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Old 12-04-2008, 09:48 AM   #1
vanshnookenraggen
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Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Paul Rudolph is without a doubt my favorite modern architect and since he has a few buildings in Boston I figured we needed a thread for him. I'm going to post more about his work later (I have a test in 45 min), but for now this piece from today's Slate.

Quote:
Bringing Brutal Back
Can restoring Paul Rudolph's signature building rescue the architect's reputation as well?
By Witold RybczynskiPosted Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008, at 7:02 AM ET

The newly refurbished and expanded Art and Architecture Building at Yale is a reminder of the important role that fashion plays in the fortunes of architects. When the A&A Building was built in 1963, its architect, Paul Rudolph, was the profession's golden boy. His meteoric rise had begun in Florida in the 1950s with a string of delicate Modernist houses, ingeniously adapted to the subtropical climate. These had led to larger commissions, notably a high school in Sarasota and an art center at Wellesley College. At only 40, Rudolph was made chairman of Yale's architecture department, and then, five years later, came the widely acclaimed A&A, which propelled him into the front rank of the postwar generation's emerging architectural stars.

Rudolph acknowledged that the A&A was influenced by Le Corbusier, who had pioneered an expressive architectural style using bare concrete, generally referred to as brutalism. But the building also had American roots, namely Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Larkin Building in Buffalo, N.Y. An odd mixture, but Rudolph pulled it off and gave it his own spin, with walls of rough striated concrete that resembled corduroy. The resulting composition of vast, pinwheeling forms produced a lyrical monumentalism unmatched by any of his contemporaries.

Yet by the time of his death in 1997, Rudolph was all but forgotten. What happened? In a word, taste?changing taste. By the 1970s, Postmodernism had introduced wit and irony to architecture, neither of which interested the serious Rudolph, whose brand of heroic monumentalism now struck many people?and many potential clients?as bombastic. (It is also true that his inventive buildings often had functional problems?the proverbial leaky roofs.) Commissions eventually dried up, at least in the United States, although he continued to build in Asia. He was regularly passed over for the Pritzker Prize, which went instead to contemporaries such as I.M. Pei and Kevin Roche. Although by then Rudolph had moved away from concrete and brutalism, he was ever tied to that style by the A&A, which also suffered from neglect. Disliked by students and faculty, badly damaged in a mysterious fire in 1969, insensitively altered, and poorly maintained, it remained an ill-kempt, embarrassing reminder of a stalled talent.

According to Robert A.M. Stern, dean of architecture at Yale, the A&A "was not a loved building, and frankly, in my opinion, it would have been torn down if that weren't so expensive." It was Stern who championed the restoration of the building (now Paul Rudolph Hall), which was overseen by architect Charles Gwathmey, once a student of Rudolph's. The restored building is definitely of its time. It's a little self-conscious, has an extremely limited palette of materials?there is really too much concrete?and the bright-orange carpeting is a bit much. But the interlocking spaces, the inventive use of natural light, and the ever-changing levels (there are said to be 37 of them in the 10-story building) are marvelous. The splendid result reaffirms Rudolph as one the most original architectural talents of his generation.

With improved mechanical systems?and double glazing?the environmental shortcomings of the original building have been rectified, and it's possible to appreciate the A&A as a place of learning. One of Rudolph's charming ideas was to scatter plaster casts of architectural fragments throughout the building?a medieval figure in the lobby, part of the Acropolis frieze in the fire stair, a large Roman statue of the goddess Minerva in one of the studios. The resulting "architectural" atmosphere is in contrast to the bland, corporate interiors of the art history department, which is located in a new adjoining wing. Gwathmey had the unenviable task of adding on to Rudolph's building, and he did not rise to the occasion. The ill-conceived zinc, limestone, and glass addition appears timid and strikes me as neither an extension of Rudolph's rough aesthetic, nor a successful foil. Or maybe it's just a matter of taste.
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Old 12-04-2008, 11:20 AM   #2
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Thanks for posting this Van.

Also worth a look is the newly refreshed Paul Rudolph Foundation website.

