Posts tagged with "Paul Rudolph":

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American arts and architecture commissioner Anne Bass dies at 78

On April 1, Anne Bass, influential investor and patron of the arts, died at the age of 78. Bass famously commissioned the Bass House, one of the most ambitious residential designs by the modernist architect Paul Rudolph, completed in Fort Worth in 1976. According to Paper City Magazine, Anne and her husband Sid Bass commissioned Rudolph to design with little constraints other than its need to house a complex spatial program with a contemporary-art gallery for the couple’s extensive art collection. Aerial drawings of the house suggest its layout and dynamic cantilevers were inspired by Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s landmark residence constructed four decades prior. Like other projects within Rudolph’s body of work, the home is divided into a dizzying 12 levels with 14 distinct ceiling heights, one of which defines the home’s entrance beneath a 40-foot-long cantilever. “The ideal of weight and counterweight, similar to the movement of the human body, became the genesis of the house,” Rudolph reportedly said of the design. Anne became a well-known figure in landscape architecture circles as well after commissioning Russell Page, the British gardener famously responsible for the landscaping of the Frick Museum, to design the sprawling grounds of the home. The Basses moved into a Rosario Candela-designed apartment building in New York City in the 1980s, where the haute couture Anne commissioned from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, and Karl Lagerfeld is a part of the Metropolitan Museum collection. Rather than updating the apartment with modernist aesthetics as she had requested from Rudolph a decade prior, Bass called on legendary interior designer Mark Hampton to subtly update its 1920s detailing. “The vocabulary is traditional,” Anne explained, according to Vogue, “and it would have been a sin to remove it and make it totally modern.” Splitting her time between New York City and Fort Worth, Texas, Bass became publicly known as a philanthropist and champion of arts institutions including the New York City Ballet, the New York Public Library, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
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Massachusetts considers partial- to-full removal of Paul Rudolph’s Hurley Building

The future of the Paul Rudolph-designed Boston Government Service Center (BGSC) rests in the hands of the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Last October, the state announced the redevelopment of the Charles F. Hurley Building and this week, a new report was sent to the commission detailing four options for the Brutalist structure in downtown Boston that include partial or full demolition. Produced under the auspices of the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, the document is the result of deep dive by engineers and architects into the Hurley Building and its notoriously challenging interior layout. The first option explores removing a small part of the 237,000-square-foot structure to make way for a new, high-rise construction. A pedestrian-level walkway would splice throughout the site in an effort to open up the complex to the street. Each of the other options considers demolishing half, two-thirds, and eventually the entire building for the contemporary tower, respectively, with added urban design elements thrown into the mix.  In the coming months, the Massachusetts Historical Commission will either green light or scrap these options. If one or several are seriously considered, it could help bidding developers make more informed decisions about their individual plans for the 3.25-acre site. AN previously reported that solicitations for a development partner are expected to be issued by mid-2020 and that construction slated to begin within three years. The state is also making moves to relocate the various agencies and 675 government employees within the Hurley Building ahead of future work. Part of the allure for preservationists lies in the fact that it’s a Paul Rudolph design. Located just yards away from the 50-year-old Boston City Hall designed by Kallmann McKinnell & Knowles—which is currently undergoing a five-year-renovation, the Hurley Building and the rest of the complex further connect locals to Rudolph’s legacy of Brutalism in the city. One group, the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, believes the report didn’t fully acknowledge the fact that Rudolph designed the building from 1962 to 1966, which could hurt its case in the eyes of the historical commission. “They fully note the importance of his design guidelines for the project, and his direct work on the other [Lindemann] building—but are weaker on acknowledging the intensity of his influence on the design of the Hurley Building,” the foundation stated in a press release on its website.  This debate has been going on for quite some time and it’s unclear just how serious the state will take preservation. What is clear is that Massachusetts’ Governor Charlie Baker prefers to completely redevelop the site with little focus on adaptive reuse. 
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Full-scale replica of Paul Rudolph's Walker Guest House will be auctioned off

