Preservation

PAUL RUDOLPH’S MILAM RESIDENCE: HISTORY & VIEWS OF AN ICON

An “elevation view” (a straight-on shot) of the Milam Residence in Ponte Verda Beach, FL. This photo, of the beach-facing side, was taken in 1962, not long after the building was completed. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor.  Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

An “elevation view” (a straight-on shot) of the Milam Residence in Ponte Verda Beach, FL. This photo, of the beach-facing side, was taken in 1962, not long after the building was completed. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor.

Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

A FASCINATING HOUSE

Our recent article about the Milam Residence went viral—and so we thought it would be good to share some more information about this landmark of 20th century design. Here, we’ll cover two other interesting aspects of the building: the story of its construction, and how the design was received by the architectural and lifestyle press.

BUILDING AN ICON

We asked the Robert C. Champion, the son of the original owner, to tell us about the origin of the project, including the Milam’s relationship with Rudolph. He answered several of our questions:

Q: Do you know anything about the relationship between your parents and Rudolph, and how they found-out about him?

A: My stepfather, Arthur Milam, knew of Rudolph’s work in Sarasota. My stepfather was a graduate of Yale Class 1950. Rudolph became Chair of Yale Architecture in 1958, so they had a common bond. Also my stepfather was a big collector of modern art, so he was interested in an architect and specialized in modern art.

Q: Do you know what “program” they presented to Rudolph (what set of requirements he was asked to fulfill?)

A: My stepfather gave Rudolph free rein to design the house. He did tell him how much square footage and how many bedrooms, but other than that he left the whole creation to Rudolph.

Q: Do you know how the architect-client relationship went with them all? [We’re guessing they got along pretty well, as Rudolph was invited back to do the additions/alterations.]

A: They got along very well as far as I know. My stepfather left the creating to Rudolph.

Q: Did you hear anything about the construction period—for example: stories about things that needed adjusting because of site conditions?

A: Rudolph wanted to build the house in poured concrete and rebar. When they calculated the cost it was very cost prohibitive so they changed it to concrete block with rebar and all concrete poured cells.

Q: Was this a year-round residence—or—primarily a vacation home?

A: It was a year-round residence.

Q: Any reflections of your own, about growing-up in it?

A: It was by far the largest home in north Florida when it was built. Most of the homes on the ocean were second homes and were cottages made out of cedar. So this house really stood out. It was known as the crazy house of rectangles and was labeled so on the fisherman’s map. We had very few neighbors back then. We had one neighbor a half mile to the north and another a half mile to the south.

Mr. Champion’s notes about the Milam’s initial knowledge of Rudolph meshes well with the information in a fascinating document: the National Register of Historic Places’ Registration Form for this building—which is also linked-to on the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s Project Page for this house. The National Register’s document gives a complete history of the site and context---both physical, historical, and cultural—and a detailed description of the building, inside-and-out. It also includes an evaluation of the building’s significance and how it fits into Rudolph’s overall oeuvre, as well as drawings, maps, and photographs.

The building went through several phases:

  • Original state: As designed by Paul Rudolph, for Arthur and Teresa Milam—with the house being occupied at the beginning of the 1960’s.

  • Alterations by Rudolph: Rudolph was brought back more-than-once, by the Milams, to make alterations and/or additions. Their extent is well described in the National Register’s report:

    “After the house was complete, the Milams contacted Paul Rudolph for his design services once again. In the early 1970s, Milam had Rudolph add two ancillary structures on either side of the main house—one for a three car garage and one for a guest house/studio. Rudolph used the same materials and design vocabulary for the new wings. The two original garages, which flanked the house to the north and to the south, have been converted into a dining room (on the north side), and an office (on the south side). The addition, which runs perpendicular to the house on the south side is a guest house/office. The pool is on the west side of a courtyard, with the house on the east facing the ocean. So it fits together around the center courtyard. In 1973, Paul Rudolph designed a smaller addition southwest of the main house that serves as another family room with a downstairs bath and upstairs sleeping loft. A breezeway connects it to the main house. The original south garage was converted into an office, with a folding partition that hides away storage. This alteration connects to the breezeway and does not significantly alter the building’s facade. This alteration is complementary to Rudolph’s design and to his 1973 addition. During the Rudolph addition, phase, Teresa Milam redesigned the original kitchen. These additions and alterations are sympathetic to the overall vision of Paul Rudolph, and are considered to be contributing elements.”

  • Post-Rudolph: After Rudolph’s passing, KBJ Architects (a prominent Florida architectural firm, based in Jacksonville) was asked to add a weight room and an additional garage.

AN INFLUENTIAL DESIGN

Robert Adams Ivy, Jr., the editor of Architectural Record, told Ernst Wagner (founder of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation) that when the Milam Residence was published, it was a powerful and compelling design—and that it influenced a whole generation of architects.

The evidence is strong that this was a remarkable design for it’s time—in that it was widely noted and remarked upon by the editors and writers of architectural and lifestyle publications. Both American and international magazines covered the Milam Residence, either focusing on it individually, or including it as an indicator of larger trends in contemporary architectural design.