Briv and I have discussed an archBoston field-trip to Kahn's Exeter library -- maybe the A+A should go on the list. And Yale does have more than a few modern masterpieces.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:13 PM   #3
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

The Paul Rudolph housing crisis
By David Hay, New York Magazine

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Since the architect Paul Rudolph?s death, in 1997, his reputation has undergone one of the most dramatic rehabilitations imaginable, and his brutalist, sometimes off-putting buildings?once criticized as the worst of high modernism?s excesses?are now recognized as some of the most expressive American architecture of the twentieth century. They are also some of the most threatened. In 2002, in an effort to honor Rudolph?s legacy and advocate for preserving his work, friends of the architect, including Ernst Wagner, established the Paul Rudolph Foundation. But since then, seven of his buildings have been demolished, and earlier this month, in the face of mounting criticism that the foundation has not helped halt the destruction, Wagner, in poor health, announced he would resign as president. ?I felt like Don Quixote,? he says, sitting in his apartment in the Rudolph-designed townhouse on East 58th Street. ?But what the hell can you do? You need someone like Jackie O. to raise a huge hurrah.?

This past year has been particularly heart-wrenching for Rudolph fans: While his most famous building, the A&A building at Yale University, was rededicated this month as Paul Rudolph Hall after a $126 million restoration, both the elegantly cantilevered Micheels House in Westport, Connecticut, and his Cerrito House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, were torn down. And next year could be even worse, as at least ten more Rudolph buildings are under threat, including the Concourse Building in Singapore, the Blue Cross Blue Shield skyscraper in Boston, and his Orange County Government Center in Goshen. In Sarasota, Florida, the campaign to save Rudolph?s Riverview High School has stalled, and the Cohen House in nearby Siesta Key is now likely headed into foreclosure.

Architectural preservationists across the country recognize that saving the aging canon of mid-century modernism can be expensive, especially in the case of Rudolph, a modernist with a proclivity for experimentation. But in California, groups like the John Lautner Foundation have found success at matching modernist houses with architecturally sophisticated new owners, listing houses for sale on their Website and inviting a prominent Realtor to their advisory board. Wagner, who has been the primary source of funding for the Rudolph Foundation, does not employ a full-time director, relying instead on a constant turnover of volunteers, and the foundation?s board has not met for two years. (The architectural historian Michael Sorkin was surprised to find himself listed as a board member, and the advisory committee includes the architectural critic Peter Blake, who died two years ago.)

To Donald Luckenbill, one of the original directors, the foundation has devolved into nothing more than ?a little club that Ernst had in the building.? Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, says that it is ?well intentioned but not powerful enough nor sufficiently endowed to have any clout.?

Until a new director is chosen in January, Kelvin Dickinson and two other volunteer architects are at the helm. But their efforts are mainly academic?expanding Rudolph?s fan base on the Web and preparing an exhibition of his demolished buildings, scheduled to show at Cooper Union in 2010. ?We need to hire someone full time,? Dickinson says. ?If something like the Micheels House comes along again, we?re way unprepared for it.?
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:40 PM   #4
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture View Post
...it is ?well intentioned but not powerful enough nor sufficiently endowed to have any clout.?
Thanks for your help with the A+A, Bob. Think you can whistle up your Yale classmate, Lord Foster, and lend some clout?
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:24 PM   #5
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

A Star-Architect actually contributing some of their fortune to maintain a landmark? Perish the thought.... It is the ungrateful unwashed peasants whom must pay tithe to maintain such monuments to ego, in between periods of pious worship of their betters, of course!

How dare we ask the glimmering stars of the profession to design architecture which lasts generations and is functional as designed. Anything less is pure monument, or art, and if such egos wish to maintain their idols or worship, or those of past mentors, is it really so much to ask that they perhaps contribute to preserving those relics?

While I do find aspects of Rudolph's work intriguing, the flaws are quite fatal, and deserve a great deal of criticism and due diligence in correcting them in any renovation. Sir Foster's mechanical genius would be rather useful in this regard, if he was willing to donate his time to such a venture.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:15 PM   #6
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beton Brut View Post
Also worth a look is the newly refreshed Paul Rudolph Foundation website.
Wow, java menus, frames, and splash pages, what a blast from the past. And totally broken in every browser that I try. Sigh.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:46 PM   #7
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

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Originally Posted by JimboJones View Post
Until a new director is chosen in January, Kelvin Dickinson and two other volunteer architects are at the helm. But their efforts are mainly academic?expanding Rudolph?s fan base on the Web and preparing an exhibition of his demolished buildings, scheduled to show at Cooper Union in 2010. ?We need to hire someone full time,? Dickinson says. ?If something like the Micheels House comes along again, we?re way unprepared for it.?
Hmmm.... My future is laid out before me.
Was this timed to appear because I was back on the board?

