This drawing shows a sample of the low-to-mid-rise apartments (which were built—and which are under ongoing threat), with adjacent parking. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s axonometric drawing for the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”). This drawing shows a sample of the low-to-mid-rise apartments (which were built—and which are under ongoing threat), with adjacent parking. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The complex has already been partly demolished, and the balance is seriously threatened. This has brought attention to the development—both locally and more broadly—and this focus has begun to produce results…

A SPECIAL EXHIBIT & SYMPOSIUM

Starting next month, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is partnering with Buffalo’s El Museo to present:

Shoreline: Remembering a Waterfront Vision

a special project that looks into the history of one of Rudolph’s residential designs: Buffalo’s Shoreline Apartments.

EXHIBITION: October 4 -to- November 16, 2019

The project will open with an exhibition of documents, drawings, photographs, and artworks, spanning from the original vision of the Buffalo Waterfront Development in the 1960’s to the eventual destruction of Shoreline in recent years.

SYMPOSIUM: October 25 & 26, 2019

A public symposium will convene architects, urban planners, preservationists, and researchers to discuss:

  • Paul Rudolph’s design legacy in Buffalo and New York State

  • the social legacy of urban renewal and modernism

  • preservation efforts surrounding these sites and structures

Other public programs will be announced.

LOCATIONS:

The events will take place at two cities in the area—both with significant buildings by Paul Rudolph: Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

PUBLICATION

A publication is planned, to be issued later in 2019, which will bring together images, essays, and other findings from the project: it will tell the varied histories of the Shoreline Apartments.

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

BACKGROUND

Located near Buffalo’s celebrated art-deco skyscraper City Hall, the Shoreline Apartments is a housing complex designed by architect Paul Rudolph and completed in 1974. It was originally part of the Buffalo Waterfront Development, an ambitious, mixed-income urban renewal project commissioned by the New York State Urban Development Corporation in 1969.

Aerial view (taken from the South East) of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”). Photo by Donald Luckenbill, © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Aerial view (taken from the South East) of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”). Photo by Donald Luckenbill, © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Rudolph’s scheme featured an arrangement of:

  • monumental, terraced high-rises flanking a marina

  • a sprawling school and community center

  • a series of low- and mid-rise apartment buildings meant to evoke Italian mountain villages

  • green spaces woven through the site

Street view of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”), taken between 1973 and 1977. © Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith

Street view of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”), taken between 1973 and 1977. © Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith

“With few exceptions, Paul Rudolph’s buildings can be recognized by their complexity, their sculptural details, their effects of scale and their texture.”

So wrote Arthur Drexler, the famed director of the Museum of Modern Art’s Architecture and Design Department for the 1970 exhibition, Work in Progress—a show which included Rudolph’s designs for the Buffalo Waterfront Development and Niagara Falls (Brydges) Library.

In the end, only two phases of affordable housing (Shoreline and Pine Harbor Apartments) were built. Today they are among the most unloved buildings in Buffalo, because—like many public housing projects of that era—their inventive, complex forms and admirable social aspirations have been overshadowed by disrepair, crime, and vacancy. In 2013, the site’s owner proposed a phased demolition and replacement of Shoreline with new traditionally styled townhouses. Following failed attempts at landmarking the structures for preservation, the first round of demolitions began in summer 2015.

The ongoing threat to Shoreline Apartments represents not just the loss of an exemplary piece of Buffalo’s Modern architectural legacy, but also the demise of a certain perspective on architecture and the city—and the possibilities of positive government action. It tells a story of the aspirations of mid-century urban planning, the short-lived heroism of Modern and “brutalist” architecture, and the unrealized social visions of the past.

At a time of renewed interest in Moden buildings, this project asks critical questions in architecture and historic preservation:

  • Whose buildings are important?

  • Whose stories get told?

  • What types of structures are considered worthy of maintenance and protection, and what others are left to deteriorate and die?

  • Is there room in our cities for inconvenient reminders of a past (and “inconvenient populations”) we would rather forget?

Through the lens of the Shoreline Apartments, this project aims to inspire new conversations that might lead to a better understanding and appreciation of these misunderstood places.

EXHIBIT LOCATION

Museo Francisco Oller y Diego Rivera (“El Museo”)

91 Allen Street (between Delaware Avenue and Franklin Street)

Buffalo, NY 14202

(716) 464.4692

http://www.elmuseobuffalo.org/

info@elmuseobuffalo.org

SPONSORS AND KEY PARTICIPANTS

Shoreline: Remembering a Waterfront Vision is curated by El Museo’s curator, Bryan Lee, and prominent preservation architect Barbara Campagna, and presented in partnership with the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

This project is funded by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Paul Rudolph’s overall site plan of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”). The higher-end housing (which was not constructed), surrounded the marina, occupies the right side of he drawing. The complex of mid-to-low-rise apartments is on the left side of the drawing—and the left-most quarter of that section is what was actually built. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s overall site plan of the Buffalo Waterfront Housing Project (“Shoreline Apartments”). The higher-end housing (which was not constructed), surrounded the marina, occupies the right side of he drawing. The complex of mid-to-low-rise apartments is on the left side of the drawing—and the left-most quarter of that section is what was actually built. © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Note: We thank El Museo, from whose web page Shoreline: Remembering a Waterfront Vision the above text was adapted.

From: Paul Rudolph — To: Philip Johnson

A detail from a snapshot of Philip Johnson (at left) and Paul Rudolph (at right) at a Yale architecture school jury in 1960. Photo: Stanley Tigerman

A detail from a snapshot of Philip Johnson (at left) and Paul Rudolph (at right) at a Yale architecture school jury in 1960. Photo: Stanley Tigerman

DISCOVERING TREASURES

One of the pleasures of archival research is the possibility of coming across surprising items—a bit like walking across a beach and tripping over a treasure. When we were preparing for last year’s Paul Rudolph centenary exhibits, we did a deep dive into our archives. This post is about one such item we came across (and we’ll be sharing more in future posts.)

What secrets lie beyond that door? The front facade of Philip Johnson’s home, at 242 East 52nd Street in Manhattan. Originally designed by Johnson—in his most Miesian phase—as a guest house for the Rockefeller family, it was later donated by them to the Museum of Modern Art (for the same use).    It is now a NYC landmark   . Among the later residents was Johnson himself, who made it his NYC home in the 1970’s. Photograph courtesy of   galinsky.com

What secrets lie beyond that door? The front facade of Philip Johnson’s home, at 242 East 52nd Street in Manhattan. Originally designed by Johnson—in his most Miesian phase—as a guest house for the Rockefeller family, it was later donated by them to the Museum of Modern Art (for the same use). It is now a NYC landmark. Among the later residents was Johnson himself, who made it his NYC home in the 1970’s. Photograph courtesy of galinsky.com

FRENEMIES

We’re often asked about the relationship, personal and professional, between Rudolph and Philip Johnson. Though Johnson was a dozen years older than Rudolph, and their origins and experiences growing up were very different (especially their economic backgrounds), they came to know each other rather well after World War II. Both had been in Harvard’s school of architecture (where Rudolph was a favorite of the program’s director, Walter Gropius)—and both became rising stars in the post-war/post-Bauhaus generation of American architects who were advocates for Modernism. When Paul Rudolph became Chair of Yale’s School of Architecture—he was in office there from 1958-1965—Johnson was invited by Rudolph to be a teacher or to join-in at end-of-term juries.

Philip Johnson was a mercurial personality, whose behavior could range from waspish and Machiavellian to loyal and generous. He was famous for his wit. Emily Sherman was a close friend of Rudolph, and spent time around both architects—and she says that Johnson could have had a career as a stand-up comedian. A facet of that wit was teasing—and Rudolph was long-term, friendly target.

We’ve discovered that Johnson designed a house for the Tuttle family, one that was not built—but Rudolph had the same client decades later, and completed one his most unusual houses for them. We wonder whether Johnson or Rudolph knew about each other’s work for the family—and, if Johnson did know of Rudolph’s success with the Tuttles, did it rankle Johnson? Even so, they were friends, and neighbors too: Johnson’s NYC home on Manhattan’s East 52nd Street (shown above) was close to Rudolph’s on Beekman Place—and they also sometimes dined together at Billy’s, a bar-restaurant about half-way in-between. Also, Rudolph was an occasional guest at Johnson’s Connecticut home, The Glass House.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUT…

Johnson was born in 1906, a dozen years before Rudolph. But in very real way, those dozen years made a profound difference: Johnson was of another generation—one that was born into the world that World War One would sweep away. Rudolph was born well after, in an America that had become a world power, and he grows up during the 1920’s and 1930’s. So they are, in so many ways, very different.

Yet they did develop a long-term friendship, and, as evidenced the item below. In 1991 Rudolph was invited to Johnson’s 85th birthday. As you can see, Rudolph, himself well into his 70’s, was still busy with projects—maybe, on the night of Johnson’s party, a bit too busy….

A birthday note—via fax—from Paul Rudolph to Philip Johnson. Since Johnson was born in 1906, and the there’s a reference in the note to this being his 85th, birthday, it must have faxed over in 1991. From the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, © The Paul Rudolph estate, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

A birthday note—via fax—from Paul Rudolph to Philip Johnson. Since Johnson was born in 1906, and the there’s a reference in the note to this being his 85th, birthday, it must have faxed over in 1991. From the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, © The Paul Rudolph estate, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph: Traveling Man

The photo and signature page from Paul Rudolph’s US passport, issued in 1954. Rudolph was 35 at the time, and the home address he’s written into the passport indicates that he was then a resident of Sarasota. From the collection of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The photo and signature page from Paul Rudolph’s US passport, issued in 1954. Rudolph was 35 at the time, and the home address he’s written into the passport indicates that he was then a resident of Sarasota. From the collection of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The extent to which an architect needs to travel, has rarely been focused upon. Yet if one is an active professional, then you’re constantly traveling:

  • to meet potential and current clients (and to keep meeting with them during the design and construction phases of a project)

  • to view (and sometimes help in the selection of) sites where construction is to take place

  • to be present at meetings with the area’s various boards, committees, and inspectors

  • reviewing the work of prospective contractors

  • to visit projects during construction

  • visiting sub-contractors—especially craftspeople and artists—at their studios or shops, to review the form, detail, process, and progress of custom-built items

  • and—finally and hopefully—to be there during the dedication ceremony!