Prominent among the magazines which published the house (near the time of its completion) were:

  • Architectural Record (three times)

  • House and Garden

  • Vogue

  • Architectural Design (UK)

  • House and Home

  • Architecture D’aujourd’hui (France)

  • Architettura (Italy)

  • Zodiac (Italy)

The coverage seems to have, near-universally, given praise: either about the house itself, or about it as a representative of positive trends in residential design, or about its architect. Here are some examples:

HOUSE AND HOME:

Their April 1964 issue had an article about Modern trends in home design, “Three Houses WIth Daring New Shapes,” and illustrated it with designs by Eric Defty, John Rex, and Paul Rudolph. The introduction explained their viewpoint—and mentions Rudolph’s house with praise:

“Architecture worthy of the name never leaves the viewer bored. It is dynamic, exciting and often daring because the juxtaposition of shapes and volumes sets up a flow of space related to the textures, patterns and colors in the house. Often, it artfully contrasts a sense of openness with the security feeling of shelter. Too many of today’s houses are familiar, static and so impersonal they hardly qualify as architecture. Not so the houses shown at the right and on the following pages. Architect Paul Rudolph’s beach house in Jacksonville, Fla. has a three dimensional facade of concrete block that spells out the interior arrangement of rooms and floor levels. The working facade—some architectural critics believe it has started a whole new trend in design—is a series of deep squares and rectangles that look out on the sea and shade the interior. Inside the house, seven floor levels follow the pattern of the facade and help define the flow of space.”

The article’s extended captions pointed-out various features of the house’s design:

“Changing levels and varied ceiling heights emphasize the different uses of space in Architect Paul Rudolph’s concrete-block beach house. For example: the floor plane drops to form a big conversation pit in the high-ceilinged living room, then rises two steps in the rear to the open dining room and rises another three steps to an intimate, low-ceilinged inglenook. Space flows smoothly from one area to another.

Plan orients the active living areas and master bedroom to the sea. The basic planning module is the length of a concrete block. View of ocean, seen here from the dining room is framed by deep sun-breaks. The conversation pit is in foreground, the inglenook at right. View of living and dining areas from the inglenook in the foreground shows variety of floor levels and ceiling heights. Moors arc terrazzo. Facade on the sea is a geometric arrangement o f sun-breaks , or brise-soleils , that hint at the interior arrangement of space. Sand-colored concrete-block rectangles are deep enough to shade the interior and help keep the house cool without drapes which would block the magnificent ocean view. The lowest sun- break, at lower left, frames a utility room; the highest make a rooftop lookout — a widow’s walk in a modern idiom.”

House and Home’s article on contemporary examples of residential design had a section on the Milam residence---and it included some atmospheric views.  Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

House and Home’s article on contemporary examples of residential design had a section on the Milam residence---and it included some atmospheric views.

Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

The article’s extended captions pointed-out various features of the house’s design:

“Changing levels and varied ceiling heights emphasize the different uses of space in Architect Paul Rudolph’s concrete-block beach house. For example: the floor plane drops to form a big conversation pit in the high-ceilinged living room, then rises two steps in the rear to the open dining room and rises another three steps to an intimate, low-ceilinged inglenook. Space flows smoothly from one area to another.

Plan orients the active living areas and master bedroom to the sea. The basic planning module is the length of a concrete block. View of ocean, seen here from the dining room is framed by deep sun-breaks. The conversation pit is in foreground, the inglenook at right. View of living and dining areas from the inglenook in the foreground shows variety of floor levels and ceiling heights. Moors arc terrazzo. Facade on the sea is a geometric arrangement of sun-breaks , or brise-soleils , that hint at the interior arrangement of space. Sand-colored concrete-block rectangles are deep enough to shade the interior and help keep the house cool without drapes which would block the magnificent ocean view. The lowest sun- break, at lower left, frames a utility room; the highest make a rooftop lookout — a widow’s walk in a modern idiom.”

VOGUE:

While not an architectural journal, the fashion magazine, Vogue, did supply its readers with news about other trends in contemporary culture---including about architecture. An article, in the magazine’s September 1963 issue, focused on the architect (and showed the Milam residence), and it was titled “Paul Rudolph: Young Mover, Changing The Look Of American Architecture.”

The fashion magazine, Vogue, told its readers about new trends in design, including architecture. This 1963 issue carried an article about Paul Rudolph, and—as part of the article—included the Milam residence.

The fashion magazine, Vogue, told its readers about new trends in design, including architecture. This 1963 issue carried an article about Paul Rudolph, and—as part of the article—included the Milam residence.

ARCHITECTURAL RECORD:

Architectural Record seems to have been especially taken with the house, including it in their pages several times during the decade—and it was honored to be among the designs chosen for their annual Record Houses issue in May 1963.

Architectural Record  included the house in it’s 1963 Record Houses issue. This is the opening page of the article about the house---and the layout featured a photo by Ezra Stoller.  Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

Architectural Record included the house in it’s 1963 Record Houses issue. This is the opening page of the article about the house---and the layout featured a photo by Ezra Stoller.

Image courtesy of: US Modernist Library of 20th century architectural journals.

