23 Beekman

Rudolph's 'Personal Laboratory' at 23 Beekman place to be up for sale

23 Beekman Place at the time Rudolph lived there. Photo: Ed Chappell

23 Beekman Place at the time Rudolph lived there. Photo: Ed Chappell

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation has learned that Paul Rudolph’s legendary townhouse at 23 Beekman Place will be for sale in the next weeks. The listing will include the entire 11,000 s.f. (1,022 m2) building - the iconic 4,100 s.f. (381 m2) quadriplex penthouse and Rudolph-designed lower rental units - for $18.5 million. The exclusive brokers, Jonathan Hettinger and Lena Datwani of Sotheby’s International Realty, reached out to the foundation to discuss the property’s architectural significance in preparation for the sale. They are hoping to identify a buyer who will appreciate Rudolph’s legacy.

Rudolph’s ‘Personal Laboratory’

Rudolph designed 23 Beekman place as a spatially rich and very personal vision of the possibilities of architecture. It was both intimate and Piranesi-like, soaring and layered: an orchestration of interlocking spaces. It was Rudolph’s design laboratory, where he would constantly change, try out, and experiment with new variations - a composition of rich textures and reflective materials that caught the light in magical ways. No less than 17 levels could be counted which, pinwheel-like, floated harmoniously and lead from one luminous experience to the next.

Rudolph’s rendering of 23 Beekman Place in section. Image: Library of Congress

Rudolph’s rendering of 23 Beekman Place in section. Image: Library of Congress

23 Beekman Place was constantly moving: light plays, water falls, and canals on the terrace were built. There was a Plexiglas Jacuzzi on the top level through which you could see down over 30 feet, to dazzling spaces below—a 20th century version of Sir John Soane’s House Museum in London.

Drawings and a model of the property were included in the recent Paul Rudolph centennial exhibition titled ‘Paul Rudolph: The Personal Laboratory’ which was on display in the Modulightor building and featured in an article in the New York Times.

Featured in Film and Magazines

The home’s iconic design led it to it being center stage for parties hosted by Rudolph at which one could rub elbows with the likes of Ray Eames, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jessica Lange, Philip Johnson and Frank Gehry.

Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

The home was also featured in magazine fashion shoots, movies and television shows, including a memorable fire drill scene from the 2001 movie The Royal Tenenbaums.

Renovations

After Rudolph passed away in 1997, the apartment was sold and the new owners made renovations. These included removing the infamous lucite bathub that hung above the kitchen and other code related modifications.

Landmark Designation

In 2010, the building was designated a New York City landmark by the Landmark Preservation Commission. Matt Postal, an architectural historian and member of the Commission, made the initial presentation to the board:

Although the multi-level interiors fashioned by Rudolph have been modified by subsequent owners, the exterior is virtually unchanged. 23 Beekman Place is a significant and highly personal example of this important modern architect’s late work. Visible from Beekman Place and various points east, it is one of only four buildings designed by Rudolph in New York City, and arguably, his most significant.

Several Rudolph properties have been on the market recently, just as the famed architect would have turned 100 years. These include the Treistman Residence in Englewood, New Jersey and the Milam Residence in Jacksonville, Florida. The Halston (Hirsch) Residence was sold on January 15th for $18 million, and the Walker Guest House in Sanibel, Florida was put on the market last month.

Please spread the word about the upcoming sale and if you want to know more information, please reach out to us at office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

Celebrating Paul Rudolph on National Bath Day

October 7th is known officially as 'National Bathtub Day' to commemorate the introduction of the bathtub in England in 1828.

Paul Rudolph's contribution to the history of the bathtub may be best remembered as the Lucite tub that looked down into the kitchen at his residence at 23 Beekman Place.

What's not as well known is Rudolph's design for two bathrooms that appear in the book 'Sensuous Spaces' by Sivon Reznikoff.

According to Reznikoff::

In the mid-1970’s Paul Rudolph, the world renown architect, was commissioned to design a futurist bath. Recognizing the difference in bathing rituals performed by men and women, combined with the belief that we all need some time alone, he set out to design two baths that are now considered classics of sensuality.

Womens Bathroom.jpg

The bath designed for the female involved a very complex use of space. A gentle downward sloping floor simulates a natural outdoor setting complete with a running stream. Water is continually recycled through aluminum pipes embedded into an earth-colored carpet. The natural landscape concept is enhanced by the addition of smooth rocks and soft sponges strategically positioned to allow contact with bare feet. The low partition in the center of the room shields the bidet. A skylight centered within a copper dome allows a restful golden glow to wash the entire space. The large luxuriant tub and a screen for viewing films placed nearby produce an irresistible setting for relaxation. A contoured reclining lounge attached to the wall provides a place to read or enjoy the sun lamps installed above. Circular storage containers are placed along one wall and on another end a makeup counter was surrounded with small round mirrored disks that simulate a sparkling water surface.

Photo: Tom Yee

Photo: Tom Yee

Photo: Tom Yee

Photo: Tom Yee

For the man’s bathroom design, Reznikoff continues:

Mens Bathroom.jpg

Although the bath designed for the male was organic in form, it did not attempt to simulate the romantic natural setting provided for the female. The large skylight highlights the circular trapeze exercise bars placed directly under the dome. Copper sheeting is used both in the dome and throughout the space. A raised platform that runs along one wall contains the tub and also houses recessed storage.

Lights concealed in the bottom of a circular pit built into the center of the floor are reflected in the soft copper color of the walls and ceilings. Intended to simulate the warmth of glowing coals in an open campfire, it provides an inviting place to relax. When the pit was not in use it was covered with an exercise pad.

Photo: Tom Yee

Photo: Tom Yee

Photo: Tom Yee

Photo: Tom Yee