Add to these the other kinds of activities which add to many architects’ travel schedules:

  • lecturing

  • teaching and/or serving on juries

  • attending conventions

  • professional continuing education classes

  • trying to visit, nationally and world-wide, the key monuments of architecture (another kind of self-education)

To some, all this travel is largely a pleasure. To others, it becomes a kind of trap: one finds oneself in an endless round of far-flung appointments, without a sense of ever arriving “home” (nor having the quiet time necessary to really think-through a project’s design challenges.) And it can be energy draining: when a young staff member expressed envy of his boss—a consultant with an international practice—about all the travel he got to do, we heard him respond: “You’ll feel that way—until you start doing it yourself!”

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Rudolph, from what we can tell, embraced travel—or at least had to, in order to accomplish his career goals. Wilder Green, an early employee of Rudolph, worked in his Florida office for a year in the early 50’s—a time when Rudolph had already established himself as a residential architect, but was seeking to expand the kinds of commissions he was receiving (so as to explore other building types.) In a 1991 interview with Sharon Zane, Green recalls:

WG: . . . In June of '52 I went to Sarasota, Florida, and worked for Paul Rudolph for a year. I was the only person in the office. He had an office about two thirds of the size of this room, and he lived at the back of it. Almost the day I arrived, he left to teach somewhere and left the office in my hands, practically. So it was marvelous training, but it was kind of a baptism by fire. I learned a lot in that year--in the scale of what he was building, which wasn't that big.

SZ: What was he building at that time?

WG: He was building houses primarily, but not exclusively. He was building several houses but he was also gradually getting involved in small office buildings and he was also working on a kind of a marine mini Disneyland structure in Florida. He was very active in teaching at Pennsylvania and Yale.

SZ: That was a lot of traveling he had to do.

WG: All the time. He was trying to get out of Florida as much as he could.

SZ: What was he like to work for?

WG: Very high-strung, ambitious, brilliant, in many ways unsure of himself I think would be the best way to describe him. He had a very short fuse, and yet, if you did something right he definitely gave you credit, he was appreciative. He had a complex combination of human characteristics, but he was extremely talented, and I learned a lot from him.

So we see, from even early in Rudolph’s career, travel was involved both for work and teaching.

Not too long before, Rudolph had seen Europe for the first time, through receiving Harvard’s Wheelwright Prize for travel (he was there from mid-1948 -to- mid-1949)—a life-changing experience. And he continued to travel internationally. Here are some pages from his US passport (the one issued to him in 1954)—and one can see evidence of his international treks from the passport stamps:

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Of course, in addition to work, there are all kinds of pleasures from travel. Rudolph was a great collector, and wherever he traveled picked-up objects—even occasionally real antiquities—that pleased his eye. Sometimes such acquisitions came about through serendipity, as in these washboards from Japan:

These wooden washboards, from Japan, all have slightly different forms. They are on display in the Paul Rudolph-designed duplex within the Modulightor Building. From the collection of Ernst Wagner.

These wooden washboards, from Japan, all have slightly different forms. They are on display in the Paul Rudolph-designed duplex within the Modulightor Building. From the collection of Ernst Wagner.

As further evidence of Rudolph’s embrace of travel—unto the end of his life—is this item. In the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is a small, red, hardcover ledger book:

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It is labeled: “Travel Book 1990, 1991”

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It records Rudolph’s travels and appointments from January 1, 1990 -to- December 6, 1991. While looking at it, the thing to remember is that Rudolph is well over 70 years old when this record was made—yet the book shows the great distances he’s still traveling, and frequently, mainly for work (and this is only the example what he’s doing in a single year):

  • Boston

  • Dallas-Fort Worth

  • Amarillo

  • San Francisco

  • Bangkok

  • Singapore

  • Hong Kong

  • London

  • Jakarta

  • Sydney

  • Perth

  • Istanbul

  • Rome

And, especially to meet his clients in Asia, he wasn’t going to to these locations just once: the record shows him going numerous times.

Interspersed with all this air-travel, to-and-from New York City, is shown his many appointments in the New York area—both professional and social—meetings, lunches, or dinners with people who are integral to his practice & life: Mrs. Bass, Emily Sherman, Ron Chin, Errol Barron, Bert Brosmith, Carl Black, George Ranalli, the Edersheims, George Beylerian, Ezra Stoller… and many others (plus giving lectures at Pratt and Harvard.)

Here are a few sample pages:

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You can imagine what a travel and meeting schedule like this would do to anybody—and the wear-and-tear to any human body. But one thing we can say for certain about Rudolph: He was determined.

An example of Paul Rudolph’s luggage. The layers of airport inspection stickers testify to his endless travel. From the collection of Ernst Wagner.

An example of Paul Rudolph’s luggage. The layers of airport inspection stickers testify to his endless travel. From the collection of Ernst Wagner.

A note from Yasmine

A goup photo with Yasmine Rajkarnicar (seated) on her last day of volunteering at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

A goup photo with Yasmine Rajkarnicar (seated) on her last day of volunteering at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

INTRODUCTION

Volunteering at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation matters and makes a difference - and we rely on volunteers to help us with our mission and to reach our goals. This year we were fortunate to have the help of several volunteers including Ethan Shapiro and Yasmine Rajkarnicar - who each brought a fresh perspective and a shared passion for Paul Rudolph’s work.

We received the following note from Yasmine Rajkarnicar. She recently returned to St. Cloud, Minnesota to study construction management at St. Cloud State University. Yasmine's enthusiasm and hard work were a great asset for us, helping with research and updates to our archives. It was also a plus that she loves brutalism :)


A SUMMER WITH PAUL RUDOLPH

I stumbled across the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s webpage one day as Summer was coming to a close and I was feeling that my Summer had not been exactly fulfilling. The Foundation had people like Anton Garcia Abril, Normal Foster and Iwan Baan follow them on Instagram. And I was fascinated to learn that their office was inside the iconic Modulightor building - the epitome of Paul Rudolph’s architecture of interconnected complex spaces, giving the feel of levitating planes and spaces. Before I knew it, I had signed up for a volunteer-internship with the Foundation and I was on my way to New York City.

During my time at the Foundation, I had the chance to explore many of Paul Rudolph’s wonderful buildings. I researched about the current condition of some Paul Rudolph houses and updated the Foundation’s website. I wrote a report on the Niagara Falls Public Library that is currently being threatened with demolition. My research assignments led me to books such as Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses, Paul Rudolph the Late Work by Roberto de Alba and magazines at USModernist. As I worked on Rudolph’s buildings, the story behind the design of each building came to life for me. I heard many interesting stories about Paul Rudolph’s life and his source of inspiration behind his buildings from his two best friends. The Foundation’s building is ornamented with Paul’s artifacts and drawings and it’s like a living documentary of Paul Rudolph’s life.

The office staff always seem like they are on an adventure or a mission of some kind, working on saving one building one day and another the next day. Kelvin Dickinson, the President of the Foundation, is always running from one state to another to gather more information or pictures of buildings threatened by demolition.

The office is busy with so many things going on and buzzing with exciting news about architecture and design. Everyone is constantly working on something and when we’re not working, we’re talking about Émilie du Châtelet or Ludwig Wittgenstein or Peter Eisenmann debates or Louis Barragan’s new documentary and of course, Paul Rudolph!

The Foundation also hosts many exciting events where a lot of design professionals, architecture enthusiasts and scholarly people come to socialize and network in this niche circle. I got to attend a ‘Women in Events’ party by peerspace, an open house party and Vladimir Belogolovsky’s (founder of the Intercontinental Curatorial Project) talk on the iconic Buildings of New York.

I learned so much more about architecture on the whole - concepts, issues and personalities. I didn’t expect to learn or do much at the Foundation, but I was actually given meaningful assignments and not just scanning or filing. I came out feeling inspired and transformed. I am not sure I actually did make a difference to the legacy of Paul Rudolph but what is important is that I felt like it in my own small way. Well, Mr. Rudolph ………...it’s been real! You just made my Summer of 2019!


Like Yasmine, you too can share your passion for Paul Rudolph’s work by volunteering with us. Join our dedicated team and help us preserve and share Paul Rudolph’s legacy. If you would like to know more, please reach out to us at office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

Tour Paul Rudolph's Light-Filled Library in Niagara Falls

An opportunity to take a deep look at the architecture of the Brydges Library in Niagara Falls—which has one of Paul Rudolph’s most luminous spaces.

An opportunity to take a deep look at the architecture of the Brydges Library in Niagara Falls—which has one of Paul Rudolph’s most luminous spaces.

NEXT WEEK: A SPECIAL TOUR OF A SPECIAL PLACE

Thursday, September 12, will be a tour of one of Paul Rudolph’s most luminous public buildings.

The Brydges Library—the central library of Niagara Falls, NY—was designed by Rudolph in 1969, at the height of his career.

A COMPELLING UNITY

The Brydges Library embodies most of what makes a Rudolph building so compelling…

  • interesting, interlocked geometries that are bathed in (and guide and modulate) the light

  • careful planning to arrange activities in a way that is enlivening and practical

  • bold and expressive use of structure and materials

  • sculptural mastery that brings the whole ensemble together into a forceful unity

The library’s entry facade, as seen in 1972, Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives

The library’s entry facade, as seen in 1972, Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives

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As an architect, Rudolph was the embodiment of daring—yet his work was tempered by years of experience in building, planning, and working with institutional clients. Photo by Kelvin Dickinson, courtesy the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation © the estate of Paul Rudolph

While the library’s sculpturally rugged exterior is certainly memorable, it is the light-filled interior—rising up three storeys to prominent clerestory windows—which uplifts the spirit. Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives

While the library’s sculpturally rugged exterior is certainly memorable, it is the light-filled interior—rising up three storeys to prominent clerestory windows—which uplifts the spirit. Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives

TOUR INFO

LOCATION: Earl W. Brydges Library Building

ADDRESS: 1425 Main St. Niagara Falls, NY 14305

DATE: September 12th

TIME: 3pm-5pm

RESERVATIONS: https://preservationbuffaloniagara.org/modernism-week/

BACKGROUND/DESCRIPTION: With the goals of city-wide revitalization and the provision of a larger library to its increased population, the city of Niagara Falls commissioned Paul Rudolph (a unanimous pick from a field of five finalists) to design this building, which was constructed from 1969-74. Each floor of the Brutalist structure has a distinct use, with library space on the first, an auditorium and offices on the second, local archives on the third, and mechanical equipment on the fourth, each getting smaller as they go up. Large dormers protrude from the roof, providing additional light and adding to the exterior’s dynamic, angled texture. Inside, the central space is open all the way up to the ceiling and is flooded by natural light from the clerestory windows.

