The style of architecture known as "mid-century modern" is a cousin to the "International style." A popular combination of European stylistic tendencies and domestic American influences, including furniture design, it has become an influential catch all term for distinguished post-World War II structures and commercial tract homes (like the Eichler Homes). While the style has become widely popular in lifestyle magazines like Dwell and even replicated in new suburban developments, the original homes are being regularly torn down and being replaced with bloated McMansions that have shoe closets the size of the former mid-century living rooms. But the style has a huge following and a number of organizations to highlight and preserve is monuments. Docomomo has been in the lead highlighting these structures and Palm Springs was one of the first city to host a "modernism week." The latest city to create a week of activities devoted to the style is Sarasota, Florida, which along with Palm Springs and New Canaan, Connecticut, were experimental centers of the style. The Florida city also had a gifted number of architects working in the style: Paul Rudolph and his early mentor Ralph Twitchell, Gene Leedy, Victor Lundy, Tim Seibert, and Carl Abbott. The four day event of lectures, city and house tours that took place this fall was a model of how a community can highlight its unique but disappearing history. The week was created the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (founded by Martie Lieberman, a realtor who specializes in the style of homes) which is trying to promote the city's modern architecture. It hopes to raise awareness of the style so its buildings can be preserved, updated, and even become a model of a future architecture that is more responsive to needs and demands than the typical McMansion. Sarasota prides itself on its modern history and was a unique crossroads of culture, commerce, and environment after World War II that helped birth this style. The week also highlighted the fascinating figure of Philip Hiss III who moved to the beach community in 1948 and became a major figure in the community. He was chair of its education department (which commissioned Paul Rudolph to design two high schools) and a developer of the modernist community Lido Shores. The Foundation is hoping to make their week an annual affair and the area has the modern assets to make it work.
Posts tagged with "Paul Rudolph":
Today, AN reported on Detroit's lone house designed by architect Paul Rudolph called the Parcells House. According to our article, "The waterfront home faces Lake Saint Clair and was designed to give waterfront views to almost every room. As the home sits on a lot at the end of a cul-de-sac where heavy plantings and trees cover the driveway and maintain privacy, it is, for the most part, only viewable by boat." Check out a slideshow of the inside and outside of the house below and be sure to learn more about the property, currently on the market, over here.
In 1948, Paul Rudolph was residing at the American Academy in Rome. He had traveled there to study classical architecture, but was instead spending his days designing modern houses for Sarasota, Florida. In fact, Sarasota, according to Timothy Rohan who has recently published a monograph on Rudolph, made a huge impression on the architect and defined his work for the rest of his career. He had moved there to apprentice and work for the local architect Ralph Twitchell, who in the 1940s helped create a style of modern house that eventually became known as the Sarasota school. The sleepy seaside village had become like Palm Springs, California and New Canaan, Connecticut—a laboratory of modernism—because, as Rohan explains, its "cultured winter time residents were open to architectural experimentation in their second homes." From October 9–12, 2014, the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, will be staging “SarasotaMOD Week[end],” a four-day celebration of the region’s iconic mid-20th-century architecture, particularly its oceanside houses and famous public schools. Leading architects, designers, historians, and authors like Carl Abbott, John Howey, Joe King (co-author of Paul Rudolph: The Florida Houses), Lawrence Scarpa, Tim Seibert, landscape architect Raymond Jungles, and author, critic, and filmmaker Alastair Gordon will explore the ongoing impact of this movement through presentations, panel discussions and tours. For more information and to register for the weekend, click here.
2013 has proven to be a difficult year for post-war concrete architecture. While some iconic structures have managed to emerge from the maelstrom of demolition attempts unharmed, including M. Paul Friedberg’s Peavy Plaza in Minneapolis and (tentatively) the Paul Rudolph–designed Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York (the fate of which still remains uncertain), others have been less lucky. John Johansen’s daring Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City, Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama and, more recently, Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital in Chicago have all been doomed to the wrecking ball. Despite architectural historian Michael R. Allen's claim that the demolition of the Prentice’ Woman’s Hospital would be Modernism’s “Penn Station Moment,” the trend still pushes on. The next in line to fight for its survival is a set of Paul Rudolph buildings in Buffalo, New York. Tomorrow, November 6, at 8:15 a.m., the Buffalo City Planning Board will convene to decide the fate of five buildings included in Rudolph’s 9.5-acre Shoreline Apartment complex. Completed in 1972, the 142-unit low-income housing development was featured in both the September 1972 issue of Architectural Record as well as the 1970 exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Like many of their contemporaries, the inventive, complex forms and admirable social aspirations of the development have been overshadowed by disrepair, crime, and startling vacancy rates (30 percent in 2006 according to Buffalo Rising). Now, Norstar Development USA, who have owned the property since 2006, are moving forward with their plans to replace five of Rudolph’s complex, brutalist townhouses with eight new buildings containing 48 new housing units. "With few exceptions, Paul Rudolph's buildings can be recognized by their complexity, their sculptural details, their effects of scale and their texture,” wrote Arthur Drexler, the longstanding Director of MoMA’s Architecture and Design Department, in 1970. Drexler exhibited Rudolph’s original, much more dramatic scheme for Buffalo’s Shoreline Apartments alongside pending projects by Philip Johnson and Kevin Roche in an exhibition entitled Work in Progress. The projects on display were compiled to represent a commitment “to the idea that architecture, besides being technology, sociology and moral philosophy, must finally produce works of art.” Rudolph’s original scheme, composed of monumental, terraced, prefabricated housing structures, provided an ambitious alternative to high-rise dwelling that was meant to recall the complexity and intimacy of old European settlements. Drexler wrote in the exhibition brief that, despite the project’s massive scale, it was “designed to suggest human use, affording both inhabitants and passersby a kaleidoscopic variety." The Shoreline Apartments that stand today represent a scaled down version of the original plan. Featuring shed roofs, ribbed concrete exteriors, projecting balconies and enclosed gardens, the project combined Rudolph’s spatial radicalism with experiments in human-scaled, low-rise, high-density housing developments. The project's weaving, snake-like site plan was meant to create active communal green spaces, but, like those of most if its contemporaries, the spaces went unused, fracturing the fabric of Buffalo. Since 2006, Norstar Development has reportedly spent $19 million sprucing up the complex, adding new facades, windows, and railings to some of the buildings, and combining smaller apartments to make larger family units. The next step of their redevelopment includes the demolition of five currently-vacant Rudolph buildings. This is only “Phase 1” of Norstar’s operation, so stay tuned for more (heart)breaking news from the Queen City.
A Fifth Avenue apartment designed by Paul Rudolph in 1970 has been sold to a private owner for $26 million according to the the New York Observer. Commissioned by Claire & Maurits Edersheim for whom Rudolph also renovated a Larchmont New York house and a Smith Barney office, the apartment, according to the Paul Rudolph Foundation, "features many of the characteristic elements of Rudolph's interior architecture from the mid-Sixties through the Seventies: extensive use of mirrors and reflective surfaces, plastics and other synthetic materials, curvilinear geometry, painterly use of color, and experimental lighting." While it is not known if the new owners will retain any of the classic Rudolph interior, the Observer noted that the owners plan to combine the unit with another to create a larger duplex, which could mean Rudolph's details will be lost. The interior currently has a series of Rudolph's typical small, highly-designed spaces which look perfect for a dry martini!
Concrete architecture from the 1970s hasn't been faring well of late, but while Bertrand Goldberg's expressionist Prentice Hospital seems destined for the wrecking ball, Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York has been spared. In a 15-6 vote, the members of the Orange County Legislature backed a resolution to renovate the building, defeating efforts by County Executive Edward Diana who has pushed for demolition of Rudolph's dynamic and puzzling structure. The arguments hinged on cost more than on architectural merit, but even so, architecture fans will be relieved that this unique building will be spared.
The Paul Rudolph townhouse at 23 Beekman Place hit the market in early December, listed at $27.5 million. The property consists of four separate apartments, including the four-level penthouse that Rudolph himself lived in, along with his pet rabbits. But buyer beware: the penthouse, which was renovated in 2006 by Della Valle and Bernheimer, retains many signature Rudolph elements, like the death-defying stairways with no rails. Potential buyers should also consider getting "some new sprinklers and a back-up security system installed," as Chas Tenembaum, one fictional former tenant of The Royal Tenenbaums fame, noted after failing to escape the house in adequate time after a fire drill. "Four minutes and forty-eight seconds. We're all dead. Burned to a crisp."
In yet another turn of the screw, Orange County, New York county executive Eddie Diana's claim that a FEMA report proved Paul Rudolph's Government Center sustained substantial damage from Hurricane Irene turns out to bogus at best. Dogged reporting from the Times Herald-Record reveals once again that the county executive's numbers just don't add up: "Diana told reporters that county officials have coaxed FEMA into raising its original estimate to $535,000 from $505,000. By contrast, the county’s consultants had estimated $10.5 million in damages." FEMA officials blame the bulk of the damage on poor maintenance.
The perplexing yet bewitching jumble of concrete boxes known as Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York has been granted a reprieve. The county legislature voted 11 to 10 against a bond issue which would have funded the demolition of the Paul Rudolph designed building. Preservationists and architects have been following the project closely, and have made compelling arguments against the demolition and in favor of renovation. No word yet on whether the county will move to renovate the building, which suffers from leaks as well as damage from tropical storm Irene.
While Paul Rudolph aficionados are in a holding pattern until Thursday, awaiting news from Goshen about whether the Orange County Government Center will be torn down, Design Observer's Mark Lamster has put another endangered Rudolph onto their radar. The Sarasota school board in Florida is considering a renovation of Sarasota High School that would enclose its stepped entryway and canopy. Lamster warns that the alteration "would utterly compromise the Rudolph's vision and the work itself."
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.”
Recently AN put a spotlight on Rudolph's threatened Orange County Government Center, through photos and reporting, and many others are coming to defense of this challenging and bewitching building. The World Monuments Fund declared the building a culturally significant site, and a local group is protesting the planned demolition. Bloomberg's James S. Russell just visited, declaring it, "insistently attention-grabbing in photos, the building reveals a surprising delicacy in person. Rudolph’s complicated shape-making domesticates the building’s institutional scale." Will prominent architects from around the country rally to around Rudolph's singular creation? Time is running out.