A replica of the Walker Guest House, the first structure independently designed by the late architect Paul Rudolph, will be sold through Heritage Auctions’ February Design auction on February 25. Commissioned by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF), the 576-square-foot replica home was built in 2015 using Rudolph’s original plans for public tours on the grounds of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. “The SAF, whose mission is to educate about, advocate for and celebrate Sarasota’s mid-century modern heritage," said SAF chairman Dr. Christopher Wilson, in a press release, "undertook this project as an educational initiative. Recognizing that a majority of Sarasota School structures are private residences not normally accessible to the public, the SAF wanted to expose the forward-thinking principles of the ‘Sarasota School’ to a wider audience by constructing and exhibiting this replica.” The replica left the museum grounds in 2017 and was reinstalled in Palm Springs, California in 2018 as a feature of Modernism Week, the biannual festival that takes place in the city to celebrate the city's collection of midcentury modern architecture. Originally built in 1952 in the beach town of Sanibel, Florida, the 24-by-24-foot home is notable for the movable flaps along its exterior that can be manually raised or lowered for privacy and shading. Shortly after it was built, the home was revered as an exemplary model of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement, a regional style that advocated for open-plan structures and passive heating and cooling. Additionally, the building is a rare example of a home from the era designed to be collapsible for ease of transportation. The buyer of the replica home will also receive several furnishings designed by Rudolph, including a living room table, bookshelf/divider, and daybed. The bidding will begin at $10,000, the reported budget for the home when it was first built. However, don't get too attached to the location; as the auction notes, the home's new owner must disassemble and move the building by March 24, 2020.
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Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments are finally coming down in Buffalo

Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist Shoreline Apartments are finally under demolition in downtown Buffalo, New York after a three-year delay. A 2018 lawsuit filed in part by a resident had previously halted developer-owner Norstar Development from moving forward with razing the 9.5-acre site to make way for new affordable housing.  Built in 1974, the 142-unit complex rose at a time when Rudolph was experimenting with various Brutalist-style designs for the Western New York city, including the still-standing Niagara Falls Public Library. For Shoreline, the New York State Urban Development Corporation (UDC) brought him in to create a large-scale urban renewal project with a school, community center, and ample green space scattered throughout the site. Rudolph’s ambitious plan—which was never fully realized because the UDC ran out of money—was on view in a 1970 exhibition called Works in Progress at the Museum of Modern Art.  After just a few decades of use, the low-rise, ribbed concrete buildings, with their shed-style roofs and projecting balconies (reminiscent of Moshe Safdie’s Habitat 67), fell into disrepair as vacancies rose. The surrounding landscape, including the individual enclosed garden courts, were forgotten as people flocked further into Buffalo’s suburbs and away from high-density neighborhoods like Shoreline. Locals have been calling for the buildings’ demolition since the early 2000s, and the city worked up a deal with Norstar to configure an 18-building scheme in its place.  One round of demolitions occurred in 2015 after preservation groups failed to get the complex landmarked. A CityLab article from that same year profiled the remaining Shoreline resident, John Schmidt, who filed the lawsuit to stop Norstar’s plan. He noted that he loved living there, but he recognized how badly the building needed attention. Due to eventual poor management, he said, and a general distaste for Brutalist architecture at the start of the millennia, the legacy of Shoreline waned like many similar low-income housing projects from that era.  Schmidt was evicted in January of 2018. Norstar has already completed construction on 48 new units on-site—replacing the first section of buildings that were demolished—but says it will take up to two years to build the entire complex.
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Massachusetts puts the Paul Rudolph-designed Hurley Building on the market

A piece of Boston’s brutalist Government Center has reached the end of the road. The Charles F. Hurley Building, designed between 1962 and 1966 by Paul Rudolph, has been placed on the market by the State of Massachusetts. Citing the building’s challenging layout—the top floor lacks windows on three sides, for starters, according to the Boston Globe’s report—as well as an outdated surrounding urban landscape, Governor Charlie Baker’s office plans to offer up the site for total redevelopment rather than adaptive reuse. The Hurley Building occupies a 3.25-acre site in downtown Boston, near North Station and the MBTA transit lines, and the move to open the site for development is expected to rake in tens of millions of dollars for the state. In pursuing a public-private partnership, the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance plans to solicit an official redevelopment partner by mid-2020. The complex will accommodate new uses while retaining office space for some of the several state agencies currently housed in the building. Approximately 675 government employees work in the Hurley Building at the time of writing. News of the redevelopment quickly sparked a movement to save the building, which some consider among Boston’s brutalist treasures. The nearby Boston City Hall, built in 1968, has long been an icon of brutalism, even if it achieved that status through sheer controversy. Many architecture aficionados and critics have praised the Hurley Building's unabashed modernism, while a number of locals consider it nothing more than an eyesore. The Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation published a blog post titled “S.O.S: - Save Rudolph’s Boston Government Center,” describing the Hurley Building as “one of Rudolph’s most interesting commissions, and a serious work of urban design.” In a call to action, the blog post encourages readers to leave comments on the Boston Globe article voicing their concerns with the project. Construction on the site is expected to begin within the next few years once the property finds a buyer. For now, the state is formulating plans to relocate its agencies to alternative sites.
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Want to own a house designed by a renowned architect? Here are seven options currently on the market

While summer may be drawing to a close, daydreaming about beautiful houses has no season. For those who are particularly discriminating about architecture, and who happen to be in the market for a multi-million-dollar listing, there are plenty of options to run through. AN has rounded up seven houses designed by nationally and internationally renowned architects that are for sale right now. Do some window shopping below:

Marcel Breuer’s Gargarin House I Litchfield, CT

Between 1956 and 1957, the celebrated Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer, whose masterpieces include New York’s Met Breuer museum (formerly the Whitney), designed a stunning home for Andrew and Jamie Gargarin in Litchfield, Connecticut. Sitting on 1.7 acres of gently sloping land, the low-slung house was constructed with steel, reinforced concrete, stone, and glass. Its styling is decidedly modern both inside and out, with materials and vistas that are sure to please any buyer with money to spare.

Perhaps the most unique feature in the Gargarin House I is the bush-hammered concrete fireplace. Its irregular form rises in the middle of the glass-walled living room, providing the home with one of its only architectural elements that is not strictly rectilinear. The fireplace and the storied house it occupies can be yours for $3.8 million.

Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s Durham dream house Durham, NC

As the only house on this list priced under one million dollars (and still by only $50,000), Arthur Cogswell, Jr.’s midcentury modern design in Durham, North Carolina offers a comparatively affordable option for those looking to own property crafted by a notable architect. Cogswell is best known as a residential architect with modernist proclivities. Most of his projects have been completed for private clients in North Carolina.

This particular home is 3,259 square feet with four bedrooms and three full bathrooms. Because it has only had one owner since its initial construction, the house is remarkably well preserved. Images show that many of the rooms have maintained their original wood cabinetry, while the back deck is still covered by a geometric pergola. The room that has changed most significantly is the kitchen, which underwent a complete renovation to meet twenty-first-century standards of living. Built in 1966, the home sits on 2.33 acres and is listed for $950,000.

Steven Holl-designed Catskills getaway Middleburgh, NY

Nestled in a heavily wooded area in New York’s Catskills region, Steven Holl’s bright red “Y House” has hit the market for $1.6 million. The two main sections of the house (there is also a detached garage and a boathouse) branch off from one another to form the shape of the letter “Y”. They both terminate in outdoor spaces—balconies on the second floor and small patios on the ground floor. The roofline of the structure slopes upward toward this point, creating a volume that appears to open up to the mountain views.

Constructed in 1999, the house takes full advantage of its surroundings. From the interior, irregularly shaped windows frame the landscape in unexpected ways, while communal spaces benefit from larger, floor-to-ceiling glass. The 33-acre site also has a minimalist, glass-walled boathouse perched at the edge of a serene pond.

Richard Neutra’s midcentury masterpiece Weston, CT

In the quiet town of Weston, Connecticut, Betty Corwin is selling a house designed for her and her husband by Richard Neutra in 1955. Situated on a 4.3-acre lot above the Saugatuck River, the five-bedroom Corwin House is surrounded by mature trees and lush landscaping. With many of its original finishes still intact, including the yellow kitchen cabinetry and plenty of built-ins, the home is a particularly well-preserved example of midcentury modern residential architecture. Corwin, now in her 90’s, has made only a few changes to the kitchen appliances and bathrooms.

Perhaps best known for his extensive portfolio of house projects in California, Neutra built a number of modern residential structures throughout the mid-twentieth century. Listed at $2.7 million, the Corwin House is one of the architect’s two remaining homes in the state of Connecticut, presenting East Coast buyers with a rare chance to purchase a piece of his legacy.

Wine country stunner by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners Santa Ynez, CA

Designed by Michael Palladino of Richard Meier Partners, this six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house sits in the Santa Ynez Valley northwest of Santa Barbara, California. Buyers of Son Sereno will have no shortage of space, inside or out. The home itself boasts 8,000 square feet of living space, while the 116-acre lot includes an olive grove and several riding trails. The scenery surrounding the contemporary structure is characteristic of this region of California—mature oak and sycamore trees dot a landscape of rolling green hills and vineyards.

Built in 2005, the building uses a combination of stucco and stone walls to support a high, curvilinear ceiling over the main living space. There is a wealth of amenities, including an attached three-car garage, two fireplaces, and panoramic views of the valley. The asking price is currently set at $7,900,000.

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence Ponte Vedra Beach, FL

As AN reported earlier this summer, Paul Rudolph’s beachside Milam Residence outside Jacksonville, Florida hit the market for $4,445,000. With a distinctive geometric facade that lends visual depth to the building, the Milam Residence presents potential buyers with the opportunity to own something that stands out in the coastal neighborhood, where most residential architecture prescribes to a more Mediterranean aesthetic. With 6,800 square feet of living space spread between the main building and a separate guest house, there is no shortage of space, either.

While Rudolph is better known for his institutional projects, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall, the Milam House is still a piece of history. Built in 1961 for the attorney Arthur Milam, the residence is being sold by the family of the original owners.

Rafael Viñoly-designed head-turner Ridgefield, CT

Rafael Viñoly’s most famous residential project may be his gleaming tower at 432 Park Avenue in New York City, but for those who prefer a more tranquil setting, a house he designed in Ridgefield, Connecticut is now on the market. Built in 1990 for Alice Lawrence, whose late husband Sylvan Lawrence was a real estate mogul in Manhattan, the house is a dramatic contemporary design composed primarily of concrete and glass. Designed for Mrs. Lawrence’s extensive art collection, the house comprises one part of a listing that includes a farmhouse next door and a total of 16 acres of land.

With three bedrooms, four bathrooms, and both indoor and outdoor pool options, the Lawrence House offers a taste of luxury to anyone who can afford its $9.8 million price tag.

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Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence splashes onto the market

Paul Rudolph’s Milam Residence, located in Ponte Vedra Beach outside of Jacksonville, Florida, has hit the market for $4,445,000, according to the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation. Built from 1959 to 1961 and situated on just over two acres of land, the property boasts 6,800 square feet of living space, a swimming pool, and a guest house separated by a central courtyard. Between the two residences, there are five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and two half-bathrooms. Other amenities include central air-conditioning and an in-ground sprinkler system.

Perhaps the Milam Residence’s most distinctive feature is its eastern frontage, which faces the Atlantic Ocean. A series of rectangular concrete block extrusions extend outward from the houses’s windows, adding a 3D depth effect to the facade and distinguishing the building from its neighbors. The hard edges of the structure contrast markedly with the softness of the surrounding beach, helping the house stand out as a local landmark.

