Amarillo

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.

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.