MODERNISM WEEK

The tour is part of Buffalo/Niagara Falls’ MODERNISM WEEK in Western New York, which is put on by Preservation Buffalo Niagara—an organization established in 2008, committed to “bringing resources and results that ensure that our historic places thrive for generations to come.”

MODERNISM WEEK includes tours other great buildings in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and you can see the full schedule (and make reservations) here.

MODERNISM WEEK   , in the Buffalo-Niagara area, includes a number of beautiful sites, such as Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building in Buffalo. The above is an excerpt from their web page, which has the full schedule.

MODERNISM WEEK, in the Buffalo-Niagara area, includes a number of beautiful sites, such as Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building in Buffalo. The above is an excerpt from their web page, which has the full schedule.

A KEY book on Paul Rudolph: hard-to-find---But available from us!

Roberto de Alba’s book on the work of Paul Rudolph.   . It covers projects from the final phases of Rudolph’s half-century career—and was done with the architect’s input. Fortunately, copies are still available from the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Roberto de Alba’s book on the work of Paul Rudolph.. It covers projects from the final phases of Rudolph’s half-century career—and was done with the architect’s input. Fortunately, copies are still available from the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

A KEY WORK

The above book is important. It is one of the keys to understanding Paul Rudolph’s oeuvre, and well worth obtaining [which is not easy—but we can help you with that.]

But to unfold why it is so important needs a little background…

THE TRAJECTORY

Paul Rudolph said that his career would parallel Frank Lloyd Wright’s: early and growing fame (in both cases reaching international dimensions), then a lull, then a late flourishing—and finally a rising appreciation as historical assessments are made of 20th Century architects. It appears that Rudolph’s projection was right about the waves & troughs of both Wright’s and his own success. We should be clear that the rises and falls, that Rudolph was referring to, were in the domain of professional and public acclaim (with its real consequences for the number of commissions that came in—or the lack thereof). But he was not speaking of his or Wright’s creative powers: those remained undiminished (no matter the state of their success).

THE 3 PHASES

Rudolph’s half-century career is generally seen to be in 3 phases (related to where, geographically, he was situated):

  • Starting in Florida, right after World War II (centered in Sarasota—but extending throughout the state and beyond). In those years, he grew from being unknown-to-national stature.

  • Respect for his work increased to the point where he was selected to be the Chair of Yale’s school of architecture. It was at a relatively young age for that position—40—and he held that office from 1958 -to-1965. In that time his professional practice became extremely active. So he wound-up his Florida office and re-opened his firm in New Haven, near Yale.

  • Upon leaving the Chairmanship at Yale in 1965, he moved to New York. New York City remained his personal and professional home until his passing in 1997—though, for his work, he traveled nationwide and internationally.

Rudolph experienced his greatest success in the period that bridges from his time at Yale/New Haven -to- his initial five years in NYC: he had a chance to work on every kind of building type, do large-scale and prestigious commissions (including civic projects), and achieved world-encircling fame.

FAME, SUCCESS—AND THEN…

The archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation have clippings and reprints of articles on Rudolph, primarily from that 1950’s-to-1960’s era when it seemed that editors and writers couldn’t get enough of him. His multiple commissions, intense work ethic (which produced an incredible number of designs,) and legendary drawing skills resulted in widespread coverage in the press.

Paul Rudolph, and his Yale Art & Architecture Building, on the cover of Progressive Architecture in 1964—at the height of his fame.

Paul Rudolph, and his Yale Art & Architecture Building, on the cover of Progressive Architecture in 1964—at the height of his fame.

But, after that, the lull which Rudolph spoke of became very much the case: he was virtually ignored by the same media that had helped give him fame. He always had some work, but by the 1970’s the river of large commissions began to evaporate. Yet his career extended for yet another quarter-century, to the time of his passing in 1997—and indeed there was a final flourishing, with large and significant commissions coming in during Rudolph’s final decade-and-a-half (mainly from overseas.).

AND NOW: A RUDOLPH REVIVAL

We seem to be in the midst of a Paul Rudolph revival. Rudolph would have been 100 in 2018, and his centenary featured two exhibitions (and the publication of corresponding catalogs) and a series of exhibit-related events (all sponsored by the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation); and an all-day symposium at the Library of Congress; and the latest issue of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians features Rudolph’s Tuskegee Chapel on its cover (and contains a significant article on Rudolph by scholars Karla Cavarra Britton and Daniel Ledford,) In the previous year, a new anthology of Rudolph-focused papers had been published by Yale (“Reassessing Rudolph”.) All of this was preceded by Timothy M. Rohan’s comprehensive monograph on Rudolph, which had been published a few years before. And a new book on Rudolph, with an introduction by John Morris Dixon, has been announced for Fall 2019.

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Two views of one of the exhibits occasioned by Rudolph’s 100th birthday: “Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory.” The show was on display within the Rudolph-designed    Modulightor Building    in New York City, and featured original drawings and documents from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, loans from friends, prints from the Library of Congress, and models commissioned especially for the exhibit.

Two views of one of the exhibits occasioned by Rudolph’s 100th birthday: “Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory.” The show was on display within the Rudolph-designed Modulightor Building in New York City, and featured original drawings and documents from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, loans from friends, prints from the Library of Congress, and models commissioned especially for the exhibit.

THE BIG GAP

While Rudolph was extensively written and talked about during his most successful, mid-century period (with numerous articles and several books focused on him), there was not much available about that last period of his work, from about 1970 until his passing in 1997. Yet Rudolph was endlessly creative and still energetic when engaging with the projects of those final years—including ones of increasing scale and urban complexity. They show a designer who was able to make buildings and spaces of elegance, structural boldness, visual and spatial richness—and to work on an international scale.

FILLING THE GAP: DE ALBA AND RUDOLPH

Filling that informational gap is “Paul Rudolph: The Late Work,” by Roberto de Alba—a book which deals with a period of Rudolph’s work that had been unjustly under-covered and under-documented.

Roberto had met Rudolph when he was a student at Yale, through working on a 1987 exhibit, which he and a team of Yale architecture students had created about Rudolph’s iconic Yale Art & Architecture Building. Later, he spoke to the architect about doing a book on the later part of his oeuvre, and Rudolph agreed. Rudolph helped select the projects to be included, and when Roberto delved into the office’s files he found a treasure of creativity.

Roberto’s describes his approach to the book:

“In 1994 I approached Mr. Rudolph with an idea for a book that would document his work from 1970 onward. He seemed intrigued by my initiative, and we began working on an outline for the book. During the next three years, I visited Mr. Rudolph regularly, fist at his new office on 58th Street and later at his residence on Beekman Place, where he stored a huge number of drawing. We began by identifying a number of projects that would well represent the breath of his practice during those three decades Once the list was finalized, I searched the archives and office records systematically for every bit of information I could find relating to those projects. Rudolph was surprised by my interest in selecting “design process” drawings to represent the project but granted me the freedom to do so.”

He further explains:

“I saw the drawings, particularly the pencil sketches, and still see them today as evidence of his enormous talent and love for the art of building.”

In addition to the projects shown—the body of the book—there are further treasures in this volume: Mildred Schmertz’s insightful Forward, the penetrating Introduction by Robert Bruegmann, and the transcript of a fascinating Conversation between Rudolph and Peter Blake.

A BOOK THAT’S HARD TO GET—BUT IS OBTAINABLE THROUGH US

Yes, copies of Paul Rudolph: The Late Work are purchasable through the usual on-line booksellers: but only at high prices—often hundreds of dollars.

But there’s some Good News about that:

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation has copies available (and for a low price)—and you can order them on our website through this “shop” page.

Roberto de Alba’s book is a source for the study of Paul Rudolph—to see the level of creativity that Rudolph offered—even until his last days.

To give you a sense of the visual richness of the book, below are several selections: pages showing drawings and photos of some of Rudolph’s projects. On view here are: the Modulightor Building in New York; the Concourse Building in Singapore; and Rudolph’s own home: his “Quadruplex” townhouse & apartment on Beekman Place in NY (including a section drawing which shows the intensity with which he studied the possibilities for those spaces.)

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PICASSO’S [SCULPTURE’S] COUSIN ?!? (and the RUDOLPH CONNECTION)

Picasso’s “Bust of Sylvette” sculpture in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Image courtesy of    Art Nerd New York

Picasso’s “Bust of Sylvette” sculpture in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Image courtesy of Art Nerd New York

Picasso’s sculpture—also named “Sylvette” —in Rotterdam. Image courtesy of Wikipedia, photo by K. Siereveld

Picasso’s sculpture—also named “Sylvette” —in Rotterdam. Image courtesy of Wikipedia, photo by K. Siereveld

AS WE WERE SAYING…

In a previous post we spoke about what we believed to be Paul Rudolph’s project for a visitors & arts center for the University of South Florida’s Tampa-area campus. It was to include a monumental concrete statue by Picasso—which, had it been constructed, would have been enormous: over 100 feet tall. Here is the perspective drawing for the proposed building, which shows the sculpture as part of the overall composition:

Rendering of the proposed visitors and arts center for the University of South Florida in Tampa. Picasso’s sculpture, which was to sit on the adjacent plaza, would have been a massive presence. Image courtesy of the USF Special Collection Library

Rendering of the proposed visitors and arts center for the University of South Florida in Tampa. Picasso’s sculpture, which was to sit on the adjacent plaza, would have been a massive presence. Image courtesy of the USF Special Collection Library

What prompted us to explore this project is that visitors to the Modulightor Building in New York are intrigued by a Picasso sculpture which is on display within the building: a copy of the original maquette for that monumental sculpture:

Picasso’s maquette for the sculpture that was to go on the plaza of the University of South Florida. This authorized copy of the maquette is in the Modulightor Building in New York. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Picasso’s maquette for the sculpture that was to go on the plaza of the University of South Florida. This authorized copy of the maquette is in the Modulightor Building in New York. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

That’s an authorized copy: Paul Rudolph obtained permission from Picasso to make it, because Rudolph admired Picasso’s sculpture so much.

