Yale

Paul Rudolph & Education

The  Yale Art & Architecture Building —now rededicated as  Rudolph Hall —which Paul Rudolph designed (and was constructed and completed) during the time he was chair of the Yale’s school of architecture. Photo: Sage Ross, Wikipedia

The Yale Art & Architecture Building—now rededicated as Rudolph Hall—which Paul Rudolph designed (and was constructed and completed) during the time he was chair of the Yale’s school of architecture. Photo: Sage Ross, Wikipedia

Paul Rudolph was involved in so many tributaries of the world of design—architecture, urbanism, interiors, furniture, and lighting. But also in design education in its many forms: teaching, writing, lecturing, mentoring, and—most famously—as chair of Yale’s architecture school from 1958 to 1965.

In his Yale Alumni Day speech, given as he was about to assume the chairmanship, he concluded with these ever-thrilling, adventurous, and toughly challenging words:

 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.

Under his leadership, he helped the school become one of the country’s most dynamic places to get an architectural education—and not the least of those reasons is the great diversity and quality of teachers and guest jurors which Rudolph invited to the school.

These were certainly not all people who agreed with Rudolph. An example would be Serge Chermayeff, who was invited by Rudolph to come to Yale—and became a rather controversial figure within the school.

Serge Chermayeff (1900-1996), architect, designer, and educator. Photo: Alchetron

Serge Chermayeff (1900-1996), architect, designer, and educator. Photo: Alchetron

Serge Chermayeff’s studio-vacation house in Cape Cod. Photo: The Modern House

In an oral history interview about his years of educational work (in Chicago and elsewhere), Chermayeff recalled:

I left in 1962 to go to Rudolph in Yale and he very typically said, “I’d love to have somebody on the jury with whom I can argue in front of the students.” That suited me very well because I’m very argumentative. I had a lovely time because he was a very nice man, I liked him very much and we got on very, very well.

The 7 years that Rudolph was chair at Yale - a good long run, for any chair or dean - continue to fascinate.

Photo: Google

Photo: Google

Numerous former students of Rudolph affirm that it was a super-intense (and maybe the) key educational experience of their lives, as Norman Foster did in his heart-felt essay on Rudolph. [It is one of several chapters devoted to Paul Rudolph in Architects on Architects, edited by Susan Gray.]

In the compulsively readable, pulls-no-punches memoir by the ever-creative Stanley Tigerman, Designing Bridges To Burn—truly a must-read!—he also shares scenes and feelings from his years as a student at Yale (and, simultaneously, a part-time employee of Rudolph.)

Stanley Tigerman

Stanley Tigerman

Tigerman’s book ‘Designing Bridges to Burn’

Tigerman’s book ‘Designing Bridges to Burn’

Here’s a brief quote from it:

“For Paul Rudolph, architecture and life were inextricably intertwined. He lived, breathed, slept, lectured, taught, and of course practiced architecture. I was thoroughly bedazzled by the depth of his commitment to unpacking the never-endling layers of space and mas that architecture represented for him. He was, other than simply being a superb teacher, the consummate architect, if by that one means a person who, in a Zen-like sense “became” his work. In all these years of practicing the discipline, if there was anyone I met who “walked the walk” it was Paul Marvin Rudolph.”

Robert A. M. Stern, former Dean of Yale’s school of architecture. He is shown standing on a portion of Rudolph’s  Yale Art & Architecture  building. Yale’s  Harkness Tower  is in the background. Photo: Peter Aaron/OTTO

Robert A. M. Stern, former Dean of Yale’s school of architecture. He is shown standing on a portion of Rudolph’s Yale Art & Architecture building. Yale’s Harkness Tower is in the background. Photo: Peter Aaron/OTTO

Robert A. M. Stern was an architecture student at Yale during the Rudolph years - in fact, Stern’s thesis was presented at the last review which Rudolph attended before leaving the chairmanship in 1965. Paprika (the student publication of Yale’s architecture school) conducted a fascinating, wise, and hilarious interview with Stern, just before he stepped-down from the deanship at Yale. Paul Rudolph comes up quite alot - and we really recommend a full reading of this extraordinarily frank and fun session.