Architectural Record’s comments are worth quoting at length:

“One of the most uniquely different designs among this year’s Record Houses, is this one with its very sculptural use of concrete block. The exterior of the house is dominated by the powerful composition of rectangles forming a sunshade across the rear facade (shown above i the original sketch and completed structure). The spirit of this wall is continued on the interior of the house, where the floors rearranged on seven different levels. Comments of the owners, after having lived in the house for some time, are worth noting: “We knew enough of Mr. Rudolph’s previous works to know that the end result would correspond to our ideas of beauty . . . (and) our faith in the architect was well placed. We are extremely fond of the house. Externally, it is a beautiful piece of sculpture-blending graciously with the sea and the sand surrounding it. It is very comforting inside ... different ceiling heights, different views, different floor levels make it always interesting, always varied

The house is a very spacious and conveniently arranged one. All the living areas are essentially one room, with areas for dining, sitting by the fireplace, and the like, created principally by changes in the floor levels. The hallway linking the upstairs bedrooms is treated as a balcony, and adds yet another level to this varied space. As a counterfoil, colors and other decoration are subdued. As can be noted in these photos of the Milam house, the already big living areas are made to appear even larger and more open by using very few pieces of portable furniture. In fact, about the only ones are the dining table and its seats. Basic seating for conversation and lounging is formed by cushioned units supported by one of the floor levels. The house is constructed of sand colored concrete block, left exposed inside and out. The main floor is terrazzo, and the second floors are hardwood or carpet except for tile in the bathrooms. Ceilings are acoustical plaster for noise absorption in the big areas. The small windows in the baths are supplemented for daylighting by plastic skylights. One of the baths also has an outside exit and stair to serve as a dressing area for swimmers from the beach. Bedroom closets are provided in the nooks near each entrance. The kitchen is conveniently placed for access to the living and dining areas (via a pass through), to the garage for unloading groceries, and to the front door. The entire house is air conditioned. The cost of the house itself was about $88,074.”

OWNING A MASTERPIECE

If you’re interested in possibly purchasing this distinguished house in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, please contact:

Mr. Robert C. Champion (904) 755-4785 robertchampion@bellsouth.net The asking price is $ 4,450,000

CONCRETE HEROES: SAVING THE MONUMENTS OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE

A review of:

CONCRETE: CASE STUDIES IN CONSERVATION PRACTICE

Edited by Catherine Croft and Susan Macdonald with Gail Ostergren
Conserving Modern Heritage series of the The Getty Conservation Institute
www.getty.edu/publications

These images, from “Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice,” are from the chapter about concrete restoration at Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille.

Buildings are like human bodies: over time, things happen to them—generally not good things….Even when Modern architects had the best intentions, and relied on what they thought was forward-looking and scientifically derived construction methods, the “bodies” of Modern buildings are showing their age. Some repairs are easier than others: one can re-plaster or re-apply stucco without too much trouble. But some are head-scratchers, as when, during renovation, one finds that the original architect used a product that is no longer available. That happened when renovating a famous mid-century Modern house: a plastic corrugated panel (of a type popular in that era) was not made any more—leading to an expensive custom order. But among all the materials that present themselves for repair, concrete—especially exposed concrete as used in some of Modernism’s most iconic works—is among the most difficult to work with.

We’re all familiar with classic views of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation at Marseille—truly an icon of Modern architecture—but what of the reality when moisture has seeped below the surface and corroded the reinforcing, and parts of the surface have flaked off? Can it be repaired? [And by “repair”, we don’t just mean excising and replacing broken or decayed areas, but rather making the repair blend-in as much as possible, so that it does not look like a carelessly done patch. ]

Moreover, concrete buildings have their own special issues. When moisture reaches reinforcing, it not only leads to spalling (as the rusting steel expands), but also possibly undermines the structure itself—with serious consequences for the building’s integrity. Dirt from the atmosphere and streaks from flowing water adhere to concrete’s subtly fissured surfaces… Well, there’s no need to go on, as the indictments against aging concrete are already part of the pro-and-anti Modern architecture discourse—and particularly when discussing works that have been characterized as “Brutalist” [A term, by-the-way, which we dispute—but that’s another discussion.] Since a significant portion of Paul Rudolph’s oeuvre used exposed concrete—beautifully and artistically, we contend—we are naturally concerned about repair issues and techniques.

“Concrete: Case Studies in Conservation Practice” is a fascinating new book that offers hope and tangibly useful information on the repair of concrete architecture. They do it via case studies—and oh what “cases” they show: some of the most famous buildings of the Modern era!

Among their 14 case studies are:

  • Unité d’habitation by Le Corbusier

  • Brion Cemetery by Carlo Scarpa

  • New York Hall of Science by Harrison and Abramovitz

  • Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, Yale, by Eero Saarinen

  • Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Pampulha by Oscar Niemeyer

  • “Untitled,” an artwork by Donald Judd

Each had its own problems, and the many authors (34 contributors in all) show the unique issues of the buildings, the solutions proposed and executed—and, finally, the superb, fresh results of their ministrations.

Did we say that the book is beautiful? One doesn’t usually expect technically-oriented studies to be visually attractive but this volume shows it can be done. The writers and editors (with Getty’s book designer for this project, Jeffrey Cohen) have assembled a wealth of good photographs (many in color), intriguing drawings (some vintage, and may newly created), and vivid diagrams—and put them together in a way that is inviting. Each case/chapter’s text clearly describes the various teams’ approaches to their building, their careful investigations, their considerations in choosing which techniques were to be used, and the consequences. Yet, while fully informative, the amount of detail is not overloaded, and can be readily digested by the interested reader. We wish more architecture/construction-science books were so appealingly and richly communicative.

There is nothing as convincing as “before and after.” This book shows a multiplicity of projects—differing in their problems, sizes, scales, locations, and building types. It makes abundantly clear that, however grim and despair-inducing concrete repair problems can be, there are effective, creative, rigorous techniques for resolving them. Bravo to the authors and editors of this fine book—and to the Getty Conservation Institute for bringing it forth. We look forward to future volumes in their Conserving Modern Heritage series.

Milam Residence - with beach restored - put back on the market in time to celebrate NATIONAL PRESERVATION MONTH

It doesn’t get more “classic Rudolph” than this: the Milam Residence’s beach-facing elevation. The house is located in Ponte Verda Beach, FL, and this striking view was taken in January, 1962, one year after its completion. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor. Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

It doesn’t get more “classic Rudolph” than this: the Milam Residence’s beach-facing elevation. The house is located in Ponte Verda Beach, FL, and this striking view was taken in January, 1962, one year after its completion. Photograph by Joseph W. Molitor. Courtesy of the Joseph W. Molitor architectural photograph collection, located in the Columbia University, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Department of Drawings and Archives.

Human beings are, for the most part, naturally acquisitive beings: if we see something desirable, we want it - to hold it, to keep it, to own it, and - hopefully - to protect it. There’s no shame in that yearning - it’s a response built into us, a product of our evolution. How much the better when our eyes and tastes are attracted to excellence: when our desires are for things of the greatest beauty, elegance, and high achievement. Well, you can now fulfill that thirst in the domain of architecture: one of Paul Rudolph’s most important homes - a true “signature” work - is now available.

The Milam Residence in Ponte Verda Beach, Florida, by Paul Rudolph, was completed at the beginning of the 1960’s, and instantly became one of - maybe the - paradigm image of what great, Modern, American residential architecture could be. And no wonder: Rudolph’s design elegantly combines:

  • visual richness, via a celebration of geometry

  • striking clarity in composition

  • functional rigor in planning

  • sensible response to the environment’s potential for creating intense solar gain and glare

  • a diversity of spaces which allow for varied uses—and a relaxed-but-elegant way-of-living

  • a practical approach to construction

  • superb siting along an attractive beach

Rudolph commented on his design:

“A composition of considerable spatial variety with vertical and horizontal interpenetration of spaces clearly defined inside and out. Gone are the earlier notions of organization through regular structure with subdivisions of space freely spaced. Spatial organization has taken the place of purely structural organization. Floors and walls are extended in elaborated forms toward the views, thereby making of the facade a reflection of the interior space. The brises-soleil also serve as mullions for the glass, turning the exterior wall into a series of deep openings filled only with glass. The exceptional wild Florida site 60 ft. above the Atlantic Ocean is a counterfoil to the geometry of the structure.” [Paul Rudolph quoted in: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. New York: Praeger, 1970]

The family of Arthur W. Milam, who originally commissioned the building, have been owner-residents since the building was finished, and have cared for it with pride. Now, they are making the building available - and they are hoping that the next owner will be struck by the building’s many beauties and virtues, as well as understanding its importance as a work of truly great Modern architecture.

The Milam family has also been doing some site restoration: installing a new retaining wall along the beach. This stabilizes the beautiful terrain which ascends up to the house.

A new retaining wall has been installed, stabilizing the terrain on the beach-side of the house. Photo: courtesy of the Milam family.

A new retaining wall has been installed, stabilizing the terrain on the beach-side of the house. Photo: courtesy of the Milam family.

This could allow the next owner the option to build decks and/or stairs, as needed, upon the site—perhaps ones like Rudolph himself envisioned in his superb drawings of the house:

Paul Rudolph’s drawing of the Milam Residence’s site plan, and his perspective of the beach side of the house. They show his proposed design for stairs and platforms: they would elegantly cascade from the house, down the dunes, towards the beach below. Drawings: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation

You can learn more about the Milam House (and see more images) at the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation’s project page for this building.

Interested? As William F. Buckley once said “I cannot imagine that anyone who has the money will put off the purchase …; or that anyone who hasn’t the money will put off borrowing to buy…” We endorse such enthusiasm for excellence—and we’ll be happy to put you in-touch with the owner. Just contact us via our email at office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

AN OCCASION FOR CELEBRATION

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archaeological resources.

We are happy to note the Milam Residence is on that distinguished list. It achieved that status in 2016, and you can see their official page on the house here—and their extensive and deeply researched report on the house here.

It is always a good time to celebrate Paul Rudolph—and the combination of Preservation Month and news of the restored beachfront at the Milam Residence is a double-treat.

Rudolph Reimagined: A New York Family’s Reworking of an Iconic Rudolph Interior

“It’s pretty darn original,” Carolyn Rowan says with a beaming smile as she shows me into the living room of her family’s stunning apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side; and indeed it is. Described by Ms. Rowan as a “labor of love,” her apartment’s interior is one of particular note for more than purely aesthetic reasons. Redesigned for banker Maurits Edersheim and his wife Claire in 1970 from its original 1917 form, the interior of the 5th-floor apartment is a noted example of Paul Rudolph’s interior works.

When Ms. Rowan and her husband, Marc—longtime residents of the 6th floor—purchased the apartment, they made a promise to Claire Edersheim, who often spoke about how she and Maurits “built the apartment with Rudolph,” that it would remain largely unaltered and that she and her husband would do little to mar or obscure Rudolph’s mastery. The end result of this promise, which was lovingly undertaken with the assistance of noted interior designer Tony Ingrao, is a sleek and retro space that, while more contemporary, retains the Rudolphian whimsy that makes it so unique.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com above an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The heart of Rudolph’s vision remains, but in an updated form. Original 1970’s features like track lighting have been supplanted by more modern fixtures, and features like the unique “u” shaped couch, which the Rowans remade in the exact same footprint as the one Ms. Edersheim took with her when she sold the unit, has been reupholstered in a more muted fabric.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com above an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

Unfortunately, many Rudolph interiors are lost, razed by later homeowners who lack a knowledge of his significance or an appreciation of his works, which is why it’s important to emphasize renovations like the one undertaken by the Rowan family. As pictured above, the Rowans’ transformed the office space from its original seventies feel to one that was better suited to their own taste, while retaining Rudolph’s couch, desk, stair-shelves, and ceiling decoration.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Genevieve Garruppo courtesy of Tony Ingrao Design’s Intagram

The Rowan renovation shows how an owner of a Rudolph property or interior can still allow for Rudolph’s details to shine through, like the mirrored walls and kidney-shaped sofa seen above.

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The hallway, pictured above, received the most changes — however, Rudolph’s design is still present in the sloping walls that punctuate the center right of the hallway, which was once the playroom of the Edersheim children (and is now a foyer that leads to the second story of the Rowan duplex).

Pictured: A before shot, taken by Anthony Cotsifas courtesy of 1stDibs.com next to an after shot, taken by Ethan Shapiro

The dining room, seen above, has been repainted in an airy white, and retains the original Paul Rudolph dining table, which cleverly breaks apart into three smaller, circular tables whose connecting leaves fold neatly under the shelving unit against the wall. Though bereft of the delft pottery it was made to showcase, the unique feature wall Rudolph designed still remains in its original form.

Pictured: A before shot provided by Carolyn Rowan next to an after shot taken by Ethan Shapiro

It isn’t easy to be the steward of an iconic property, especially one full of original architectural details. Luckily, there are sensitive owners like the Rowan Family who value such a property and have, throughout their four-year-long renovation, kept the heart and soul of Rudolph alive in their space. Right down to the last mirrored wall pane.

A LUMINOUS PHOTOGRAPHER: JOE POLOWCZUK

The Modulightor Building, on 58th street in New York City, designed by Paul Rudolph. Joe Polowczuk’s photograph, taken as evening was coming on—what he poetically calls “the blue hour”—shows the building glowing from within.

The Modulightor Building, on 58th street in New York City, designed by Paul Rudolph. Joe Polowczuk’s photograph, taken as evening was coming on—what he poetically calls “the blue hour”—shows the building glowing from within.

Architecture and photography have had a long relationship—maybe the longest: the three prime candidates for the world’s first photograph are a streetscape (in which buildings are sharply prominent); a roofscape; or a still-life which includes architectural fragments or castings of ornament.

Of course, photography and Modern architecture are even more intimate: from the very beginnings of Modernism, its advocates have used dramatically composed photographs to spread the gospel, publicize, and persuade. Indeed, a number of architectural photographers have themselves become legendary (at least within the architectural community). Some of the most prominent examples would be: Ezra Stoller, G. E. Kidder Smith, Julius Shulman, and Yukio Fukazawa. Also, a number of distinguished Modern architects and designers have shown a personal passion for photography, getting behind the camera themselves - and that would include Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames, László Moholy-Nagy, and Le Corbusier.

Joe Polowczuk is in that great tradition: A trained architect, who has been working in New York for the past 20 years, he explains that he

“… naturally gravitated towards documenting the built environment for my own projects and other design peers. I strive to provide the finest images for my clients using a keen eye for composition, and the most up to date technical methods available with digital imaging.”

He won a distinguished award in 2012: the New York City Landmarks Conservancy, Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, for his work on the Banner Building (in New York’s NoHo Historic District.)

His design-oriented photography includes work that includes both architecture and interiors (offices, residential, hospitality, and retail). He has also caught the most beautiful images of moving water and of surfing (his main non-architectural pleasure, he admits!)

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation was so impressed with Joe Polowczuk’s work that we commissioned him photograph our headquarters building - the Modulightor Building - and also make photographs of the Paul Rudolph-designed chair [which the Foundation is now reproducing, using Rudolph’s original dimensions & details, and offering to interested collectors - see: https://www.paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org/shop/paul-rudolph-rolling-armchair

To see works from Joe Polowczuk’s luminous portfolio, you can visit his website:

https://www.joepolowczuk.com/

and his Instagram page:

https://www.instagram.com/jpolowczuk_photography/

But, for this moment, you might enjoy these works of Joe’s:

Rudolph's Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo - an Artist Responds - Artistically!

“Disposable: Shoreline Apartment Complex Unit”  Plastic canvas, acrylic yarn, tissue box, 8 X 16.5 X 21 inches, 2016.    An artwork by Buffalo-born & based, fiber artist Kurt Treeby. This is his depiction of Paul Rudolph’s    Shoreline Apartments    in Buffalo. It is part of a set of works by Treeby, the “Disposable” series, involving—in the artists recounting—“thousands of precise stitches, all sewn by hand…”    Photo:    www.kurttreeby.com

“Disposable: Shoreline Apartment Complex Unit” Plastic canvas, acrylic yarn, tissue box, 8 X 16.5 X 21 inches, 2016.

