Monday, April 20, 2009
To most writers, Strunk and White's The Elements of Style is the seminal tome of their handy work. The the Archi-tourist, one turns to Willensky and White. They grab the AIA Guide. New York City, deservingly has the weightiest volume amongst the cities represented. Growing ever thicker from its inception in 1967, the current (Fourth) edition is the shelf width of the first and second editions combined.
While Boston's may be more manageable to thumb, and more graphic to peruse, and St. Louis' guide may be more melancholy exhibiting great photos and text only to get to the bottom of an entry and read: "demolished"; the New York guide cuts to the chase. Its a big city, and this guide sure helps one navigate. To keep up with the ever changing metropolis, Mr. Willensky has teamed up with Francis Leadon to pen a Fifth Edition, (just described by the NEW YORK TIMES) and guaranteed to challenge the dimensions of a standard CMU block. (If there was ever a reason to purchase an Amazon Kindle, this would be it!)
Over the years, as the volume has grown, so have the descriptions. The current edition lists six projects to Paul Rudolph's credit, although it includes a "hidden" seventh- Paul's last NY work- the Modulightor Building which houses the Foundation and still produces some of Paul's lighting designs right here in NYC. The casual tourist wouldn't know however, because although it scores one of the book's photos, it is identified as just "248 East 58th Street", and not credited to Paul. Not to be knit-picky, but the real address is #246, and how many architects name buildings anymore, really? Let it be the Modulightor as it was intended!
The guide states: "A happy tour-de-force. Steel makes a sculptural facade into a powerful composition" Can't complain with that!
Seven projects is quite a showing. Although Paul conceived of many apartments, libraries, government buildings, parks, and schools in New York, several were outside of the city, and of those within the boroughs, just over a dozen were built- so to have seven included in the guide is quite an accomplishment.
This week we are going to take you along to look at each of the six projects explicitly credited to Paul Rudolph in the guide and get you the best directions on mass transit for your hope of getting there yourself. After we cover what Willensky and White considered "legit Rudolph" we'll also show you the step children- more forgotten work of Rudolph, also unknowingly covered in the guide. Stay tuned!
And as promised: To get to the MODULIGHTOR Building at 246 East 58th Street, you can take the N, R, W, 4, 5, or 6 trains to 59th Street/Lexington Avenue Stations. Exit and walk South to 58th Street, and East of Third Avenue. The building is on the South Side of the Street, closer to Second Avenue. If you would like to visit, we have an Open House on the first Friday of the even numbered months.