As Rudolph’s only building in northeastern Florida, the home has remained in the hands of the Milam family since attorney Arthur Milam originally commissioned the project in the late 1950s. At the time, Rudolph was still in the incipient stages of a career that would be defined by some of the most renowned concrete and modernist designs in the country, including the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall in 1963. In a move that reflects both the architect’s renown and growing interest in the preservation of modernist buildings as unique cultural artifacts, the Milam Residence was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. With an eye toward the future of the property, the Milam family is searching for a buyer who understands the home’s architectural significance and recognizes this as an opportunity not just to live by the sea, but to own a piece of history that needs to be properly cared for.

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Sportswear brand J. McLaughlin highlights Sarasota Modernism in its spring catalog

The Modernist heritage of Sarasota, Florida, is the star of J. McLaughlin's recently-released 2019 spring catalog, thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF).

Sporty spring sweaters, floral prints, nautical belt buckles, and more are juxtaposed against homes designed by Ralph Twitchell, a founding member of the Sarasota School of Architecture, and Paul Rudolph. The 1953 Paul Rudolph-designed Umbrella House, a blocky building shaded by a perforated canopy, and the swooping Cocoon House, a collaboration between Twitchell and Rudolph from 1950 with a unique U-shaped roof, features alongside other local landmarks.

Both buildings are important landmarks for the Sarasota School, which sought to blend Modernism with breezy beach vibes (and were appropriate for the temperate, humid climate). The Sarasota Architectural Foundation has been educating visitors on both during their annual Sarasota Modernism Weekend, which the group has run since 2013.

The J. McLaughlin–Sarasota confluence seemed like a natural one to the clothing brand’s co-founder and creative director Kevin McLaughlin. The company already has two stores in the area, one in Sarasota and one in Longboat Key, and McLaughlin is a frequent visitor to the small city. Additionally, local Sarasota artist John Pirman had previously been tapped to design prints for the brand.

"We're honored to have collaborated with J. McLaughlin to produce the new spring catalog," wrote SAF board chair Christopher Wilson. "By creating vital awareness of SAF, this fine American brand is helping further our mission to protect and preserve these iconic examples of the Sarasota School of Architecture."

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Paul Rudolph's Walker Guest House is on sale

Paul Rudolph’s famous Walker Guest House in southern Florida is now on the market. The glass-clad, International-style structure is situated on a 1.6-acre lot on Sanibel Island facing the Gulf of Mexico. Completed in 1952, the building was Rudolph’s first solo project after splitting from his early-career design partner Ralph Twitchell. Ruldoph designed the accessory dwelling unit at a time when Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in Illinois, as well as Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut, were receiving widespread acclaim. Both near-transparent residential projects, the low-to-the-ground, boxy buildings were masterful representations of mid-century modernist architecture, but the homeowners complained about a lack of privacy due to the floor-to-ceiling windows. Rudolph’s steel-framed structure, a beachfront backhouse, took this highly-lauded, light-filled design a step further and fixed the privacy problem. He added adjustable wood panels to several exterior walls that could shield residents from the harsh sun or outside activity when desired. Though a seemingly simple addition, these shades allowed the building to transform seamlessly from an open, 24-foot square pavilion to a cozy seaside cottage. The engineering behind this shutter system is quite unique. The house stands on an array of steel stilts that anchor it to the ground and serve as additional frames for the building. These frames connect weighted red cannonballs to the wooden shutters that enclose the structure; the home is famously nicknamed the "Cannonball House." When raised, the ball shuts the shutter flaps and when lowered, it creates a canopy for outdoor shade. The Walker Guest House is valued at $6,795,000, which includes the main residence on site.  It was designed on an 8-foot-by-8-foot cubic module and includes a living and dining area, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a bedroom.
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Sarasota Modern: Paul Rudolph and beyond