In our earlier post, we’d given an art-biographical context these sculptures, noting other examples of Picasso’s work at monumental public scale. The prime example cited is his large work in New York City’s Greenwich Village: the concrete “Bust of Sylvette”:

Picasso’s Sylvette, in the midst of the I.M. Pei’s “Silver Towers” in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Image courtesy of    Ephemeral New York

Picasso’s Sylvette, in the midst of the I.M. Pei’s “Silver Towers” in NYC’s Greenwich Village. Image courtesy of Ephemeral New York

STILL, THEY’RE COUSINS…

Well, we’ve just heard about another sculpture by Picasso that we thought you’d like to know about—and this one has a similar title: “Sylvette”. It is located in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and is in the city’s center, on a site on the Westersingel canal.

That ever-fascinating website, Atlas Obscura, has done a story about it (which drew our attention to the Rotterdam “Sylvette”), and it includes several photos showing the sculpture in its urban setting:

A screen grab from Atlas Obscura’s    web page,showing the Picasso “Sylvette” in Rotterdam   .

A screen grab from Atlas Obscura’s web page,showing the Picasso “Sylvette” in Rotterdam.

At the Sculpture International Rotterdam website, there are several pages on the sculpture, including a full essay, and also information on the various sites it has occupied in Rotterdam.

Is the Rotterdam sculpture a sister with the one in New York?

Cousins?

You decide!

A HALF-CENTURY LATER—AND RUDOLPH IS STILL AVANT GARDE

Underground Interiors, published in 1972, showcased some of the world’s most unique, quirky, and creative new interior designs—tangible manifestations of that experimental late 60’s/early 70’s era. A work of Rudolph’s was included—of course!.

Underground Interiors, published in 1972, showcased some of the world’s most unique, quirky, and creative new interior designs—tangible manifestations of that experimental late 60’s/early 70’s era. A work of Rudolph’s was included—of course!.

UNDERGROUND—AND FAMOUS

We sometimes speak of Underground Culture: productions by independent makers, groups, and communities, which were created apart from the mainstream—and often in pointed challenge to it. The most well-known application of the term underground is in “Underground films”—like the kind originally associated with Andy Warhol and other independent filmmakers. Calling them “underground” allegedly came about because of where such films were first screened: literally, in basements—though the association of “underground” with secrecy and daring (and even Dostoevsky) may have given them some cachet.

Poster advertising several underground films, featuring one by Andy Warhol’s, for a showing in 1967. Poster courtesy of the    Underground Film Journal   .

Poster advertising several underground films, featuring one by Andy Warhol’s, for a showing in 1967. Poster courtesy of the Underground Film Journal.

The use of the term spread, and—while it certainly had a political face—”underground” was applied to all kinds of new and experimental things happening in the 60’s and 70’s:

  • Underground Press

  • Underground Music

  • Underground Comics (of which Robert Crumb is the most famous practitioner)

  • Underground Clubs

  • And even a popular guide to offbeat restaurants, The Underground Gourmet

An example of “underground” culture extending into wider use: the great designers, Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder, had a column in New York Magazine about restaurants that were out of the mainstream. Their recommendations were collected into a book, which used the zesty graphic style which they had pioneered. Image: Design of the book: by Glaser and Snyder

An example of “underground” culture extending into wider use: the great designers, Milton Glaser and Jerome Snyder, had a column in New York Magazine about restaurants that were out of the mainstream. Their recommendations were collected into a book, which used the zesty graphic style which they had pioneered. Image: Design of the book: by Glaser and Snyder

Even if you were labeled “underground”, that didn’t mean you couldn’t become famous—and Warhol, Pink Floyd, and Crumb are probably the most recognized example of that. Today marketers speak of an “underground brand” —and it’s a useful association (especially when promoting to the mainstream) to connect ones product with, in Ian Volmer’s superb phrase, “a soupçon of subversion.”

 UNDERGROUND DESIGN?

If films, music,media, and even restaurants could be “underground”, then why not design too?

By the mid-60’s, a spirit of cultural rebellion and lifestyle adventurousness was sprouting in every domain—and in just a few years designs with “experimental” color, layout, materials, and function were beginning to appear in design magazines. Ultimately, this included architecture—but buildings are expensive and clients are, on-the-whole, conservative. So this explosion of colorful creativity first manifest in interiors: after all, they’re more personal, temporary, and (compared to whole buildings) lower-budget—and thus more likely to be the sites, at least initially, for adventurous design.

A collection of these interiors was brought together for a 1972 book, Underground Interiors: Decorating For Alternative Lifestyles. It showed some of the most exciting designs to date, and the book was published by The New York Times.

The book’s writer-editor was Norma Skurka, Home Editor of the New York Times. The photographer, Oberto Gili, has a distinguished career taking photos of a great range of subjects—including interiors.

The book’s writer-editor was Norma Skurka, Home Editor of the New York Times. The photographer, Oberto Gili, has a distinguished career taking photos of a great range of subjects—including interiors.

Oberto Gili—still an active photographer, with a creative portfolio—started the book project for the publisher L’Esperto. When they dropped the venture, it was picked-up by the New York Times’ long-time Home Editor (and prolific author) —who no doubt (having also worked for House Beautiful, Interior Design, and Contract magazines,) was aware of the most exciting interiors then being done—and together they completed the book.

 SURREALIST, RADICAL, POP, SPACE AGE…

Those are not our descriptions of the work they included in the book—they were the author’s, appearing unabashed on their contents page. While some of the designers and artistic personalities they included have fallen into obscurity, a number of them were already gaining prominence.

Before he achieved ultra-stardom in the world of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld was already making fascinating juxtapositions, as in his own apartment:

A spread from the book, showing Karl Lagerfeld’s combination bath-sitting room, and gym-bedroom, for his Paris apartment.

A spread from the book, showing Karl Lagerfeld’s combination bath-sitting room, and gym-bedroom, for his Paris apartment.

Dream, parade, or baking contest?—this Paris home offered them all at once:

A spread showing the Paris home of Antony and Dorothee Miralda offers treats that are visual (and possibly edible)

A spread showing the Paris home of Antony and Dorothee Miralda offers treats that are visual (and possibly edible)

The book came out at in the midst of the US space program’s most active period—and some interiors embodied that futuristic flavor:

A spread from the “Space Age Habitations” section of the book, showing the home Victor Lukens designed for himself.

A spread from the “Space Age Habitations” section of the book, showing the home Victor Lukens designed for himself.

One of the most influential designers included in the book was Gamal El-Zoghby. “Minimalism” does not do justice to the careful thought and planning he brought to each project. His modulated spaces, carpet-covered platforms, deftly-detailed built-ins, and hidden storage (designed to lower the distractions of everyday life) inspired a generation of designers—and helped create the vocabulary for multi-level living spaces.

A page from the book showing an El-Zoghby design: a NY apartment for entertainer Jackie Mason.

A page from the book showing an El-Zoghby design: a NY apartment for entertainer Jackie Mason.

RUDOLPH: AVANT GARDE AND TIMELESS ?

Paul Rudolph, most known for his muscular buildings, was also focused on interiors. He used his own home and office spaces as laboratories, trying out different spatial arrangements, lighting techniques, materials, and details—and, if pleased by the results of those experiments, he’s apply some of those lessons to the work he did for clients. [This was the subject of the Rudolph centennial exhibit, Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory] Rudolph had a significant number of commissions for interior design, most often residential, but sometimes commercial (including an innovative dental office!)

In Rudolph’s design for a home of Mr. & Mrs. Elman in Manhattan, the walls remained unchanged—but he was able to shape the existing spaces through the placement of hanging light fixtures (of his own design) on an unexpectedly low plane, textures that flowed from floors to furnishings, and the creation of a living room that partakes more of landscaping than of traditional notions of room design.

Rudolph’s shows up too: a page in the Underground Interiors book.

Rudolph’s shows up too: a page in the Underground Interiors book.

Here’s the book’s caption, with what the author’s had to say about Rudolph’s interior:

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Many of the rooms in the book (a sample of which we’ve shown above) are amusing, but also like they’re “of their time” [and maybe a bit too much so?] If “timelessness” is one of the criteria for good design, It’s hard to imagine—with some exceptions, like El-Zoghby—later designers choosing to create them.

What about Rudolph’s design?

It is nearly 50 years since he received the commission. Yes, back then, it was an era identified with “shag carpets”—and we all make fun of that. So if Rudolph were doing this interior today, he might dial-back the woolly-mammoth textures a bit.

But—

But the room still looks striking, enticing, fun—and quite livable and flexible: a place one would like to visit and hang-out. A place that could accommodate a large party, yet maintains a sense of intimacy. A place to unwind—and a place to be theatrical. A place to shock—and a place to relax. We contend that Rudolph’s design, overall, holds-up rather well, even a half-century after its conception—another sign of a master.

Our Search for the Unknown (and 4 Newly Discovered Paul Rudolph Projects!)

The “Kincade” is the name of a mid-1950’s house design by Paul Rudolph. It was published as a “Home-of-the-Month”—apparently part of a series of home designs available to the public through lumber yards and construction supply companies. This image is from a 1954 article in the Denton Journal.

The “Kincade” is the name of a mid-1950’s house design by Paul Rudolph. It was published as a “Home-of-the-Month”—apparently part of a series of home designs available to the public through lumber yards and construction supply companies. This image is from a 1954 article in the Denton Journal.

WE HAVE A LITTLE LIST….

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is making a complete record of all Rudolph’s projects—and currently there are over 300 projects on it. To the maximum extent possible—that is to say, findable—for each project we try to include comprehensive info: its exact location, names of all participants, budget, primary materials, drawings, pictures of models, construction photos, as-built photos…

BUT HISTORY IS HARD

You’ll notice that we said “currently”, for the list is still still growing. Now that may seem to be a strange thing to say about the work of an architect who passed away over 2 decades go: it’s not as though he’s kept creating more works that we need to keep track of. So it’s reasonable to assume and ask: Wouldn’t the record be complete by now?

Well, it’s not that simple.

Creating an accurate catalog of all of Paul Rudolph’s work, and finding the above-mentioned full range of data & images for each project, is a more challenging task than you might expect...

On the one hand:

Rudolph did not make it easy for us. Yes, he made his own official lists of commissions and projects—and those would appear in monographs, or be given to journalists or potential clients. Across a prolific career that lasted more than half-a-century, Rudolph kept editing those lists: adding new projects as they arose, and deleting ones which he considered less important. That’s a natural process for any architect—but some of the projects on those ever-evolving lists are just names to us, without barely any traces in books about him (or the hundreds of articles written about Rudolph.)

