Harold Bubil, Real Estate Editor Emeritus for the Herald-Tribune, writes in the newspaper that Paul Rudolph’s Healy guest house, known commonly as the Cocoon House, is one of his favorite buildings in Florida.
The reason for the name comes from the use of a technology - new at the time - to waterproof the roof. Writes Bubil:
During World War II, both Twitchell, who commanded an air base in South Carolina, and Rudolph, who was stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, learned about new technologies materials that could be applied to residential construction. Rudolph took note of the sprayed-on vinyl used to mothball ships, called “cocoon.”
While many see the house as a landmark of the Sarasota School of Architecture for its simple structure, use of glass and elevation above the surrounding landscape - Rudolph saw it as a failure. Writes Bubil,
It was “OK on the outside, but the interior space was not successful,” Rudolph, who died in 1997, once told architect Peter Blake in an interview. “The apparent instability of the sagging ceiling and the thrusting of space upward to the perimeter, inviting you to leave — this violated the essential nature of an intimate, domestic space. The Healy Cottage taught me that the physiological nature of the space in every building was really more important than the form of the structure.”
The psychological effect of space would continue to occupy the rest of Rudolph’s career - making this important building one that Rudolph fans and followers of modern architecture can share with similar appreciation.