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For a comprehensive overview - a deep and utterly interesting dive - into a century of the history of Yale’s School of Architecture, we recommend looking at this fascinating book - a copy of which we’ve just acquired for the library of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation:

Pedagogy and Place: 100 Years of Architecture Education at Yale
By Robert A. M. Stern and Jimmy Stamp
Published by the Yale University Press
https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300211924/pedagogy-and-place

The book—spanning from 1916 -to- the school’s centennial in 2016—covers its early traditional and Beaus-Arts beginnings, it’s turn towards Modernism, the Rudolph era, and the interesting transformations since then. But, while deeply & fully-researched and aplenty with citations, this is not dry academic writing—instead: it is a richly told story, with strong personalities that are vividly portrayed.

The section dealing with the years when Rudolph was chair is titled “A Time of Heroics 1958-1965”—and here are a few shots of illustrated page spreads from that chapter:

AN INVITATION:

Rudolph-as-Educator is an enticing potential focus for further research, and we would like to return to it in the future. If any readers would like to share memoires (or materials) relating to this, we’d certainly welcome them - and that would fuel additional explorations of this important subject.

If there’s anything you’d like to share, please feel welcome to contact us at office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

10 Years Later: The Yale School of Architecture & what might have been

Model of Richard Meier’s proposed addition to the Yale School of Architecture.  Renderings: Richard Meier & Partners Architects, Model Photography: Jock Pottle

Model of Richard Meier’s proposed addition to the Yale School of Architecture.
Renderings: Richard Meier & Partners Architects, Model Photography: Jock Pottle

As a result of a 1996 planning study, Yale University decided to undertake the exterior and interior renovation of Paul Rudolph’s iconic Yale School of Architecture building along with a seven-story addition.

A number of proposals were generated from well-known architects such as Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Richard Meier, and Beyer Blinder Belle. Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects were finally awarded the $126 million project which included renovation of Rudolph’s original 116,000 sf building along with a 87,000 sf addition to be known as the Jeffrey H. Loria Center for the History of Art. The project was completed in 2008 and won many awards including the AIA NY State - Award of Excellence for Historic Preservation in 2009.

Rudolph meets Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Rudolph meets Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects
Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

To see what might have been, Richard Meier & Partners Architects has a page on their website that describes their original 2001 - 2004 proposal:


The proposed new building for the Department of the History of Art and for an expanded Arts Library is located adjacent to the Art and Architecture Building by Paul Rudolph of 1963. The two will be closely interconnected, and this integration reflects the time-honored interaction between the arts and architecture. Encompassing a total gross area of some 175,000 square feet, the new building rises seven floors above the street and has two levels below grade, following the sectional precedent of the Rudolph building.

A top-lit atrium, which accommodates the main reading room of the expanded Arts Library, connects the two buildings. It occupies a void adjacent to the existing structure, which Rudolph had envisioned as a courtyard in the potential expansion of his building. While the principal entrance is located in the new building, the original entry into the Rudolph building will be maintained with direct access into the original northeastern stair/elevator tower or indirect access up the adjacent grand staircase.

The ground floor is mainly given over to the reference library, but it also provides an auxiliary semi-public element, a small exhibition space and a café close to the main entrance. There are two lecture halls in the lowest level of the new building, which, together with Hastings Hall in the basement of the Rudolph building, constitute the new lecture complex.

The new building juxtaposes a small number of enclosed volumes – faculty offices and seminar rooms – with expansive spaces mostly clad in either translucent or transparent glass. In contrast to the “corduroy” concrete of the Rudolph building, the curtain walls and glass roofs of the new building act as membranes filtering natural light into the structure and creating a variety of light conditions according to the time of day and the season.

To see more of the proposal by Richard Meier & Partners Architects, click on one of the images below: