Monday, February 23, 2009
Paul Rudolph's architectural renderings in the 1950's put him on the map and he later became known for his intricate pen and ink drawings. Tim Rohan, a scholar who has written extensively about Paul Rudolph's work, has suggested that Paul's use of crosshatching in his renderings for his Art & Architecture building resulted in his experimentation with, and eventual use of, the "corduroy" concrete texture famously used on the building's exterior - a trademark of Rudolph's work that he used on many later projects.
Paul's drawings were often many feet long - sometimes up to eight feet - and required dozens of hours to plan and draw.
He would have staff members work throughout the night and return in the morning to review the work and sign his name before the drawing was then ready to show the client.
While he was gone, employees left to toil through the night would stipple their names in the surrounding trees or grass as a show of defiance - and hope that it would never be caught be Rudolph when he came to examine the rendering the next day.
So next time you see a drawing by Paul Rudolph in a gallery take a close look at it - you never know who's name might be hiding in those bushes...
Now you know.
Friday, February 20, 2009
Michael J. Crosbie reviews Rudolph Hall and Gwathmey's addition in this month's issue of Architecture Week. If you have a subscription, the article includes floor plans of both buildings. A link to the article is here.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This just in from our Rudolph fans in Florida:
The Jacksonville Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and DOCOMOMO/US Florida are again sponsoring a one-day symposium highlighting the achievements of architecture from the Recent Past in Northeast Florida.
Modern Architectural Classics at the Beach will be held at the St. Paul’s by the Sea Episcopal Church (465 11th Ave. N., Jacksonville Beach) on March 7, 2009. A morning session with presentations by North Florida’s most well-know architects and by nationally recognized architectural scholars will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last until 12:00 p.m.
One of the most outstanding structures in Northeast Florida, St. Paul’s by the Sea was designed by Blake Ellis and completed in 1966. The Valdosta, Georgia, architect will also be on hand to discuss the church, which is his favorite project.
An optional tour of Jacksonville’s Beaches other modern masterpieces will depart at 12:30 p.m. The tour – including a box lunch – will be offered at a $55. Thanks to a generous contribution from Title Sponsor the Haskell Company, the morning presentations will be free and open to the general public.
Online registration is available on AIA Jacksonville’s website
The economics of oceanfront property threatens the sustainability of many outstanding examples of Modern architecture along the Northeast Florida coast.
The symposium and tour will hopefully raise public awareness of these works and promote their preservation. The tour will feature the Milam House, Paul Rudolph’s last design for a Florida residence and one of the most famous Modern buildings in Florida
The symposium and tour will pay special attention to projects in Jacksonville Beach and Atlantic Beach by William Morgan. Many of Florida’s most notable architects and architectural historians will participate in the symposium and tour on March 7.
For 150 years, AIA has been the voice of American architects. The Jacksonville chapter has 365 members working together and with their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes.
Headquartered in Paris, DOCOMOMO is the international working party for the DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the MOdern MOvement. DOCOMOMO/US is the working party of DOCOMOMO in the United States. DOCOMOMO/US Florida, a subchapter of DOCOMOMO/US, was organized in 2007. The organization has sponsored numerous educational events and has worked for the preservation of Modern landmarks across the state.
A similar event last year at the Cummer Gallery of Art in Jacksonville was sold out. (St. Paul’s by the Sea can accommodate more than twice as many attendees as the Cummer auditorium.)
Contact: Lane Manis
Office: (904) 389-8421
Fax: (904) 246-1749
Symposium (Free) And Optional Tour ($55) To Honor Modern Architects And Architecture
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Today's CURBED is running an entry on the top ten recent architectural disasters (to famous buildings- no commentary on the finger and developer interventions ruining a neighborhood near you).
Topping the list is Rem Koolhaas's incendiary incident in Beijing, and aside from Rudolph with two, Frank Gehry gives him a run for his money with construction problems in Biloxi, Mississippi, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Two peas in a pod!
Still, Paul, garnering 20% of the list isn't bad. The authors chose to feature the Umbrella House in Sarasota whose roof was lost in a recent hurricane and the ever famous A+A (can we please mention Rudolph for once without a reference to this building?).
