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Paul Rudolph (American, 1918–1997)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

American architect. He studied architecture at Alabama Polytechnic Institute, Auburn (1935–40), and at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, under Walter Gropius (1939–43; 1946–7). He practised in a partnership with Ralph Twitchell in Sarasota, FL, from 1948 to 1952 and continued to build in Florida under his own name until the end of the 1950s. He first attracted national attention with a series of small houses that were in the functional style of his Harvard training but modified in detailing for the warm local climate and the post-war availability of new building techniques. The best known of these are the Healy Guest House (1948) and the Wheelan House (1951), both Siesta Key, near Sarasota (with Twitchell). The latter has a low-cost suspension roof of flat steel bars and external outriggers. Larger commissions from this period included the Mary Jewett Arts Center (1955–8), Wellesley College, MA, and the Sarasota High School (1958–9); the last has a free-standing concrete sun-breaker in front of it, reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s work at Chandigarh, but with a composition of more regular rectangular openings.

Rudolph moved his practice to New Haven, CT, in the late 1950s. His association with Yale University culminated in his appointment as chairman of its School of Art and Architecture (1958–65). He also designed the school’s new building (1958–64), a pivotal work in his career. Within its six storeys it has 36 levels of overlapping studio, library and exhibition space wrapped around a full-height glass-roofed central space, which serves as auditorium and jury presentation room. Its exterior walls are clad in concrete panels with a cast-in corrugated and chiselled surface, which Rudolph used in several subsequent works as an alternative to the then-current board-pattern finish. He used the latter, however, in his more expressionist Temple Street parking garage (1959), New Haven, whose solid parapet railings at each level have an inward-curving lower edge. Although Rudolph was never formally associated with Brutalism or with Team Ten, his housing for married students (1958–61), Yale University, was one of the most convincing built examples of their ideas. It has a compact, Mediterranean village layout and an exterior wall construction of red brick and exposed concrete floor slab edges.

In 1965 Rudolph moved his office to New York where his architectural practice developed into an international business. His projects, however, continued to reflect an overriding concern with architecture as an ensemble: spaces of varying shapes and sizes within large buildings, and buildings as part of a larger urban context. The former can be seen in the core buildings (1962–3) for Southeastern Massachusetts University, North Dartmouth, and the latter in the Government Center complex (1962–71) in Boston, with its plaza, colonnade and conformity to existing street patterns. He continued to research the megastructure idea in a series of large-scale unbuilt projects using various systems of structural frames with plug-in modular units, such as the Graphic Arts Center (1967; see Cook and Klotz, p. 108) and the Lower Manhattan Expressway (1967–72; see Cook and Klotz, p. 104), both New York, and various housing proposals (from 1979) for the Hong Fok company in Asia. He realized some of these urbanistic ideas in more modest forms, for example the Waterfront Development complex (1969–72), Buffalo, NY, and the Burroughs Wellcome company headquarters (1969), Durham, NC. Rudolph’s sculptural use of space and creative extension of building technology had wide influence in the 1960s.

Robert M. Craig
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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