Here’s an example. One list includes “Dance Studio and Apartments” For that project, who was the client and what was the scope? All we presently know about that project is that it was from 1978, and was located somewhere in the Northeast. Was a design offered? If you look at our “Project Pages”—and we make one for each Rudolph project that we know of (the’re like our on-line file for each of Rudolph’s works)—you’ll find that some project pages are rich with information & images. But our page for the “Dance Studio and Apartment” is just a “place-holder”, currently containing only the most skeletal of info. We’d love to see some photos or drawings—but none have been found [yet.]

One prime source, for those researching Paul Rudolph, is the Library of Congress’ archive of Rudolph drawings & files: it runs to hundreds-of-thousands of items (all made before computers entered architectural offices—so they were drawn by-hand or typed). While there’s a general inventory, the only way to really know what’s in the archive is to go there and look—so we make repeated visits to Washington to do research within those rich holdings. [Perhaps, in one of those research trips, we’ll find out something on that “Dance Studio and Apartment.” ]

Sometimes we do have just a little info about a project—a single drawing—which makes us want to see more. For example: Rudolph had international commissions, including a few for Europe. A magazine showed a drawing for a house proposed for Cannes: the Pilsbury Residence. But that drawing is all we’ve ever come across about it. What was the project’s history? Was it built? We’re keen to find out.

The Pilsbury Residence, a design from 1972. All we’ve seen—so far—of this project is this intriguing section sketch by Rudolph. It was published in a Japanese architecture magazine (in an issue entirely devoted to Rudolph’s work), and was designed for Cannes, France. It is one of Rudolph’s few works for Europe—N.B the dimensions seem to be in metric. The project’s name and proposed location is all that we know about it—so far. We’re hoping future research will reveal more. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The Pilsbury Residence, a design from 1972. All we’ve seen—so far—of this project is this intriguing section sketch by Rudolph. It was published in a Japanese architecture magazine (in an issue entirely devoted to Rudolph’s work), and was designed for Cannes, France. It is one of Rudolph’s few works for Europe—N.B the dimensions seem to be in metric. The project’s name and proposed location is all that we know about it—so far. We’re hoping future research will reveal more. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Then there are the times when it is clear that something’s been built—but we know little else. For example: Rudolph was asked to design an office for a prominent Texan, Stanley Marsh III, and we’ve been able to find a single image of it for our project page—but, so far, that’s all we know.

The office of Stanley Marsh III —an interior Rudolph designed in Amarillo, Texas in 1980. Marsh (1938-2014) was quite a character, and—in his capacity as art patron—is most famous for commissioning the legendary art installation “ Cadillac Ranch ” by the art-design group,  Ant Farm . Marsh also commissioned Rudolph to design  a television station  (also in Amarillo) that was constructed in the same year as the above office. Marsh was a great collector, as one can see in the works accumulated in this photo. But what was Paul Rudolph’s involvement in this office’s design?  Modulightor —the lighting fixture company that Rudolph co-founded, and whose system of fixtures he designed—was started about the time of this project. So might the lighting system (seen on the office’s ceiling) be one that Rudolph planned and then specified from Modulightor? Are there other aspects of the office, not viewable in this shot, that Rudolph designed? More mysteries to be investigated!

The office of Stanley Marsh III—an interior Rudolph designed in Amarillo, Texas in 1980. Marsh (1938-2014) was quite a character, and—in his capacity as art patron—is most famous for commissioning the legendary art installation “Cadillac Ranch” by the art-design group, Ant Farm. Marsh also commissioned Rudolph to design a television station (also in Amarillo) that was constructed in the same year as the above office. Marsh was a great collector, as one can see in the works accumulated in this photo. But what was Paul Rudolph’s involvement in this office’s design? Modulightor—the lighting fixture company that Rudolph co-founded, and whose system of fixtures he designed—was started about the time of this project. So might the lighting system (seen on the office’s ceiling) be one that Rudolph planned and then specified from Modulightor? Are there other aspects of the office, not viewable in this shot, that Rudolph designed? More mysteries to be investigated!

Moreover, Rudolph was not the best record-keeper. Yes, his office [or rather, offices—as he started/re-started several, as his career took him around the country] had the sort of record-keeping systems which were standard for architectural offices in the post-World War II era of professional practice in the US. They maintained “time sheets” (or cards) to keep track of the hours that each staff member devoted to a project, as well as notes and files of various kinds were made (about meetings with clients, sketches, bids, construction field-reports, engineering, correspondence, etc..). But there was nothing like a company historian to keep a meticulous record of what was going on—and, going through the files, one gets the feeling that Rudolph was so busy that they just recorded (and kept the papers) of what was absolutely necessary to keep their various projects moving along.

A blank time card from from Paul Rudolph’s office—a fairly standard example of the type of record-keeping that would be used in architects offices in the US. Staff would fill these out to show how much time they’d devoted to each project, and submit them weekly. The resulting info would be used for billing. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

A blank time card from from Paul Rudolph’s office—a fairly standard example of the type of record-keeping that would be used in architects offices in the US. Staff would fill these out to show how much time they’d devoted to each project, and submit them weekly. The resulting info would be used for billing. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

On the other hand:

Doing this research brings a continuous (and delightful) sense of adventure! As we come across new projects, images, and documents, we discover more layers of Paul Rudolph’s creativity—and also have an ever-enlarging sense the great range of design challenges with which he was willing to engage.

OUR FOUR LATEST DISCOVERIES: PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN (OR “UNDER-DOCUMENTED”) RUDOLPH PROJECTS

In the last few weeks, we’ve come across 4 previously-unlisted projects—or ones with so little info (“under-documented) that they remain mysteries to be solved.

ONE: “KINCAID” HOUSE DESIGN

Newspaper articles from 1954 and 1955 show a house designed by Rudolph, the “Kincaid”. They were part of a series, the “House-of-the-Month”. These were a collections of house designs—often by skilled architects and well-thought-out, with good layouts, and planned for efficient construction. They were offered to the public via advertisements and books. Such books, which usually showed a dozen-or-more different designs (of various styles, sizes, and budgets) were available at lumber yards, building-supply stores, and newsstands. The info on each house design usually included a perspective rendering, floor plans, basic data, and a brief written description—and every house received a name. If one liked a house, complete plans & specifications could be ordered for a modest fee.

An example of a House-of-the-Month book: a collection, in booklet form, of available architectural designs for houses.”by leading architects.” A quarterly publication of the Monthly Small House Club, Inc,, this one is from 1951 (a few years before Rudolph’s “Kincaid” house came out.)

An example of a House-of-the-Month book: a collection, in booklet form, of available architectural designs for houses.”by leading architects.” A quarterly publication of the Monthly Small House Club, Inc,, this one is from 1951 (a few years before Rudolph’s “Kincaid” house came out.)

While, via this system, an architect did not get to make a custom solution for a client, he was able to exercise his creative ability to design a workable, affordably house that had a sense of style—and enough generic good qualities that it might appeal to multiple clients. So the advantage for the architect was that he might be rewarded with many small fees for the same design [Or perhaps he received a flat-fee from the publisher? Arrangements may have varied.] Such “plans service” companies continued to exist for decades—and even have a recent incarnation in the Katrina Cottages—and their impact on the American housing market would make an interesting study. Evidently, as shown by the “Kincaid,” Rudolph participated in this system—though on what terms (or what he ultimately thought of it) remains a mystery.

TWO: DANCE STUDIO AND OFFICES IN FORT WORTH

The May/June 1998 issue of Texas Architect ran an article surveying the work that Rudolph had done in Texas. Max Gunderson’s text reviews the origin and history of each project.

Texas Architect has been published since 1950, and you can access    its full archive of back issues    at their website. It was the above issue that included    Max Gunderson’s excellent article surveying Rudolph’s work in that state   .

Texas Architect has been published since 1950, and you can access its full archive of back issues at their website. It was the above issue that included Max Gunderson’s excellent article surveying Rudolph’s work in that state.

In the course of speaking about one of Rudolph’s most splendid house designs—the Bass Residence in Fort Worth—he also mentions:

Rudolph would also design the Fort Worth School of Ballet for Anne Bass, a simple teaching/workspace and offices in a retail strip.

Since a great architect can bring “an extra something” to even the simplest projects, we’d love to see what Rudolph came up with here.


THREE: BAHRAIN NATIONAL CULTURAL CENTER

We’ve heard that Rudolph was involved in a project to design a cultural center for Bahrain. This may have been as part of a design competition. There’s a transcript of an oral history interview with Lawrence B. Anderson (1906-1994): he was an architect who was already well familiar with Rudolph—his firm was the associate architect, with Paul Rudolph, for the Jewett Arts Center at Wellesley (and that transcript has interesting things to say about that project.) Anderson participated in a 1976 jury to review the proposed designs for the Bahrain National Cultural Center, and in the transcript he speaks of the process and cultural context—but he doesn’t name the competitors or winners. So we don’t have a confirmation—at least from that one source—as to whether Rudolph was a competitor (of if he “placed”). We’d like to know more about this project—and, of course, we will welcome any “leads” that our readers submit.

By-the-way: it’s worth noting that, across his half-century career, Rudolph was involved in several projects for the mid-east. Among them: a US embassy for Jordan, a sports stadium for Saudi Arabia, and an apartment-hotel in Israel—none of which, unfortunately, reached construction stage.


FOUR: HUNTS POINT MARKET, NEW YORK CITY

Hunts Point Market (or, more formally, the Hunts Point Cooperative Market), in New York’s borough of the Bronx, is one of the the largest wholesale food markets int the world—and a large portion of the food (produce, meat, and fish) consumed in the New York City metropolitan area is provided through it. Occupying 60 acres in the Hunts Point neighborhood, and it's annual revenues exceed $2 billion.

During the administration of NYC Mayor Robert F. Wagner, market facilities were constructed in 1962: a 40-acre facility with six buildings—and now the Market consists of seven large refrigerated/freezer buildings on 60 acres.

New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman look at architect's drawing of new Hunts Point Market during the 1962 ground breaking ceremonies in the Bronx, NYC. The year of this image, and the fact that Wagner was New York City’s mayor just prior to Mayor John V. Lindsay, suggests that the design shown is the market that was built prior to the announcement that Rudolph would become involved. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman look at architect's drawing of new Hunts Point Market during the 1962 ground breaking ceremonies in the Bronx, NYC. The year of this image, and the fact that Wagner was New York City’s mayor just prior to Mayor John V. Lindsay, suggests that the design shown is the market that was built prior to the announcement that Rudolph would become involved. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

But it seems that during the administration of the next mayor (John V. Lindsay), it was planned that Paul Rudolph was to have some involvement in further development of the Hunts Point market facilities. At least that’s what a document, from the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, seems to indicate. We’ve found a press release from the Office of the Mayor, dated May 2, 1967, in which Lindsay appoints Rudolph

“… as supervising architect for the Hunts Point food processing and distribution center. Mr. Rudolph will be responsible for the project design, for designing many of the market buildings in the project and setting all design and structural specifications for the development.”