An artwork by Buffalo-born & based, fiber artist Kurt Treeby. This is his depiction of Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo. It is part of a set of works by Treeby, the “Disposable” series, involving—in the artists recounting—“thousands of precise stitches, all sewn by hand…”

Photo: www.kurttreeby.com

SHORELINE APARTMENTS IN BUFFALO

Shoreline Apartments is a fascinating complex of residences on Niagara Street in Buffalo, NY, completed  in 1974 to the designs of Paul Rudolph. To say that it “is” is a bit problematic, because the entire set of residences is slated for demolition - and, as of this writing, about half of the complex still exists (but how long that extant portion will remain is unknown.)

“Rudolph’s original scheme, composed of monumental, terraced, prefabricated housing structures, provided an ambitious alternative to high-rise dwelling that was meant to recall the complexity and intimacy of old European settlements.” – Nick Miller, in The Architect’s Newspaper

“Rudolph’s original scheme, composed of monumental, terraced, prefabricated housing structures, provided an ambitious alternative to high-rise dwelling that was meant to recall the complexity and intimacy of old European settlements.” – Nick Miller, in The Architect’s Newspaper

Here’s a good, concise background on the project, as reported by Nick Miller in The Architect’s Newspaper (November 5, 2013):

[Arthur] Drexler exhibited Rudolph’s original, much more dramatic scheme for Buffalo’s Shoreline Apartments alongside pending projects by Philip Johnson and Kevin Roche in an exhibition entitled Work in Progress. The projects on display were compiled to represent a commitment “to the idea that architecture, besides being technology, sociology and moral philosophy, must finally produce works of art.”

Completed in 1972, the 142-unit low-income housing development was featured in both the September 1972 issue of Architectural Record as well as the 1970 exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Like many of their contemporaries, the inventive, complex forms and admirable social aspirations of the development have been overshadowed by disrepair, crime, and startling vacancy rates (30 percent in 2006 according to Buffalo Rising).

The Shoreline Apartments that stand today represent a scaled down version of the original plan. Featuring shed roofs, ribbed concrete exteriors, projecting balconies and enclosed gardens, the project combined Rudolph’s spatial radicalism with experiments in human-scaled, low-rise, high-density housing developments. The project’s weaving, snake-like site plan was meant to create active communal green spaces, but, like those of most if its contemporaries, the spaces went unused, fracturing the fabric of Buffalo.

Here’s an image of a portion of the Shoreline complex, as built:

The Shorelines Apartments in 1975, shortly after opening. The large Art Deco skyscraper, at the rear-right, is Buffalo’s City Hall.    Image: Courtesy of EPA/Library of Congress

The Shorelines Apartments in 1975, shortly after opening. The large Art Deco skyscraper, at the rear-right, is Buffalo’s City Hall.

Image: Courtesy of EPA/Library of Congress

THE ARTIST:  KURT TREEBY

Mr. Treeby, a fiber artist that’s a native of Buffalo (and who is based here), does fascinating work, and—on his website—you can find his own text on his career, from which we quote:

Kurt Treeby first studied art at the College of Art and Design at Alfred University. While at Alfred he studied painting, drawing, and art history. After receiving his MFA from Syracuse University Treeby develped a conceptual-based approach to art making that continues to develop as he works with a wide range of fiber and textile processes. His work comments of the production and reception of art, as well as the role art plays in our collective memories. He focuses on iconic imagery and the connection between so-called "high" and "low" art forms. Treeby has exhibited his work on a national and international level. He teaches studio art and art appreciation at the College at Brockport, State University of New York, and Erie Community College.

KURT TREEBY’S “DISPOSABLE” SERIES

The artist has done a series of artworks, each of which is a significant building (or complex of buildings) that has been demolished—or, like Shoreline, is on the way to being demolished. Among the building’s he’s focused on are: The Larkin Building (by Frank Lloyd Wright), BEST Products Showrooms (by SITE), the Niagara Falls Wintergarden (by Cesar Pelli), and various other structures. The one he did, of a  portion of the Shoreline, captures the Paul Rudolph’s design very nicely!

Here are some excerpts from Mr. Treeby’s beautiful and sensitive artistic statement on his work—and this series in particular:

Every city includes a variety of structures including historical landmarks, industrial factories, and utilitarian homes. My work examines the architectural ecosystem of production, consumption, and destruction embedded into the social, economic, and physical landscape of cities, reimagining a future apart from their industrial or commercial past.

Focusing on iconic structures, I faithfully replicate architectural and structural details from an alchemy of historical records and collective memory. I recreate these buildings in plastic canvas and craft-store yarn, amplifying the tension between fine art and craft. The final sculptures function as the visual embodiment of the restoration process, as historical records, and as personal memories; all imperfect and incomplete.

I use the medium of plastic canvas because it is rooted in domestic crafts. Traditionally, the medium is used to construct decorative covers resembling quaint cottages or holiday-themed houses for disposable items like tissues and paper napkins. Unlike the fantastical commercial patterns, my sculptures are often larger, replicating complex buildings that have been demolished or significantly altered over time. Because I cannot always experience the original structures, I combine archival records and satellite imagery to help me understand the building’s original site.

The hours spent on each piece are a meditation and a reflection on loss. Engaging in this meticulous process is my way of paying tribute to the original architects. My imperfect buildings act a stand in for the original, and as monuments to memory itself.


