PRHF Archive

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

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

MAGNIFICENT GIFT OF RUDOLPH DRAWINGS

R. D. Chin donates “a treasure" of Paul Rudolph original drawings, prints, and graphics to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Some of the Paul Rudolph drawings and documents donated by R.D. Chin to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. At the top-left is a rendering of the base of the Wisma Dharmala Tower in Jakarta; at the top-center are two sketches for the Yale Art & Architecture Building; at the top-right is a poster for an exhibit of Rudolph drawings that took place at the Max Protetch Gallery; at the bottom right and center are drawings for the Edersheim guest facilities, and at the bottom-left is a perspective rendering of an interior in the LIcht Residence. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Some of the Paul Rudolph drawings and documents donated by R.D. Chin to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. At the top-left is a rendering of the base of the Wisma Dharmala Tower in Jakarta; at the top-center are two sketches for the Yale Art & Architecture Building; at the top-right is a poster for an exhibit of Rudolph drawings that took place at the Max Protetch Gallery; at the bottom right and center are drawings for the Edersheim guest facilities, and at the bottom-left is a perspective rendering of an interior in the LIcht Residence. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

R. D. Chin—architect, interior designer, former key staff member of Paul Rudolph’s architectural office, and Feng Shui master (and author of a significant book on the subject)—gave a thrilling presentation at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s first SpaceMaker Salon Series event.

R.D. Chin, standing at center—architect and Feng Shui master—and a former key member of Paul Rudolph’s staff. In this shot, taken during his presentation at July’s S;pacemaker Salon, he is explaining the various Rudolph drawings and documents which he has generously donated to the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The event took place within the Modulightor Building, in the 5th & 6th floor duplex gallery space. Copies of R. D.’s book,,   Feng Shui Revealed: an Aesthetic, Practical Approach to the Ancient Art of Space Alignment ,  can be seen on display at the lower-right corner Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

R.D. Chin, standing at center—architect and Feng Shui master—and a former key member of Paul Rudolph’s staff. In this shot, taken during his presentation at July’s S;pacemaker Salon, he is explaining the various Rudolph drawings and documents which he has generously donated to the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. The event took place within the Modulightor Building, in the 5th & 6th floor duplex gallery space. Copies of R. D.’s book,, Feng Shui Revealed: an Aesthetic, Practical Approach to the Ancient Art of Space Alignment, can be seen on display at the lower-right corner Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

During his talk, on Friday, July 19th, 2019, R. D. spoke of how he began to work at the Paul Rudolph office, and his many fascinating experiences there (working very closely with Rudolph). He revealed how he transitioned to his current path, becoming a highly-regarded Feng Shui consultant, and showed examples of his working method—on architectural projects ranging from residences to a bank.

RD Chin, at left, the featured speaker at July’s SpaceMaker Salon. Drawings from his professional portfolio are in the foreground, and one can see some of the diagrammatic analysis drawings which he uses in his Feng Shui    consulting work   . RD said that one of the things he leaned from Paul Rudolph was the use of color when working out a design problem and in evolving architectural solutions. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

RD Chin, at left, the featured speaker at July’s SpaceMaker Salon. Drawings from his professional portfolio are in the foreground, and one can see some of the diagrammatic analysis drawings which he uses in his Feng Shui consulting work. RD said that one of the things he leaned from Paul Rudolph was the use of color when working out a design problem and in evolving architectural solutions. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

During the presentation he rolled out drawings from the Rudolph office—both of projects he worked on, and other Rudolphian graphics—explaining the use and and meaning of each. He then surprised the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation by saying that he was donating them to our archives.

These drawings and documents are a significant addition to the body of sketches, renderings, construction drawings, and graphics that Rudolph and his staff generated across his half-century career—and the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation will be cataloging them and making them available for scholarly study. For now, we thought you’d like to see some of the amazing treasure which R.D. Chin has donated to us, and a selection is below.

One of the donations was a high-quality print of Rudolph’s detailed perspective rendering for the base and lower floors of the    Wisma Dharmala Tower    in Jakarta. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

One of the donations was a high-quality print of Rudolph’s detailed perspective rendering for the base and lower floors of the Wisma Dharmala Tower in Jakarta. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

A floor plan for changing rooms, rest room, and the lounging area in a proposed outbuilding for the Edersheim Residence in Larchmont, NY. The diazo print is dated 1988. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

A floor plan for changing rooms, rest room, and the lounging area in a proposed outbuilding for the Edersheim Residence in Larchmont, NY. The diazo print is dated 1988. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Rudolph’s perspective rendering of the “living room and glass loggia” of the    Licht Residence    in Hewlett Harbor, NY. A project of the mid-1980’s, this drawing was incorporated into the cover sheet of the construction drawings—of which a full set of diazo prints was donated by Mr. Chin. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Rudolph’s perspective rendering of the “living room and glass loggia” of the Licht Residence in Hewlett Harbor, NY. A project of the mid-1980’s, this drawing was incorporated into the cover sheet of the construction drawings—of which a full set of diazo prints was donated by Mr. Chin. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