Most of the rest of the press release praises Rudolph, and says nice things about the importance of the Hunts Point market and its location. But there’s not much more about the nature of the project, except the text again refers to food “processing”—so the new buildings, which Rudolph was to work on, might likely have accommodated facilities for the transformation of food (as distinct from marketing/distribution).

Lindsay was mayor during one of the city’s (and nation’s) most exciting and also most difficult periods, with his administration lasting from 1966-1973.. He is often evaluated as a a "good guy” with positive ideals, but one who was up against the tumultuous churnings of in NYC’s/country’s politics, economy, and culture in those tough and “crazy” years of the late 60’s-to-early-’70’s. This was richly shown in a 2010 exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, as well as the accompanying book.

It was NYC mayor John V. Lindsay who announced that Rudolph would be involved in the Hunts Point Market. Many aspects of the exciting and difficult years of his administration were on display in a 2010 exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York,    for which this was accompanying book.

It was NYC mayor John V. Lindsay who announced that Rudolph would be involved in the Hunts Point Market. Many aspects of the exciting and difficult years of his administration were on display in a 2010 exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York, for which this was accompanying book.

Lindsay’s administration did have a number of innovative construction initiatives (preponderantly in housing)—and this Hunts Point project might have been one of them.

The further evidence of Rudolph’s involvement is an item in the archives of the Library of Congress: a photos of a rendering of the old (1962) market design, with some markings on it—and the Library’s notes say that it was donated by “Rudolph Assoc., Architects”. Below is a small image of it. We’d guess that means it came into their possession as part of the large body of Paul Rudolph material that he donated to them—but that’s only a reasonable surmise.

So this is another example of a project that deserves further research. Did Rudolph produce a planning study and designs for it? Why did it not go forward? We’ve heard that there’s an archive of papers related to the Lindsay years: perhaps they’ll have some further information? We’ll let you know if we find anything.

A tiny image, from the Library of Congress, found when researching the Hunts Point project. It appears to be the same architect’s rendering (not by Rudolph) as shown in the photo above, but with some additional marks on it. What makes it intriguing is that the library’s info on this print says that it was contributed by “Rudolph Assoc.” Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

A tiny image, from the Library of Congress, found when researching the Hunts Point project. It appears to be the same architect’s rendering (not by Rudolph) as shown in the photo above, but with some additional marks on it. What makes it intriguing is that the library’s info on this print says that it was contributed by “Rudolph Assoc.” Image courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

WANTED: HISTORY DETECTIVES & TREASURE HUNTERS

If you love mysteries, and would like to help us learn more about these projects, we’d welcome your help!

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is always looking for volunteers—including those who’d enjoy tracking-down information on Rudolph’s “under-documented” projects (like these—but there numerous others). Or perhaps you know something about the above-mentioned projects, and would be willing to share that info with us.

We’re seeking to build an archive & database that students, scholars, building owners, designers, and journalists will really find useful—and your help on these research projects would be welcome! You can always reach us through:

https://www.paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org/contact-us

Paul Rudolph Estate Announces Licensing Agreement for Paul Rudolph’s Architectural Works

CONTACT:
Kelvin Dickinson
kelvin.dickinson@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org
+1 (917) 242-0652

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 08/20/19 3­­­­:16 p.m. ET

NEW YORK, NY (August 20, 2019) –The Paul Rudolph estate today announced a representation agreement regarding the intellectual property rights to the architectural works of legendary Late Modernist Paul Rudolph.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Paul Rudolph estate authorizes the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation to act as its exclusive worldwide representative with regard to licensing third parties for any and all uses of the intellectual property rights of the Works of Paul Rudolph.

“The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is dedicated to communicating, preserving and extending the legacy of world renowned architect Paul Marvin Rudolph,” said Kelvin Dickinson, President of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.  “It is an honor to be entrusted by the Paul Rudolph estate with representing such a distinguished and legendary career.”

Ernst Wagner, Executor of the Paul Rudolph estate stated, “It is the common objective of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation and the Estate of Paul Rudolph to carry out Rudolph’s wish to preserve and publicize his professional architectural career.  In carrying out these objectives, it is the goal of the Foundation and the Estate to promote and engage in such activities, which increase the appreciation, understanding, accessibility, study and preservation of Rudolph’s architectural career. The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation has our full support to ensure Paul Rudolph’s legacy endures and recognition of his work continues to grow.”                            

About the Paul Rudolph Estate

Ernst Wagner, a personal friend of Paul Rudolph and owner of Modulightor, a lighting company they co-founded is both the Executor of Paul Rudolph’s will and the beneficiary of his estate.  Mr. Rudolph passed away in 1997.

About the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation is a New York City-based non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded by Ernst Wagner to fulfill Paul Rudolph’s wish that an organization be created to preserve his architectural legacy.  Through preservation and advocacy efforts, educational initiatives, public events and maintaining and developing an archive of written and graphic materials, the Foundation seeks to communicate the legacy of this unique American architect in a larger architectural and cultural context to interested students, journalists, scholars, and the general public. 

For more information on the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, visit www.paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org and find the foundation on Twitter (@PaulRudolphHF), Facebook (@paulrudolphheritagefoundation) and Instagram (@paulrudolphfoundation).

Download the press release here.

Celebrating NATIONAL AVIATION WEEK - with Paul Rudolph !

A comprehensive designer is interested in (and interested in designing) Everything! Here are two scenes from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City proposal—these showing examples of his flying saucer-esque personal helicopters, as well as his curious and intriguing designs for various types of roadsters and ships. Image    courtesy of Wikipedia   .

A comprehensive designer is interested in (and interested in designing) Everything! Here are two scenes from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City proposal—these showing examples of his flying saucer-esque personal helicopters, as well as his curious and intriguing designs for various types of roadsters and ships. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

National Aviation Week got off to a flying start on August 19th—and who better to celebrate it with than Paul Rudolph!

But hold on. Other architects have clear connections with flight. Eero Saarinen, Helmut Jahn, Minoru Yamasaki, I.M. Pei, and SOM (and, most recently, Zaha Hadid) designed some great Modern airport terminals. And Le Corbusier and Wright included aviation imagery (and fantasy) into their manifestos and projections of future living.

Le Corbusier even write a whole book expressing his delight in flight and aircraft—and used them as a symbol for forward-looking thought as well as aesthetics. His book, “Aircraft” came out in 1935, Image courtesy of    Irving Zucker Art Books.

Le Corbusier even write a whole book expressing his delight in flight and aircraft—and used them as a symbol for forward-looking thought as well as aesthetics. His book, “Aircraft” came out in 1935, Image courtesy of Irving Zucker Art Books.

Other futurists incorporated airships into inventive notions of how constrution would proceed in days to come, as in this example from Buckminster Fuller:

This is one of Buckminster Fuller’s many inventive ideas of how we could live and build in the future. He envisioned an airship delivering one of his apartment houses—so efficiently designed that the fully constructed building was light-enough to lift by dirigible—to the site. But the building would be lowered into its foundation only after the ship first dropped an explosive charge to make the hole!

This is one of Buckminster Fuller’s many inventive ideas of how we could live and build in the future. He envisioned an airship delivering one of his apartment houses—so efficiently designed that the fully constructed building was light-enough to lift by dirigible—to the site. But the building would be lowered into its foundation only after the ship first dropped an explosive charge to make the hole!

Rudolph never completed an airport. But he certainly did propose one—and it was a design with strong architectural character and inventive ideas.

Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses, by Christopher Domin and Christopher King, is an indispensable resource for learning about the first phase of Rudolph’s career. Although the book focuses on his residential designs—the preponderance of the commissions Rudolph was receiving then—it also includes his work on other building types: schools, restaurants, beach clubs, an office building—and an airport.

Rudolph’s site plan , from the mid=1950’s, for a proposed new terminal for the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport in Florida. His terminal building is at the left side of the drawing. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Rudolph’s site plan , from the mid=1950’s, for a proposed new terminal for the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport in Florida. His terminal building is at the left side of the drawing. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

According to Domin’s and King’s book, Rudolph’s proposed terminal would have replaced a “primitive” existing structure, and the new building would have included “…an air traffic control tower, overnight accommodations, eating facilities, and a large swimming pool to accommodate the weary traveler.” Moreover, according to an Architectural Record article of February 1957, “The qualities of lightness and precision felt necessary to an airport have been sought throughout.”—and this was conveyed by the use of open web columns and trusses.

The building, as designed, did not proceed due to budgetary issues—but we can still see that Rudolph was as inspired by aviation as many of the other master architects of his age. So let’s celebrate National Aviation Week with a toast to Paul Rudolph’s aerial aspirations!