We urge you to visit Kurt Treeby’s website, and explore his movingly intriguing work for yourself: http://kurttreeby.com

TWO RESIDENCES BY PAUL RUDOLPH LISTED WITH THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES

Paul Rudolph’s “Umbrella House” from 1953—as seen in 2018. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Paul Rudolph’s “Umbrella House” from 1953—as seen in 2018. Photo: Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Paul Rudolph’s Fullam Residence, from 1959. Photo: Chris Mottalini and Eric Wolff

Paul Rudolph’s Fullam Residence, from 1959. Photo: Chris Mottalini and Eric Wolff

SOME GREAT NEWS

When there’s news about any of Rudolph’s buildings, it’s not always good: too often, we’ve heard about the act (or plan) to demo or damage one of Paul Rudolph’s great designs. But sometimes there is delightful news: for example, the recent purchase of Rudolph’s Hirsch (a.k.a. Halston) Residence by Tom Ford—and Mr. Ford’s stated intention to restore it—which you read about in one of our recent posts, is an example of great news about a Rudolph building!

Now we have some more good news!

Two of Rudolph’s most interesting residential designs—the Fullam Residence (in Bucks County, PA) and the “Umbrella House” (in Sarasota, FL) have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places !

THE UMBRELLA HOUSE

Readers of this Blog may have come across our article about Rudolph’s “Umbrella House”—but in case you haven’t seen it, you can read it (and learn a great deal about this fascinating design) here.

The “Weekly List” of the National Register of Historic Places now shows that it is listed with them. Here’s the page on which this is announced.

And the official listing reads:

FLORIDA, SARASOTA COUNTY,
Umbrella House,
1300 Westway Dr.,
Sarasota, MP100003417,
LISTED, 2/4/2019
(Sarasota School of Architecture MPS)

THE FULLAM RESIDENCE

The “Weekly List” of the National Register for Historic Places shows that it now listed with them. Here’s the page on which this is announced.

And the official listing reads:

PENNSYLVANIA, BUCKS COUNTY,
Fullam, John and Alice, House,
372 Brownsburg Rd.,
Wrightstown Township, SG100003519,
LISTED, 3/15/2019

By-the-way:

This is a good moment to make a note on the house’s (and original client’s) correct name. The accurate spelling is: Fullam (as shown in the National Register listing above). We only point this out because one sometimes sees it listed as “Fulham”—and that’s led to some confusion when doing research.

ABOUT BEING LISTED ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER

WHAT CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION ARE USED, WHEN THEY CONSIDER A BUILDING, SITE, OR STRUCTURE FOR “LISTING”?

Let’s let the National Park Service (of which the National Register is a part) speak for themselves. The range of possible reasons for listing are fascinatingly varied—and here is their document about “NATIONAL REGISTER CRITERIA FOR EVALUATION”:

Criteria for Evaluation

The quality of significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture is present in districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, and:

  • That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or

  • That are associated with the lives of significant persons in our past; or

  • That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or

  • That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory.

Criteria Considerations

Ordinarily cemeteries, birthplaces, graves of historical figures, properties owned by religious institutions or used for religious purposes, structures that have been moved from their original locations, reconstructed historic buildings, properties primarily commemorative in nature, and properties that have achieved significance within the past 50 years shall not be considered eligible for the National Register. However, such properties will qualify if they are integral parts of districts that do meet the criteria or if they fall within the following categories:

  • A religious property deriving primary significance from architectural or artistic distinction or historical importance; or

  • A building or structure removed from its original location but which is primarily significant for architectural value, or which is the surviving structure most importantly associated with a historic person or event; or

  • A birthplace or grave of a historical figure of outstanding importance if there is no appropriate site or building associated with his or her productive life; or

  • A cemetery that derives its primary importance from graves of persons of transcendent importance, from age, from distinctive design features, or from association with historic events; or

  • A reconstructed building when accurately executed in a suitable environment and presented in a dignified manner as part of a restoration master plan, and when no other building or structure with the same association has survived; or

  • A property primarily commemorative in intent if design, age, tradition, or symbolic value has invested it with its own exceptional significance; or

  • A property achieving significance within the past 50 years if it is of exceptional importance.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR A BUILDING TO BE “LISTED” ON THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES—AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Once again, we’ll let them speak for themselves. The following is excerpted from their own information pages:

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archaeological resources.

How are Properties Evaluated?

To be considered eligible, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This involves examining the property’s age, significance, and integrity.

  • Age and Integrity:  Is the property old enough to be considered historic (generally at least 50 years old) and does it still look much the way it did in the past?

  • Significance:  Is the property associated with events, activities, or developments that were important in the past? With the lives of people who were important in the past? With significant architectural history, landscape history, or engineering achievements? Does it have the potential to yield information through archaeological investigation about our past?

National Register Listing Process

Proposed nominations are reviewed by your state’s historic preservation office and the state’s National Register Review Board. The length of the state process varies but will take a minimum of 90 days.

Complete nominations, with certifying recommendations, are submitted by the state to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C. for final review and listing by the Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places. The National Park Service makes a listing decision within 45 days.

Results & Owner Information

Listing in the National Register of Historic Places provides formal recognition of a property’s historical, architectural, or archaeological significance based on national standards used by every state.