Modernism celebrations and conferences are becoming more numerous. After such an event gains a certain amount of local awareness, the challenge for organizers is to make it continue to appeal to a range of interested parties, from docents in Pucci dresses to scholars in button-down shirts. How do you avoid devolving into a love of style over substance? How do you keep bringing back the style groupies, the design professionals, and the scholars? SarasotaMOD Weekend, an annual midcentury modern architecture festival in Sarasota, Florida, just held its fifth program this November and made a convincing case that it is taking the challenge seriously. Presented by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, SarasotaMOD has twice centered the festival around Paul Rudolph, commonly referred to as the father of the Sarasota School of Architecture. In recent years, the festival has had programs on other architects who followed in his wake, including Victor Lundy and Tim Seibert. Given that 2018 is Rudolph’s centenary, it made sense to celebrate the legend once more. This year, high-priced trolley tours of Rudolph’s built legacy sold out. They offered opportunities to see some buildings that are rarely open to the public. But it was the thoughtful morning presentations, entitled "Paul Rudolph Legacy Morning," that suggested a way forward for this and other modernism conferences, like those in Palm Springs, Tucson, and Columbus, Indiana. These morning presentations included a documentary from 1983, entitled Spaces: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph, which offered rare footage of Rudolph being interviewed and throwing a fit over the shape of the altar design at Emory University’s Cannon Chapel. Made before Rudolph fell out of national favor, the film gave everybody the same starting place for understanding Rudolph. This was an excellent segue to "Reassessing Rudolph," a panel discussion. Rudolph scholar Timothy Rohan, the moderator, asked the panelists—architect Joseph King, coauthor of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses, and Rudolph scholars Brian Goldstein and Ken Oshima—about Rudolph and his place in modernist history. In his comments, King pointed out that at first glance, many Rudolph buildings suggested a singular idea, but once you enter the buildings, the variety of interlocking spaces reveals itself. Rohan described Rudolph’s innovative use of perspective sections and how these and other dramatic drawings made Rudolph’s reputation. Interestingly, other architects who veered from strict corporate modernism, folks like Saarinen, Stone, and Kahn, were not postmodernists per se, but were the harbingers of change. While Rudolph’s high-rises in Asia were not pure modernist, neither were they historicist. Rudolph’s reputation suffered after the 1969 fire at the Yale Art and Architecture building, but he persevered. And his legacy continues to be debated. Unlike other architects associated with modernism or Brutalism, he did not champion an orthodoxy. He relied on intuition and emotion. In that way, he reminds me of Bruce Goff without the whimsy. One important point raised during the conversation was that Rudolph was an example of the failure of joining modernism and urbanism. He is in good company there. The big draw for the morning was Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture writer Paul Goldberger. Goldberger gave a lively lecture that would appeal to the Rudolph novice or scholar. He fills the bill for this kind of meeting. He has enough depth on the subject to bring together unlikely strands, but he can relate those strands back to popular culture. For example, he talked about Rudolph’s ability to combine high and low culture, especially in his interiors projects. Early in his presentation, Goldberger said that Rudolph was “a difficult architect…not easy to like.” This notion contrasts with the sweet and often modest early houses he designed around Sarasota. Both the scholarly panel and Goldberger were able to link the early work to the larger and less sweet later work. In the Burkhardt House of 1957, many of the conference attendees were able to see up close the complexity and intriguing circulation that Rudolph was playing with in his early work. At a cocktail reception and subsequent tour, the Burkhardt House’s current owners told stories about meeting Rudolph after they bought it. He was relieved that they were removing an unsympathetic kidney-shaped pool that an earlier owner had added. However, Rudolph was not pleased that the owners were installing a rectangular pool more in keeping with his architecture. Apparently he suggested they just use the local YMCA instead. The current owners were clear about who owns the house, often a struggle with a unique architectural talent like Rudolph. At the end of the question and answer session, Goldberger responded to a question about what to look for on the tours by suggesting that people look at the beauty of the architecture and the banality of the strip we would all travel to get there. This is an issue that is especially relevant because of Rudolph’s deep interest in and failure with urbanism. The festival’s program cover features an illustration of the Cocoon House drawn by local graphic artist John Pirman. Rudolph’s modest rectangles on or near the water lend themselves to beautiful renderings and postcards. These houses are easy to love, especially in Ezra Stoller’s beautiful photos and Pirman’s other recent prints, but what about the urbanistic implications of his larger buildings, often made with ribbed concrete, or of his tree-like towers in Asia? The success of the conference was that these kinds of questions were raised, if not wholly answered. Next year’s focus for SarasotaMOD has not been decided. Christopher S. Wilson, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation’s chairman of the board and a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design, suggested it may focus on Carl Abbott, a living architect of the Sarasota School. If the festival can keep the balance of informed lectures, lively discussions, and tours, it will be worth returning to learn more about this slice of Florida.
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At Sarasota Modernism Weekend Paul Rudolph dazzles—for a price

