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
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:
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.