Odd as it may be, of Paul's 400+ projects, these two have just undergone the most recent renovations and are amongst the best kept Rudolph buildings world wide. In terms of disaster, we'd consider any of the 11 threatened works Paul has across the country and in Singapore which are under imminent danger. But alas, if we were to critique a blog, we should get just our own, right?
To see all the gore and wreckage, check out the CURBED REAL ESTATE BLOG for all the details.
Monday, February 16, 2009
The High Street "SigEp" House as its currently known on campus at Yale looks much the same from the front as it originally did in the 19th Century. And, like a mullet, this house was business in the front, and party in the back as Paul retained the street facade but added heavily to the rear.
As detailed in the joint issue PERSPECTA 9/10, edited by then-student, Robert A.M. Stern, the main design for the house transpired over a weekend and was a teaching tool to the students of what it takes to make architecture.
Rudolph made extensions to the rear, and carved up the interior to make room for his growing practice and living/party quarters- which included a fur-lined seating pit. After his departure from New Haven, the building changed hands a few times and was converted to apartments.
Through the various owners, and up until recently, many elements like the floating stairs were retained. A clearer example of which can be seen in Rudolph's Halston Residence on 63rd Street for the famous Fashion magnate.
Much like his 23 Beekman Place residence which would follow (and he would intervene into and out of for 30 years), this house was a work in progress and always up for alteration and innovation. The Foundation was quoted in the following article regarding the many recent changes and would like to clarify that the full statement made was that Paul would have probably made changes himself by now- it was in no way an endorsement nor condemnation of what the Fraternity chose to do.
Some four decades later, although the chances of finding an eccentric architect wishing for a studio and apartment and play space in New Haven are proportionately higher than most other cities in America, it is understandable that the changing program would necessitate alterations.
Despite several emails to Fraternity brothers, and in-person visits, we have remained unable to document the building prior to SigEp's alterations. The current look, all decked-out in Ikea, with "state-of-the-art" projection TV, as photographed by Calgary Leveen of the YDN is hardly recognizable as Rudolph's one-time home and can no longer be realistically considered as "Rudolph space".
Click to read the full YALE DAILY NEWS article.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
While you definitely didn't hear it here, there are indeed other significant architects besides Paul Rudolph (gasp!). A density of them even settled in an around their home base of development and nurtured a style which today we identify as the Sarasota School of Architecture. Designing to the humid, tropical climate of Florida, a collection of key architects expanded their practices as Sarasota became more populated, and marked it with a new landscape of regional post-war modern structures.
And although Paul himself split from Ralph Twitchell, and then moved his studio North during the construction of Sarasota High School, many others stayed and continued to design to the site and region, often using green tactics LEED prophesies about today.
If you've ever been curious to see the works of Ralph Twitchell, Philip Hiss, Gene Leedy, Victor Lundy (his Post Office and Lutheran Church shown here), or Mark Hampton, (and others...) we urge you to contact resident architectural guru Martie Lieberman.
For the past decade, Martie has been offering unique individual and group tours for up to three or four people, for $65 per person, $85 for a couple, and $100 for three. Each half-day tour is three hours long, and guaranteed to be fun. Martie also organizes large group tours for schools, clubs, and corporate outings, and can even get you to stay in a Modern home with her Stay and Play packages. These are great for first time visitors to Sarasota and long time residents alike.
Areas covered include Sarasota, Tampa, Lakeland and Winter Haven and neighboring towns.
What better way to experience Modern Sarasota first hand!
You can find all of Martie's contact information at her MODERN SARASOTA WEBSITE
Let her know what you're interested in; tours can be as specific as threatened or public works or as broad as you wish- she'll design the best tour to your interest! But be forewarned, the Rudolph tour is by far the best- catch it before its gone!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The February addition of the Architectural Record has weighed in on the renovated Art & Architecture building at Yale (now known as Rudolph Hall) and the Loria Center for the History of Art addition both by Gwathmey Siegel Associates. Two articles appear in this month's issue:
Gwathmey Siegel Associates Sparks Controversy by Sarah Amelar
The problem of adding onto an icon by Michael J. Lewis
In Ms. Amelar's article, she correctly points out what is both right and wrong about the renovation of Rudolph's masterpiece and Gwathmey's addition. She also notes that while the building has raised awareness of Rudolph's reputation and attention to the current threats to his buildings, one of those happens to be the Greeley Memorial Lab that also belongs to Yale. The building is curiously absent from an approved campus master plan being promoted by the university.