Sharp winter sunlight pours over the Umbrella House on Lido Key in Florida as a group of modern architecture enthusiasts begin their morning yoga class with a sun salutation. Shadow and light battle beneath the 3,000 square-foot wooden canopy of the house, casting a latticed reflection on the pool below. Built in 1953 by the modern architect Paul Rudolph while living and working in Sarasota, the Umbrella House would become a centerpiece of the Sarasota School of Architecture: a localized architectural movement that brought the aesthetic of midcentury modernism to the beach—and keeps the tourists coming every year for a Palm Springs–inspired Modernism Weekend. Sarasota today is a characteristic American town of some 50,000 year-round residents. Concentrated around a polished 9.5-square-mile built-up downtown area, it unfurls outward into an eclectic 25-square-mile collage of gated communities, strip malls, white sand beaches, marshy swampland, and rustic cow pastures. Unlike the Sarasota of Rudolph’s time, there is ample air conditioning (some would argue too much), a plethora of open-air campuses, and a constantly expanding cluster of high-rise condos dotting the shores of downtown and Siesta Key: the once-barren strip of fine quartz sand beach where Rudolph built several of his chic micro-cabin guest houses in the 1950s. Also unique to the present is a clear, defined interest in Sarasota’s modern architectural heritage. The Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF) was founded in 2002 to bring local and international awareness to the rich legacy of Sarasota Modern. Every November since 2013, a couple hundred tropical modernism buffs make a beeline for the Sunshine State or stir from their Sarasota siestas to attend Sarasota MOD. This year’s MOD Weekend marks Paul Rudolph’s centennial, for which SAF tapped Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger to deliver a keynote presentation on Rudolph, prefaced by a screening of Bob Eisenhardt’s short film Spaces: The Architecture of Paul Rudolph, and a panel discussion titled “Reassessing Rudolph” featuring Rudolph experts and academics Brian Goldstein, Eric Paul Mumford, Ken Tadashi, and moderated by local architect Timothy M. Rohan. As Goldberger emphasized in his keynote lecture, the '50s architecture culture in Sarasota was a “rare moment with an extraordinary meeting of minds”—minds that, conveniently enough, came to town with a lot of money. For Rudolph, fresh out of Harvard's GSD following a two-year intermission in the navy, this meant the opportunity for hands-on building experience in his 30s, when he designed several guest houses that helped anchor the Sarasota Modern style, including the iconic curving Cocoon House and yoga-friendly Umbrella House. He even pioneered a new building typology, the lamolithic house. Made from poured concrete slab walls and a steel-reinforced roof, key features of the lamolithic house were untempered (and certainly not hurricane-proof) glass windows, a roof encased in four to six inches of crushed coral that provided waterproof insulation, and a passive cooling sprinkling system on the roof. The open plan was designed to capture the cross-winds pouring in from the Gulf. Rudolph built four out of the five lamolithic houses he had planned on Siesta Key. At their public debut, over 100 visitors came and demanded he begin building identical structures for them. Following the success of these homes, Lamolithic Industries, Rudolph’s partner in the project, pioneered a prototype of a two-bedroom home costing $8,900 that never fully materialized. While touring the lamolithic and guest houses on a three-hour trolley bus tour of Paul Rudolph’s projects on Siesta Key, it became evident that this model was meant as a base that owners could pimp out at their discretion. Swanky circular pools and exotic cactus gardens materialize underneath the lanai: Florida’s unique netted cage of a semi-enclosed garden. The contemporary extensions hit an all-time absurd in Revere Quality House (c. 1948), whose owners added a three-story modernist mansion onto the humble dwelling in 2007, courtesy local architect Guy Peterson. Sarasota has always been one of the wealthiest counties in the Sunshine State; current residents of Siesta Key, one of the most expensive areas of the city and where many of Rudolph’s commissions were realized, earn an average income of $62,000 per resident (more than twice the national average). Rewind back to Rudolph’s stint in Sarasota and the story is much the same. The influx of new residents in postwar Florida melded with a burgeoning middle class that had money to burn, plus opportunistic property developers eager to turn Sarasota into a destination point, all while reaping the state’s status as a tax haven on investment properties. This placed a large demand for infrastructure and culture to fill up this sleepy town on the Gulf of Mexico—and fast. Key businessmen-cum-patrons like Lido Shores–developer Philip Hiss were instrumental in giving the cluster of Sarasota-based architects who would later be known as the Sarasota School their first shot at building. For Rudolph in particular, this was a total boon and laid the foundation for the future of his career. But for today’s architectural enthusiasts without such deep pockets (including students) this creates an area of friction in the SarasotaMOD festivities. For cultural interest events such as these, this translates into $250 dinners, $150 trolley tours, and $30 yoga classes—or a $6,000 overnight stay in Rudolph’s Umbrella House, if you’re feeling inclined—and precludes access to the Sarasota School from a much larger, and probably much younger, audience. It is true that when most people think of Paul Rudolph, they tend to think about the radiant play of light within his Interdenominational Chapel (1969) at Emory University, the menacing melancholia of the Art & Architecture building at Yale (its ugliness, it is said, led to the arson of 1969), or that overwhelming behemoth of Temple Street Parking Garage (1963), its shadowy mass swallowing up 6 blocks nearby in New Haven—and not so much his quaint beach houses dotting Siesta Key. But it is also true that Sarasota gave Rudolph the jump-start that electrified his tumultuous career. Where patrons and projects abound, the little town on the Gulf allowed Rudolph to become a principal at Ralph Twitchell’s firm in under four years (the same firm he interned at before Harvard). It enabled him to become an independent architect, ditching Twitchell in 1958 to build two major high schools in Sarasota where he grew into his own style. Sarasota was the springboard that catapulted Rudolph into the Chair of Yale University’s Department of Architecture in 1960, where he would experience another pivotal moment of divinity and fall from grace in the now-infamous Brutalist masterpiece of the Art & Architecture Building at Yale. Although Rudolph was later condemned by critics who predicted his conservative style would be left in the dust by slick and jazzy postmodernism, he always responded best when placed in the pressure cooker. Which is why what happened nearly seventy years ago in this sleepy Floridian town feels like such a special occurrence and the ultra-steep price tag of its discovery such a shame.
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Isn't Brutalist architecture worthy of preservation?

On April 12, Boston’s Pinkcomma Gallery is opening its Brutal Destruction exhibition. In the context of contemporary demolitions of Brutalist buildings and complexes, such as Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments and Orange County Government Center, Brutal Destruction joins the growing reappraisal of maligned Brutalism as architecture worthy of historic preservation. Curated by Chris Grimley, of the Boston-based interdisciplinary practice over,under, Brutal Destruction is a collection of photographs of concrete architecture undergoing the process of demolition. By examining the widespread dismantling of Brutalist structure, the exhibit seeks to stir up debate regarding their disfigurement and society’s seeming incapacity to repurpose these half-century old architectural works. Grimley frames Brutalism within the larger narrative of the architectural conservation movement. Similar to Brutalism, historicist and classical styles such as the Victorian or Second Empire faced similar rhetorical and public attacks and were cast as outmoded and outdated forms. Grimley suggests that just as we regret the mass demolition of historic buildings in the mid-twentieth century, we should pause to properly assess America's concrete heritage before wiping it out entirely. The exhibition is part of the ongoing Heroic Project, a book and advocacy web archive cataloging Boston’s substantial Brutalist legacy.