UMass Dartmouth, a public university campus in southeast Massachusetts, was master-planned and designed tabula rasa mostly by Paul Rudolph, the midcentury architect known for his pioneering Brutalist buildings. Now, the university's College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) is celebrating its founding architect with a six-week-long arts celebration dedicated to Rudolph's work and legacy. Playing the Campus runs from March 21 to April 28 and is free and open to everyone. To kick off the series, sound artist Andy Graydon will stage To Scale (10,000 things for Mark Tobey) in Rudolph's Liberal Arts (LARTS) building, while José Rivera and Michael Rosenstein will close the program with Sonic Section Perspectives (For Paul Rudolph), a sound installation presented by Non-Event that collages field recordings made in and around Rudolph's Boston-area buildings. The piece will be performed in the CVPA building's central atrium. On April 16, an exhibition featuring the architect's campus model and original concept drawings for the LARTS building will debut in A Visionary Campus: Paul Rudolph and UMass Dartmouth. Lectures centered on the campus's Brutalism, as well as a screening of Concretopia, a 2017 film that delves into the campus design, round out the program. More information on Playing the Campus, including the full schedule of events, can be found here.
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Transparent addition puts historic Brutalist library on display.When designLAB architects signed on (with associate architect Austin Architects) to renovate and expand the Claire T. Carney Library at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, they faced a particular challenge: addressing the college's changing educational and sustainability priorities while respecting the legacy of the campus' original architect and planner, Paul Rudolph. "We never intended to try to preserve the building 100 percent," explained designLAB's Ben Youtz. "It was more about understanding Rudolph's goals for the project, then re-presenting them to meet current needs." At the same time, he said, "the reality was we were never going to compete, architecturally, with the form of this building." Instead, the architects conceived of the 27,000-square-foot addition as a vitrine within which to display the master designer's work. The result, a transparent glass box revealed through a curtain of mesh sunshades, pays homage to Rudolph's design without sacrificing either the library's revised programmatic goals or the call for improved environmental performance. Both the renovation and the addition address the changing role of the library on college campuses. "Libraries today are much less about the book, and much more about engaging with your peers, both academically and socially," said Youtz. designLAB moved much of Carney Library's collection from the stack floors to below-grade compact shelving, transforming the reclaimed space into a variety of lounge and group study environments. "It was about creating a more collaborative, public experience," said Youtz. "In that sense, the addition was thought of not just as a new front door to the library, but a new front door to the campus." Located along one of UMass Dartmouth's primary circulatory spines, the transparent addition, which accommodates a browsing area, group study spaces, and a cafe, visually connects the parking areas to the west with the main campus green to the east. Sustainability was a key concern for the clients. "The existing building was a behemoth in terms of its energy consumption," explained Youtz. In renovated portions of the building, designLAB achieved substantial savings through the introduction of insulated glass and thermally broken glazing systems, a super insulated roof, and a high efficiency mechanical system. With respect to the addition, the vitrine metaphor as well as the desire to foster connectivity and collaboration called for a high degree of transparency. "To do that you want to have a lot of glass," said Youtz. "But of course this has challenges in terms of heat gain." The architects chose high performance glass and a thermally broken curtain wall system for the open-plan space, which wraps under and around an existing second-story bridge to the science and engineering building. To further reduce solar gain, they introduced a frit pattern on the west side of the addition as well as glazing on the west and south facades of the original structure. The pattern recalls the weft and weave of fabric, a nod to the college's historic connection to the local textile industry. Stainless steel mesh sunshades provide another layer of protection against the sun. designLAB derived the spacing of the mesh fins on the east and west facades of the addition from the system of CMU elements on the library's third- and fifth-floor cantilevers. The material, in turn, looks to the mesh shades originally installed in the atrium spaces scattered around campus. "Our treatment of the addition was spinning off this mesh idea that