Mr. Lewis succinctly lays out the dilemma of adding on to what many consider a landmark building. Does one wish the addition to fade away behind a facade of glass next to the rugged concrete, as suggested by Vincent Scully? Should the building engage the original in a dialogue about the nature of materials, the advances in building technology or even the intervening changes in "style" or "taste"? Once again, the building makes good points and falls short in some aspects. Perhaps the biggest flaw is that it doesn't seem to address the original building on its level. Rudolph's vision was so very clear and total, and that's what makes the building so powerfully loved - and hated. The slippage of Rudolph's space and structure, described brilliantly by Mr. Lewis as "a fractured cube," comes face to face (and side by side) with a building who's skin seems to easily slip off of it. In the end, they both may become a study in how the presumed permanence of buildings in the past collides with the "temporariness" of buildings being designed today.
It will be interesting to see 50 years from now (as was the difference between the A&A and its addition) if one of Mr. Gwathmey's proteges will come back to design an addition to the Loria Center. If it hasn't blown off the original during a large wind storm, we suggest they listen to Mr. Scully and stick to glass.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
So often we learn about famous works of art from books, slides and photographs. A lucky few of us get to visit the esteemed institutions which are trusted to protect the world's great treasures, and the real-life experience is always more genuine. The condition is more poignant with sculpture, and by its dimensionality, and very nature, Architecture. Besides a few dense collections (i.e. New Haven CT, New Canaan CT, Columbus IN etc.) visiting buildings- Modern buildings often occurs in a state of distraction or only obliquely. Private homes are often, well, private and many commercial and public buildings are becoming increasingly restrictive.
This makes getting to know Rudolph, an artist whose signature was complex, often disorienting spaces, a difficult one to learn. He would sketch in 3-D and drew profusely but too often the drawings (used for building department permits) simplified his work that was sculpted in steel, plaster and glass during job site meetings with willing contractors.
The Paul Rudolph Foundation is grateful to Arcisan Studio of New Canaan CT for sharing a trove of insider photos which document the many nuances of the Micheels house along with its details- some of which arc to other Rudolph interiors, further linking the pieces.
This exercise is particularly poignant for the Micheels Residence once of Westport, CT since it now only exists on paper...in drawings and photographs.
A scholar looking to learn more might find various papers, or even read the 1976 Architectural Record article which interviewed the owner, (a former president of the New England Psychoanalytic Society) who claimed that all he and his wife wanted was for "the house to be beautiful...we didn't want just a number of rooms- you can get that from just anybody; but Rudolph is a genius with space and light and we wanted a light, airy feeling..." The doctor continues to wax "What really impressed us, was that he does all of the designing himself, he worked out everything and if there was something we didn't understand, he would make a sketch to explain it".
Hindsight is everything. In 2007 when the owner took the stand, under oath, during a preservation hearing, a Rudolph enthusiast in the audience jotted down his famous last words to the judge: "I was the client. Paul was the architect, but this was my design. Paul did what I told him to do. This is my house and I don't think its worth preserving."
A lot can change over three decades. And, it would probably take the president of a psychoanalytic group to explain this one, but in the mean time, we're here to make sure history doesn't forget the details...Paul never did.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Paul Rudolph designed a Christian Science Building at the University of Illinois in Urbana during 1962-1967. The building was the second building owned by the group, and it was later demolished in 1987 after the client decided it didn't need the space and a developer approached with an offer to build a high-rise in its place.
The building, a two-story structure with a pinwheel shape in both plan and section, was scaled to fit between a large school-owned field house and a residential neighborhood across the street. The building was made out of Rudolph's unique bush-hammered concrete.
Paul painted the ceiling over the assembly space in bright colors to give people who were sitting through a long sermon something to look at.
"My father, who was a Southern Methodist minister, had his effect on me with regard to religious matters. I thought, as a reaction, that religion should have some joyfulness to it. You can say that that's my effort to make it not the dismal thing in town."
Now you know.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
According to the site:
The system, typealyzer, can by itself find features that distinguishes one type from another. When all features, words and sentences, are statistically analyzed, Typealyzer is able to guess which personality type the text represents.