Results include:

  • Becoming part of the National Register Archives, a public, searchable database that provides a wealth of research information

  • Encouraging preservation of historic resources by documenting a property’s historic significance

  • Providing opportunities for preservation incentives, such as:

  • Federal preservation grants for planning and rehabilitation

  • Federal investment tax credits

  • Preservation easements to nonprofit organizations

  • International building code fire and life safety code alternatives

  • Possible State tax benefit and grant opportunities. Check with your State Historic Preservation Office for historic property incentives available within your state

  • Involvement by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation when a Federal agency project may affect historic property

  • Find out information on the care and maintenance of your historic property through various NPS Preservation Briefs and Tech Notes

  • Network with other historic property owners, tour historic areas, or chat with preservationists through Conferences, Workshops, and Preservation Organizations

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.

Paul Rudolph's Walker Guest House For Sale

Image: © Ezra Stoller / Esto

Image: © Ezra Stoller / Esto

The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation has learned that Paul Rudolph’s iconic Walker Guest House will be for sale in the coming weeks. The listing will include the Walker Guest House and the main gulf-front residence on a 1.6 acre lot for $6,795,000.

The 1952 project was the first commission received by the thirty-four year old Rudolph after he left his partnership with Ralph Twitchell. Rudolph would later describe it as one of his favorite homes, saying the home “crouches like a spider in the sand.” The project would also be known as the ‘Cannonball House’ because of Rudolph’s use of red cannonballs as weights to hold the home’s signature wood panels in place.

Rudolph’s renderings showing the movable flaps for privacy. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

According to Rudolph in the 1970 book The Architecture of Paul Rudolph by Sibyl Moholy-Nagy,

"Two bays on each side of this guest cottage are filled with pivoting panels which function as
1  the enclosing wall,
2  the ventilating element,
3  the shading device,
4  the hurricane shelter.
The third bay is filled with glass, to admit light and splendid views. When the panels are closed, the pavilion is snug and cave-like, when open the space psychologically changes and one is virtually in the landscape."

Plan with raised wall elements.  Two sections each of all four walls can be swung upwards into a horizontal position, steel balls suspended from steel cables provide counter balances.  All connections of the white painted wooden structure are joined by screws.  Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Plan with raised wall elements. Two sections each of all four walls can be swung upwards into a horizontal position, steel balls suspended from steel cables provide counter balances. All connections of the white painted wooden structure are joined by screws. Image: Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation Archives

Author Tim Rohan wrote about the significance of the guest house in Curbed,

The Walker House was Rudolph's complex tribute to and critique of the International Style's most celebrated dwelling, the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe (Plano, IL, 1946-51). With its lightweight, white wood frame, the Walker House was Rudolph's "poor man's" version of the Farnsworth's expensive white, steel frame, whose beauty he could not help but admire. Rudolph corrected the main drawback of the Farnsworth House, evident as well in the Glass House (New Canaan, CT, 1945-49) by Philip Johnson: lack of privacy. Edith Farnsworth felt exposed by her house's glass walls, which she was powerless to change. For privacy, Johnson retreated to the almost windowless confines of his adjacent Brick House. Rudolph rectified this drawback by allowing the user to adjust the shutters of the Walker House for privacy and to suit their moods. Rudolph explained, "With all the panels lowered the house is a snug cottage, but when the panels are raised it becomes a large screened pavilion. If you desire to retire from the world you have a cave, but when you feel good there is the joy of an open pavilion." The Walker House set Rudolph upon the path to concluding that architecture was the art of manipulating space in order to affect and reflect human emotions, as was evident from the interior complexity of his Brutalist buildings, the most famed being his Yale Art & Architecture Building (New Haven, CT, 1958-63).

Many architecture students have studied the design and built models of it while in school making it one of Rudolph’s best known early works along with his 1961 Milam Residence. The home was also recognized by the AIA Florida chapter as ‘Best Residential Building in the State of Florida’ in 2012.

Please spread the word about the upcoming sale and if you know anyone interested in preserving the house, please reach out to us at office@paulrudolphheritagefoundation.org

Paul Rudolph Featured in Docomomo US 'Doco Games' for Giving Tuesday

VOTEFORRUDOLPH.jpg

Paul Rudolph’s Burroughs Wellcome Headquarters, Shoreline Apartments and Niagara Falls Public Library are featured in Docomomo’s ‘first ever battle for architectural survival with the “Doco Games.” 

According to the organization’s website,

The #DocoGames is a day-long tournament that features sixteen of Docomomo US’ biggest supporters fighting to save a building they love.

Armed with razor-sharp adjectives like “rectilinear”, “articulated” and “brutalist”, the #DocoGames will begin promptly at 10:00 AM Eastern on Tuesday, November 27th, with four (4) rounds of players advancing every two (2) hours. Each of the (16) sixteen players will encourage friends and colleagues through social media channels to give to Docomomo US throughout the day.The player who brings in the most money during each round will advance to face a new player. 

Round 1 pits Mr. Rudolph’s architecture against such notable works as SOM’s Union Carbide Building, Richard Neutra’s George Kraigher residence and M. Paul Friedberg’s Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

While we don’t want to take sides, we ENCOURAGE YOU TO SUPPORT TEAM RUDOLPH!

Support Tim Hayduk’s love of “PAUL RUDOLPH'S SCULPTURAL ARCHITECTURE” by following this link

Support Kate Wagner’s idea of “BRUTALIST HEAVEN” by following this link

Support Barbara Campagna’s aversion to ‘VICTORIANA’ by following this link.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

Please support Docomomo’s efforts to preserve Modernism and may the BEST RUDOLPH WIN'!