Rudolph introduced on the inside—we took it and put it on the outside," explained Youtz. "One of the ideas is that this is a curtain of diaphanous stainless steel mesh wrapping the stage on which Rudolph is presented." The fins, which are deeper, more tightly spaced, and pulled farther from the building on the west side of the addition, produce a play of shadows and light as the day progresses. "When the sun tracks across the elevation, the quality of the shadow is always changing," said Youtz. "It's really quite beautiful." At either end of their metaphorical vitrine, the architects confronted the challenge of engaging with the original concrete structure. "It was a big struggle about how we did that and did it well," recalled Youtz. "We didn't want to introduce more CMU in ways Rudolph didn't use it." They opted instead for a greenish-grey zinc system that complements both the cast-in-place and the CMU elements. "We have these bookends where the vitrine meets either the library or the science building, where zinc is expressed on both the outside and inside," said Youtz. "You get the sense that this is where we're transitioning from the original exterior to a new condition." For Youtz, the opportunity to work on the UMass Dartmouth project was "truly an inspiration. It's phenomenal to think that when Rudolph was visioning this campus, he was building 1.5 million square feet in the middle of the farm fields." But beyond its sheer size, Rudolph's work at the college is remarkable for its focus on the student experience. "One of his major guiding principles was about the collective—so he created all these different spaces where students could share ideas," said Youtz. "That's why we wanted to reinvent the library as a social and intellectual hub at the heart of campus, to make it a space where students want to hang out and work."
Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center moved a tentative step closer to demolition yesterday after a subcommittee of the county legislature approved $14.6 million to finance the design of a new $75 million complex. With the subcommittee vote cleared, a full vote by the legislature is expected on May 3. But committee chair Michael Pilmeier’s vote breaking a four to four split hints that the plan may not have the two-third majority of the legislature needed to proceed. Over the past month preservationists fanned out of over the county. DOCOMOMO New York Tristate held three meetings, Rudolph scholar Timothy Rohan gave a lecture in Newberg this past Sunday, and in Goshen today designLAB will deliver a presentation about a their Rudolph renovation project at UMass Dartmouth. The building hasn’t been lacking for attention from the mainstream press either. After delivering front-page coverage, The New York Times held an online debate under the rather editorial heading “Are Some Buildings Too Ugly to Save?” Not surprisingly, The Times got its most vocal opponent on Brutalism from the masthead of The New Criterion, a conservative monthly arts journal. “Brutalist style — which uses raw concrete or other materials to make art galleries look like fallout shelters,” wrote Criterion contributor Anthony M. Daniels. Key to the tight vote was republican Al Buckbee crossing party lines to vote against the proposal. And there’s the rub. As ArtsJournal.com’s Lee Rosenbaum pointed out after the Times article, the Orange County debate essentially pits Democrats against Republicans, though Republicans took pains to distance themselves from the role of aesthetic conservatives. “I would never ask to take a building down because of what it looks like,” county executive director Eddie Diana told AN back in March. Diana attempted to couch his decision to destroy the Brutalist masterwork in conservative financial terms only after his initial $136 million proposal was rejected by the Legislature. The new plan costs $75 million. Meanwhile, estimates for renovating the Rudolph building continued to climb, with one estimate reaching $77 million. Plans for the new county building call for a 175,000 square foot facility. In a letter to Diana, designLAB’s Robert Miklos noted that the Dartmouth building added 22,000 square feet to an 155,000 existing square foot building, making a total of 177,000 square feet, but at a cost of $35 million. Times-Herald reported that number is probably closer to $43 million after design fees and furnishings are factored in—but the number is still less than the Diana proposal. Plenty question the proposal’s financing, with scrutiny centered on bond arrangements and whether a new building qualifies for financing from FEMA (the building sustained damage in Tropical Storm Irene). Yesterday, before voting against the proposal in the committee, legislator Myrna Kemnitz told AN, “You can’t use FEMA monies to build new.” Kemenitz, a consistent critic of the project, said that aesthetic arguments aside, the finances just don't add up. “The entire project was put out there by politicians who are willing to go on the premise that people will never check.”