An aerial view of the proposed terminal (dramatically drawn in 3 point perspective—a rare technique for Rudolph, or any architect). In this rendering, originally published in Architectural Record, the roof is lifted off in order to reveal the various functional areas of the building. Toward the front is a rather sizable swimming pool (as signaled by the diving board)—a nearly-unknown feature for any airport (but one that might have fit unusually well for this building’s Florida setting). Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

An aerial view of the proposed terminal (dramatically drawn in 3 point perspective—a rare technique for Rudolph, or any architect). In this rendering, originally published in Architectural Record, the roof is lifted off in order to reveal the various functional areas of the building. Toward the front is a rather sizable swimming pool (as signaled by the diving board)—a nearly-unknown feature for any airport (but one that might have fit unusually well for this building’s Florida setting). Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Rudolph’s rendering of the inside of the main concourse. The double-height space is supported by the kind of trussed structures whose forms were associated with airplane construction—-the high-tech of its time. Yet there are pure architectural grace-notes, like the grand spiraling stair seen at the far-right end of the space, which connects the main floor with the upper galleries. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Rudolph’s rendering of the inside of the main concourse. The double-height space is supported by the kind of trussed structures whose forms were associated with airplane construction—-the high-tech of its time. Yet there are pure architectural grace-notes, like the grand spiraling stair seen at the far-right end of the space, which connects the main floor with the upper galleries. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

An exterior side elevation of the terminal building. The capsule-like control tower [another saucer?—perhaps Rudolph saw Wright’s renderings?] is in the background at the right. The building’s columns appear to flare outward at their tops: a form reminiscent of the profile of ancient Minoan columns—and a silhouette that would be seen in later architectural works—from Rudolph to Nervi to Leon Krier. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

An exterior side elevation of the terminal building. The capsule-like control tower [another saucer?—perhaps Rudolph saw Wright’s renderings?] is in the background at the right. The building’s columns appear to flare outward at their tops: a form reminiscent of the profile of ancient Minoan columns—and a silhouette that would be seen in later architectural works—from Rudolph to Nervi to Leon Krier. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s rendering for the    Greeley Memorial Laboratory for the Yale Forestry School—   a building, on the Yale Campus, which he designed within a couple of years of his proposal for the Florida airport. While the columns at Greeley were of precast concrete    (with mathematically-derived sculptural curves)   , their overall silhouette is reminiscent of the tops of the columns at for the airport—so might it be that the airport terminal project was where those forms germinated? Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s rendering for the Greeley Memorial Laboratory for the Yale Forestry School—a building, on the Yale Campus, which he designed within a couple of years of his proposal for the Florida airport. While the columns at Greeley were of precast concrete (with mathematically-derived sculptural curves), their overall silhouette is reminiscent of the tops of the columns at for the airport—so might it be that the airport terminal project was where those forms germinated? Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Niagara Falls' Rudolph Masterpiece—but are we going to lose it?

Niagara Kidder-smith best view.jpg

The Earl. W. Brydges Library, designed by Paul Rudolph—Niagara Falls’ main library, the city’s center of knowledge! The project commenced in Rudolph’s office in 1969, and this view of a portion of it’s lively roofscape was photographed in the mid-1970’s. Image courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith

CIVIC STANDING

Among the many types of buildings to which Paul Rudolph applied his creative & practical talents—houses (and housing), churches, schools, university buildings, campus planning, exhibit design, office buildings, medical facilities, and laboratories—there’s also the type about which architects feel proudest: their civic works.“ Part of that pride emerges from the City Beautiful movement—a philosophy and practice, starting in the late 19th Century, which contended that beautifully-designed cities (and well-designed public buildings within them) could bring forth a better society and promote civic virtue. That movement helped energize city (and state and federal) governments to focus more (and spend more) on their streets, buildings, public facilities (and the civil engineering that undergirded those structures.) It’s worth noting that a building type which played a role in such planning were public libraries.

RUDOLPH IN THE PUBLIC REALM

Rudolph made a strong showing in the civic domain, being given commissions for government and public-use buildings in Boston, New Haven, Goshen, NY, Syracuse, Rockford, IL, Buffalo, Siesta Key, FL, Manhattan, and Bridgeport—as well as for international locations, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia. These projects ranged from city halls, to courts, a stadium, and an embassy. [We’ve even seen a 1995 listing, in the tabulation of projects which Rudolph’s office produced for its own use, for a design of an “office for special counsel”.]

PROMINENT ON THE STREETSCAPE

Not all those projects were built (as with the career of most architects, that’s par for the course)—but enough were constructed that we can see that Rudolph’s skills “scaled” well for significant public undertakings. Among those, the main library he did for the city of Niagara Falls—the Earl W. Brydges Public Library— is remarkable. Here, he literally created a “landmark”: a prominent and sizable structure of unforgettable form—an icon within the cityscape.

The library in 2004, as seen down from within the city of Niagara Falls, NY. The tall, glazed, staggered portions of the roof (which bring light into the reading spaces within the building) are prominent parts of the building—and these strong shapes make the library a landmark within the city. Photograph by Kelvin Dickinson, © The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The library in 2004, as seen down from within the city of Niagara Falls, NY. The tall, glazed, staggered portions of the roof (which bring light into the reading spaces within the building) are prominent parts of the building—and these strong shapes make the library a landmark within the city. Photograph by Kelvin Dickinson, © The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

LUMINOUS INTERIORS

Equally memorable are the interiors, filled with light from the clerestory windows above (whose staggered emergence from the roof helps give the building its mountain-strength character). The 3-storey space within is exciting—yet serene enough for reading, research, and study.

“It’s so bright and open without being glaring.”

—Jennifer Potter, the library’s director

Rudolph’s section-perspective of the library, looking down its main axis. A series of tall clerestory windows, rising prominently from the roof, bring in natural light. The building rises in three stages, with each floor getting smaller than the one below—reflecting the library’s functional space needs. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Rudolph’s section-perspective of the library, looking down its main axis. A series of tall clerestory windows, rising prominently from the roof, bring in natural light. The building rises in three stages, with each floor getting smaller than the one below—reflecting the library’s functional space needs. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

“I think my favorite thing about the building is looking up in the main atrium, where the adult collection is. So stunning. It feels strangely modern despite its age.”

—Library Patron

The library’s atrium-interior, as photographed in 1972. This view allows one to see all three levels, as well as the ceiling openings to the clerestory windows (in the angled roof) which bring natural light into the space. Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives

The library’s atrium-interior, as photographed in 1972. This view allows one to see all three levels, as well as the ceiling openings to the clerestory windows (in the angled roof) which bring natural light into the space. Joseph W. Molitor architectural photographs. Located in Columbia University, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings & Archives

A LANDMARK THREATENED?

The building’s birth had, admittedly, construction problems—ones that caused its architect and builder seeming endless grief. This history is well-told in an article by Mark Byrnes, published by CityLab a few years ago (from which the above quotes.were excerpted.) Ongoing issues continue to concern its users—to the point where the building’s future as the city’s main library is now being threatened.

Is this a case similar to another amazing civic work by Rudolph: his now-disfigured Orange County Government Center? There, a greater recognition of the building’s architectural value and excellence might have—whatever the problems—brought forth the commitment and resources to fix them. We hope that such understanding and support will come forth for the library in Niagara Falls—that it “gets some love”.

INTO THE FUTURE?

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation will be following the fate of Niagara Falls’ Brydges Library (and working to preserve it.) We’ll be bringing you ongoing news of this in the coming months—and if you hear anything about the future of the building, please do let us know!

The entry side of Niagara Falls’Earl. W. Brydges Library, designed by Paul Rudolph. Image courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith

The entry side of Niagara Falls’Earl. W. Brydges Library, designed by Paul Rudolph. Image courtesy of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, photograph by G. E. Kidder Smith

Errol Barron: Creativity Embodied (Plus: a New Memoir of Paul Rudolph)

Of all the photos we’ve seen of the insides of Paul Rudolph’s various offices, this is one that intrigues us most. In this version of the drafting room, the lower level was used for “tube storage” of rolled-up architectural drawings, and drafting stations were positioned on platforms above. Errol Barron says that’s a photo of a staff member of Rudolph’s office, Max Lieberman, stepping across the gap—and describes that getting around the office as having its adventurous side.. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Of all the photos we’ve seen of the insides of Paul Rudolph’s various offices, this is one that intrigues us most. In this version of the drafting room, the lower level was used for “tube storage” of rolled-up architectural drawings, and drafting stations were positioned on platforms above. Errol Barron says that’s a photo of a staff member of Rudolph’s office, Max Lieberman, stepping across the gap—and describes that getting around the office as having its adventurous side.. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

DISCOVERING A RENAISSANCE MAN

 We sometimes refer former to staff members of Paul Rudolph’s office as “Rudolph veterans”—and we’re always glad to meet them and are curious to hear the stories they have to tell (and the assessments they’ve made, over time, of their former boss.) We’ve just discovered another such “veteran”:  Mr. C. Errol Barron. We came across his name while doing some Rudolph research, seeing him listed as one of Rudolph’s employees—so we decided to look him up.

In the case of Mr. Barron, “discovered” may be a strange way to put it, as he’s has been there all the time: living a professionally & artistically active life (in Louisiana, Greece, Italy, and other places), creating some beautiful architecture (and just-as-beautiful artwork), and also teaching (he’s a professor at Tulane) and writing.

Mr. C. Errol Barron—architect, artist, photographer, writer—and the author of a fascinating memoir-essay about Paul Rudolph. Image: photograph by Lasimpson504, via Wikipedia.

Mr. C. Errol Barron—architect, artist, photographer, writer—and the author of a fascinating memoir-essay about Paul Rudolph. Image: photograph by Lasimpson504, via Wikipedia.

DISCOVERING PAUL RUDOLPH

Mr. Barron is a prolific writer, with many articles, and several books to his credit. We asked  him if he’d ever written anything about Paul Rudolph and he sent us a paper: “PMR”   In it, he recounts applying for a job in Rudolph’s office—intending to stay only one year, but ending-up being there for seven—and the fascinating projects in which he participated. With this, he also shares his overall observations of Rudolph: both his architecture and as a person.

You can read his entire text about Paul Rudolph at the Articles & Writings section of our website.  But we thought you’d like a taste of it here, so below is his description of the layout of Rudolph’s office when it was on 58th Street in Manhattan, and of the first project he worked on:

Rudolph’s office on 58th street was on the top floor of a typical row house out of which he fashioned a labrynthian space of many levels and floating planes creating precarious work spaces, ledges for magazines and benches and the main conference table that doubled as a landing of the stair leading to Mr. Rudolph’s work space at the very top of the space. He created this space( and the conference room) by raising the center section of the roof some 15 or 20 feet to bring in light and create more work levels.

In the rear of the 4th floor was the drafting room of about 8 work stations perched on boxes that contained the tubes of drawings of completed projects. To gain access to this storage one would walk under the drawing boards above and we were obliged to step across this gap to get to our desks. Occasional falls occurred!

It was a lively unorthodox, slightly dangerous environment but a delight to work in. There was just enough head height under the slope of the original room to make the space usable.

My first assignment was to assist Constantine “Connie Wallace”, the job captain, in the construction documents for the Interama Pavilion for the so named fair in Florida, a North and Central American project meant to stimulate commerce. Many other architects, Louis Kahn included, were enlisted. The Rudolph project was a delightful concoction of elliptical pavilions sunk into a sloping concrete floor under a curving sun shade roof  - it was never built. I remember the enthusiasm for this project was so high that we worked to complete the drawings on Christmas Eve of 1967.