By studying how people write, we can get an glimpse of what is on the mind of the person and what is characteristic of the person - or, as in the case of a blog - what is typical of the role/persona used when writing that blog. A person can have several blogs - and often have different roles for the various blogs - perhaps as a way to live out more sides of themselves.
So we put in our site and look what came up:
ISTP - The Mechanics
The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.
The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.
So... if you are into driving race cars, or can spare a few hours after leaving the station - we're looking for volunteers. Independent and problem-solving types can send an email to email@example.com
Saturday, February 7, 2009
This month we met a couple looking to purchase a Rudolph house, an artist who studied in Yale's A&A (now Rudolph Hall) immediately after the 1969 fire, 2 board members from Docomomo and a group of students from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). James Chororos, one of the NJIT students, posted a blog on Archinect about his visit to the townhouse here.
We also met a pair of students in the process of touring significant buildings around the East Coast. We discovered they came from the University of Illinois, and were aware of the demolition of Paul's Christian Science Building in Urbana in 1987. The building was designed in the early 60's, and will be the focus of Monday's "Little Known Rudolph Fact."
Its great to see Rudolph's work continue to have a significant impact on architecture and inspire people. We hope the more his work is seen by both future architects and the general public, we will see less of it being torn down in the future.
If you missed this Open House and want to see the duplex for yourself, our next event will be Friday, April 3rd from 6-8 PM. If you have questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Suggested donation is $15/person, $10 for students with the proceeds benifitting the Paul Rudolph Foundation's preservation and advocacy programs.
The building is also available for private tours during other days from 6-7 PM ($15/person, $150 minimum) - please contact the Paul Rudolph Foundation at email@example.com for more information.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
When the economy slowed in New York in the Seventies, Paul occupied his studio with plans for large civic projects- a huge effort to salve the impending open wound from the (unbuilt) Lower Manhattan Expressway Project, an East Side Park, and public housing for the less fortunate.
Governments have often offered assistance to stimulate large projects and keep creative talent busy in times of recession. President Obama has proposed one of the largest overhauls of our nation's infrastructure in generations. While this is sure to add new bridges, roads and schools, let's think for a moment if President Obama challenged the construction industry to higher standards- as he's doing with the flailing automotive industry. Think Green Design. Recycled Materials, Sustainable Structures, Natural Ventilation, Daylighting.
There is great value in not simply building new but also rebuilding our existing structures- refreshing our housing stock, maintaining our heritage. Paul was building Green before it was cool, before it was even called Green- because it was responsible, and it lent itself to enjoyable buildings.
Peter Schubert, design director of RMJM Hillier in NY, and a member of the winning team to rehabilitate the Riverview High School into a Music Kunsthalle sounds the call to the current administration asking for good design.
We would like to take that one step further. Imagine if America could rebuild its infrastructure and its roots at the same time- what a gift to our future generations that would be.
Monday, February 2, 2009
The Hiss Residence is more commonly known as the "Umbrella House" because of the large second story trellis roof that extended from the house to provide cooling for the swimming pool below. The house was originally designed by Rudolph in 1953 for Philip Hiss as a speculative house for his real estate development in Lido Shores, Florida. Mr. Hiss was so impressed by Rudolph's work that he continued to hire him to design larger projects around Sarasota including Riverview High School (1958-1959) and Sarasota High School (1959-1960).
Paul was well known later in life for his experimental use of materials, and his early career was no exception. The wood slats used for the home's "umbrella" were actually tomato stakes. The roof remained a part of the house until it was blown off by a hurricane in the 1970's.
Now you know.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
The Alabaman Architectural Foundation has granted Paul Rudolph's Tuskegee University Chapel their DISTINGUISHED BUILDING AWARD. Click for the full TUSKEGEE UNIVERSITY PRESS RELEASE. Built between 1958-1969, this brick building was initially intended to be constructed of concrete.
Occupying a central position on campus, in the middle of an unrealized Master Plan that Paul also designed, the chapel has entrances on different levels from various sides and does not identify with one main axis.
In the graveyard adjacent, rest George Washington Carver and Booker Taliaferro Washington. The latter gentleman, stipulated in 1881 at the Institute's founding that the students construct every new building on campus by themselves, by hand.
In usual manner, Paul gave them a run for their money.
Visit back soon for our first "Sounds of Rudolph" where we will be posting Paul's building in a whole new sense (aural) to give you a better feel of the inside.