The donation included a print of a rendering of the    Concourse in Singapore   , a project of the late 1970’s/early 80’s. The print is the highest-resolution version we’d ever seen of that perspective drawing, and this is a detail from it. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

The donation included a print of a rendering of the Concourse in Singapore, a project of the late 1970’s/early 80’s. The print is the highest-resolution version we’d ever seen of that perspective drawing, and this is a detail from it. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

A preliminary sketch, pencil on tracing paper, for an exterior elevation of Paul Rudolph’s most famous work: the    Yale Art & Architecture Building    (now known as Rudolph Hall). Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

A preliminary sketch, pencil on tracing paper, for an exterior elevation of Paul Rudolph’s most famous work: the Yale Art & Architecture Building (now known as Rudolph Hall). Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

On the same sheet as the above elevation drawing is this small diagram, showing the “pinwheel” parti that is the basis of the Yale building’s floor plans. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

On the same sheet as the above elevation drawing is this small diagram, showing the “pinwheel” parti that is the basis of the Yale building’s floor plans. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Two of Paul Rudolph’s “tornado people” (excerpted from the elevation sketch, above)—the type of    scale figures    which Rudolph used for much of his career, and a “signature” of his drawings. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Two of Paul Rudolph’s “tornado people” (excerpted from the elevation sketch, above)—the type of scale figures which Rudolph used for much of his career, and a “signature” of his drawings. Photo of drawing by Kelvin Dickinson, for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

We give our profound thanks to R.D. Chin for this magnificent donation—a gift, not just to the foundation, but to the larger world of all those who admire Paul Rudolph, and seek to lean from his legacy.

RUDOLPH’S FIRST DESIGN?

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

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

BEFORE YALE AND BEFORE HARVARD: ALABAMA!

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Harvard student work archives.

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

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

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

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

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

HIS FIRST DESIGN?

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

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

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

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

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

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

SENIORS APPROVE MAIN GATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUDOLPH DID BUILD AT AUBURN

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

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

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

Regrettably, the building was demolished in 2016.

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

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

Photograph: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.



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

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

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

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

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

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

IT’S ALL OVER THE INTERNET…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWD: To the house.

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

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

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

WWD: How old were you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A GREAT HOUSE AND GREAT DESIGNERS

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

About the house, we wrote: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Floor Plan

Mezzanine Floor Plan

Second Floor Plan

Perspective Section Rendering

Same section from the construction drawing set

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

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

Previously unseen Rudolph project donated to the Foundation's archives

Rudolph’s Medical Arts Building project in Singapore. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Rudolph’s Medical Arts Building project in Singapore. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Paul Rudolph’s 1990 proposal for a Medical Arts Building in Singapore was donated to the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation by Jeremy Moser, a former Rudolph employee. He also donated other project materials which will be covered in future posts.

The site today. Image: Google Maps

Rudolph’s proposed site plan. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

The project was never built. Along with a site plan and elevation, copies of the floor plans showing Rudolph’s characteristic alternating pinwheel floorplans:

The plans are dated February 16th, 1990 and list Rudolph’s office as 246 East 58th Street. Rudolph’s offices were on the second floor of the building, where the offices of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation are located today.

Photos of Rudolph's residence added to the archives of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

Photo of Rudolph’s residence taken in the early 90’s. Photo: Robert Schwartz; Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Photo of Rudolph’s residence taken in the early 90’s. Photo: Robert Schwartz; Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation was visited by Robert Schwartz, an architect who came to see the recent exhibit, ‘Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory’ at the Foundation’s headquarters in the Modulightor building which featured Mr. Rudolph’s residence on 31 High Street. Afterwards, he spoke to us and showed photos of the space when he lived there from 1990-1993.

He donated copies of the photos to the Foundation’s growing archives of Paul Rudolph’s architectural works. These will be used to update the model which was based on Mr. Rudolph’s drawings and black and white historical photos.

Rudolph’s drawing of the first floor. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Rudolph’s drawing of the first floor. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Rudolph’s drawing of the second floor. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Rudolph’s drawing of the second floor. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

According to Mr. Schwartz, the floor was white marble (we had assumed brick!) in a herringbone pattern. The steps were the same white marble inset into a metal frame, hung off the wall. The brown cushion shown in the photos was original from Rudolph’s design.

Mr. Schwartz noted a few errors in the model such as a small water feature located outside in the yard. He also said the house had a number of tenants after Mr. Rudolph moved out before he lived in the space - including a rumored funeral parlor. He also pointed out details like doors and areas of the building that were not included in Rudolph’s drawings of the addition.

Sadly, the building was eventually turned into a residence for a local fraternity who made major changes including enclosing Rudolph’s floating staircase.

Thanks to Mr. Schwartz’s contribution to the Foundation’s archives we have another chapter to add to the history of this iconic project. For more photos, please see the links below.