You can learn much more about Mr. Barron--his career, architectural work, books, and artwork—at   errolbarron.com — but we’d like to share with you some images of his buildings and artworks (more of both can be seen on his website):

A house in Peleponnesos, Greece, designed by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

A house in Peleponnesos, Greece, designed by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

A house in Athens, Greece, designed by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

A house in Athens, Greece, designed by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

Water Land: Babb’s Rock, a watercolor by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

Water Land: Babb’s Rock, a watercolor by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

Water Land: Tower Rig II, a watercolor by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

Water Land: Tower Rig II, a watercolor by C. Errol Barron. Image: courtesy of C. Errol Barron

METABOLISM and MIES: FURTHER Influences on PAUL Rudolph

Paul Rudolph’s sketch for the Plantation Road Triplex project in Hong Kong, color pencil on vellum, 1995—a project he was working on towards the end of his half-century career. This perspective sketch (which one observer characterized as “Metabolist”) includes vertical and diagonal structure, multiple levels, and supported as well as cantilevered elements—and shows one of the series of different approaches that Rudolph explored while developing his ideas for this project. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s sketch for the Plantation Road Triplex project in Hong Kong, color pencil on vellum, 1995—a project he was working on towards the end of his half-century career. This perspective sketch (which one observer characterized as “Metabolist”) includes vertical and diagonal structure, multiple levels, and supported as well as cantilevered elements—and shows one of the series of different approaches that Rudolph explored while developing his ideas for this project. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

INFLUENCES AND INVESTIGATIONS

 It is often said that Paul Rudolph’s two main influences were:

  • Wright—for the layered, rich, flowing and complex organization of his spaces

  • Le Corbusier—for his sculptural shaping of masses in light (as well as his use of concrete).

But a wider look reveals a great range of inputs into Rudolph’s life and thinking.

Japan is an example. One of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s exhibits, for Rudolph’s 2018 centennial, included a 1995 sketch for his Plantation Road project in Hong Kong (shown above).

A visitor to the exhibition looked at it and exclaimed “Metabolism!”—the name of a post-war Japanese architectural movement (primarily of the 1960’s and 70’s) which “fused ideas about architectural megastructures architectural with those of organic biological growth.” Rudolph was well aware of Metabolism, having been in Japan in 1960 to attend an architectural conference where—significantly—the movement was initiated. Rudolph also owned a large and richly illustrated book on Metabolist architecture—the significant monograph, we’re told (which is currently in the library of the Modulightor Building). So there’s a discernible link from that Japanese architectural movement -to- his 1995 design sketch. Like many great architects, Rudolph was always looking at and digesting what was happening in the world of design.

Another project of Rudolph’s, the Daiei Headquarters Building in Nagoya, Japan (from the early 1970’s), also shows his awareness of that Japanese Metabolist movement.

The    Daiei Headquarters Building in Nagoya   , Japan, designed by Paul Rudolph, 1971. The articulated elements at the roof (shown here), and also the expressive volumes and details at the building’s ground level and in its lobby, could be described as Metabolist. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The Daiei Headquarters Building in Nagoya, Japan, designed by Paul Rudolph, 1971. The articulated elements at the roof (shown here), and also the expressive volumes and details at the building’s ground level and in its lobby, could be described as Metabolist. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

RUDOLPH AND THE INTERNATIONAL STYLE—aND MIES

What about other influences on Rudolph?

After the initial Florida phase of career, the preponderance of Rudolph’s work—though clearly Modern—is not associated with the stricter (Gropius-ian) aspects of the International Style. But Rudolph was engaged with that approach—at least in his thinking—and we continue to be intrigued by this quote from him: 

“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 eave line 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.” [Quoted from: “Paul Rudolph—Excerpts from a Conversation” which appeared in Perspecta 22, 1986]

So, within Rudolph’s deepest meditations on architecture, he declares an ongoing interest in the relationship (or dis-junction) between Wright’s approach and the International Style.

In a recent post, we spoke of Rudolph’s relationship to his teacher at Yale, Walter Gropius. Gropius was the living symbol of the Bauhaus and 20th Century Modern architecture—and hence the International Style. But for the actual, finest embodiment the International Style’s principles in built work, one would have to look to Mies. The first phase of Rudolph’s career—his early work in Florida—comprised numerous house designs which combined austere discipline with spatial (and material) cleverness. They are much closer to Mies van der Rohe’s oeuvre (especially Mies’ many courtyard house projects) than to any of Gropius works.

Mies van der Rohe’s project for 3 Courtyard Houses, circa 1931. Mies repeatedly investigated the theme of the courtyard house. Usually, Mies’ designs were for a single house on a site enclosed on all sides by walls (with one-or-more courtyards, included as part of the composition, and opening to light and air). This design is at another level of complexity: Mies is integrating three residences into one overall composition.

Mies van der Rohe’s project for 3 Courtyard Houses, circa 1931. Mies repeatedly investigated the theme of the courtyard house. Usually, Mies’ designs were for a single house on a site enclosed on all sides by walls (with one-or-more courtyards, included as part of the composition, and opening to light and air). This design is at another level of complexity: Mies is integrating three residences into one overall composition.

Paul Rudolph’s project for    the Revere Development in Florida   , 1948. While significantly larger than Mies van der Rohe’s above project (and comprising twice as many houses), this design of Rudolph’s uses a similar compositional approach, design strategies, architectural elements, and overall minimalist aesthetic—and shows a strong relationship with Mies’ oeuvre and aesthetic. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Paul Rudolph’s project for the Revere Development in Florida, 1948. While significantly larger than Mies van der Rohe’s above project (and comprising twice as many houses), this design of Rudolph’s uses a similar compositional approach, design strategies, architectural elements, and overall minimalist aesthetic—and shows a strong relationship with Mies’ oeuvre and aesthetic. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

MIES, RUDOLPH, AND SPACE

 Paul Rudolph spoke movingly of the importance of Mies with Peter Blake, in a conversation which took place about a year before Rudolph’s 1997 passing. Commenting on Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion, he said:

"To me, the Barcelona Pavilion is Mies’ greatest building. It is one of the most human buildings I can think of—a rarity in the twentieth century. It is really fascinating to me to see the tentative nature of the Barcelona Pavilion. I am glad that Mies really wasn’t able to make up his mind about a lot of things—alignments in the marble panels, or the mullions, or the joints in the paving. Nothing quite lines up, all for very good reasons. It really humanizes the building.”

 Rudolph did a set of analytical drawings of the building, and began to explain:

“I made a few sketches that are meant to illustrate the impact of the actual building [as rebuilt in 1992 on the same site as the original 1929 Pavilion], which is very different from drawings, photos, etc. The Barcelona Pavilion is religious in its nature and is primarily a spatial experience. We have no accepted way of indicating space, and therefore the sketches made are very inadequate. One is drawn by the sequence of space through it. Multiple reflections of the twentieth century modify the architecture of light and shadow in a manner that no other building can equal. Twentieth-century concepts have affected all the past. Reflections are organized so that shadows re lot and become spatial ornamentation for the whole. These shadows and reflections are most intense at crucial junctures, such as the principal entrances, or turning points in circulation. For instance, a forest is created via reflections and refractions in the marble and glass surrounding you. This multiplicity of reflections unites the exterior and interior but also helps to explain the mystery of the whole. I think it is simply unprecedented in architecture and the greatest of all Mies’ buildings.”

He then goes through the drawings, using each to help reveal a different aspect of the building.  Near the end of their chat, Rudolph says:

One of the series of drawings made by Paul Rudolph, analyzing Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion. The full set of drawings (and a discussion of the Barcelona Pavilion) are in    Paul Rudolph: The Late Work   . Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

One of the series of drawings made by Paul Rudolph, analyzing Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion. The full set of drawings (and a discussion of the Barcelona Pavilion) are in Paul Rudolph: The Late Work. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

“Well, I am influenced by everything I see, hear, feel, smell, touch, and so on. The Barcelona Pavilion affected me emotionally. It is one of the great works of art of all time. I could not understand at first why it affected me as it did. I really never liked the outside of it. But the inside of the Pavilion transports you to another world, a more spiritual world.”

Another of Rudolph’s drawings, analyzing the Barcelona Pavilion. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Another of Rudolph’s drawings, analyzing the Barcelona Pavilion. Image © The Estate of Paul Rudolph, The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

The entire, fascinating conversation is in Roberto de Alba’s book, Paul Rudolph: The Late Work, and it includes the full set of Rudolph’s seven drawings the Barcelona Pavilion.

Geometry of Light installation, at the Barcelona Pavilion. View within the main body of the building. Photograph by    Kate Joyce

Geometry of Light installation, at the Barcelona Pavilion. View within the main body of the building. Photograph by Kate Joyce

ILLUMINATING MIES

A recent site-specific project, using laser light and sound—an “art intervention”—took place at the Barcelona Pavilion: “Geometry of Light” 

The sponsor/creators described it:

This intervention of projected light and sound enlivens and alters our perception of the essential elements of the pavilion. By emphasizing the open floor plan and material selections, Geometry of Light heightens the illusion of physical and material boundaries. Focused on the gridded plan of the pavilion, a projected grid of light animates the travertine floor that extends beyond the steel-framed glass walls to accentuate the flowing space as it permeates through the interior and exterior. The animated projections are choreographed to trace, highlight, and alter the composition of the pavilion.

In concert with the projected light and patterns, a custom-designed sound piece by Oriol Tarragó is integral to this experience. Developed in direct response to the pavilion, this auditory component uses the pitch of the space to create a tonal reading. A spatial installation of this soundtrack creates a comprehensive, immersive experience. Together, these elements coalesce—both unifying and disjointing the physical and perceptual space—in a new, altered perception and interpretation of the Barcelona Pavilion.

The creative collaborators were:

… Chicago-based design studio Luftwerk, in a collaboration with MAS Studio's founding director and MAS Context's editor-in-chief Iker Gill, and Spanish sound editor Oriol Tarragó

The installation ended in February 2019—but the same team will be applying their visual-sonic magic at Mies’ Farnsworth House, in October 2019.

Geometry of Light    installation, at the Barcelona Pavilion. View across the elevated plinth, towards the main body of the building. Photograph by    Kate Joyce

Geometry of Light installation, at the Barcelona Pavilion. View across the elevated plinth, towards the main body of the building. Photograph by Kate Joyce

Given Paul Rudolph’s concern (expressed several times over the years) for “a way of indicating space”, our bet is that he’d be interested and pleased by these spatial-artistic explorations of Mies’ work—and emphatically at the Barcelona Pavilion, a work for which he held the profoundest esteem.