In the past, I haven't been shy about exclaiming that Paul Rudolph is one of my idols. His buildings in Boston, that many of you vilify, primarily his collaborative effort in Government Center, are what fueled my interest in architecture.

The man influenced many things I've done ... still influences what I do.

I am not going to repeat myself as to why his buildings should be restored and saved. I'll leave that to ablarc, beton brut, and others--not until the wrecking ball seems iminent anyway.

Also, glad to read that Transnational won't happen any time soon. The old Blue Cross and Blue Shield Building needs to be studied and appreciated more.

Paul Rudolph's lesser attempts beat most at their best. (Not that he had any lesser--hehe)

As for the 'fatal structural flaws' of his buildings, like others who were pioneering new methods and ideas, and whose completed work needed subsequent 'adjustments,' these shouldn't deter anybody from rectifying those issues for his remaining structures, utilizing all the knowledge and technologies we currently possess, as opposed to bulldozing his buildings into oblivion. (Plus, what else worthwhile are we going to do with all that concrete anyway? Yeah, I know, recycled into other buildings, fill, whatever. I'm not much caught up on that.)
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Old 12-05-2008, 01:32 AM   #8
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Quote:
Wow, java menus, frames, and splash pages, what a blast from the past. And totally broken in every browser that I try. Sigh.
Inexplicable mazes, cubic shapes, broken, blast from the past...sounds like his buildings!

p.s. Good to see Rudolph's reputation continue to revive. It will help Boston's inevitable star status as a world capital of brutalist architecture.
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Old 12-05-2008, 03:19 AM   #9
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

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Inexplicable mazes, cubic shapes, broken, blast from the past...sounds like his buildings!

p.s. Good to see Rudolph's reputation continue to revive. It will help Boston's inevitable star status as a world capital of brutalist architecture.
Ha, yeah, maybe they wanted to recreate the experience of having to work in the unmaintained, antiquated buildings they've become...
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Old 12-22-2008, 01:38 PM   #10
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

http://paulrudolph.blogspot.com/
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Old 10-07-2010, 03:33 PM   #11
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Van --

You're in NYC. Go check this out and share your thoughts.
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:40 PM   #12
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

BB, I don't know how I missed your post but I just got back from that exhibit, while it is kinda sparse, blew my mind. Here are some shots of the room-sized model.























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Old 10-21-2010, 05:23 PM   #13
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

What proposed site was this a model for?
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Old 10-21-2010, 05:46 PM   #14
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Lower Manhattan Expressway. Check out the link Beton provided.
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:03 AM   #15
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Wow. Thanks for the pics - amazing!
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Old 10-22-2010, 11:17 AM   #16
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

some pics from a trip to UMass Dartmouth this spring....















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Old 10-22-2010, 11:54 AM   #17
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Van, how did Rudolph think about transportation for the actual residents of that development - did he expect them to all have cars that could zip onto the expressway? Did he buy into a Robert Moses mindset or was this proposal an effort at mitigation?
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:22 PM   #18
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

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Van, how did Rudolph think about transportation for the actual residents of that development - did he expect them to all have cars that could zip onto the expressway? Did he buy into a Robert Moses mindset or was this proposal an effort at mitigation?
Nope, dude created a PRT (personal rapid transit) system for the entire development.
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:26 PM   #19
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

Those two round bowls -- one covered, one open-air -- were those intended to be sports facilities?
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:49 PM   #20
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Re: Can Paul Rudolph Get Some Love?

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Those two round bowls -- one covered, one open-air -- were those intended to be sports facilities?
I don't think so but then there really wasn't any text that explained what was going on (also the exhibit showed off multiple, evolving designs so it might have been an area at some point). I do know they were built over on/off ramps for the highway. Since all of the "step" pieces are apartments (a modular design Rudolph adapted from an earlier German innovation) I would assume that the "bowls" are apartments.

One thing that struck me was how oblivious the designs seem to be of the massive highway underneath. I live in a Davis Brody Asc. designed development next to the FDR Dr in Manhattan and while the noise of the highway is blocked for most of the residential sections, the parts closest to the highway are quite loud. I can only imagine that a development built OVER the highway would be even louder.
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