King Rudolph; Paul Rudolph: the late work – Reviews – Brief Article

King Rudolph; Paul Rudolph: the late work – Reviews – Brief Article – Book Review

Raymund Ryan


By Roberto de Alba. London: Princeton Architectural Press. 2003. [pounds sterling]30

For an America bracketed by the International Style and then the faux historicity of Postmodernism, Paul Rudolph (1918-1997) was a master architect. Rudolph’s career, however, peaked in 1962 with the Yale School of Art & Architecture, a building that both looked back to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building and forward to Richard Rogers & Partners’ Lloyd’s of London. But a fire (arson?) at Yale in 1969 forcefully suggested a rejection of Rudolph’s architecture. It signals, in retrospect, three subsequent decades of professional twilight–a lonely furrow with occasional obeisance from New York’s avant-garde–but also of consistently dedicated, little-known work.

This compact book is Volume Three in a tripartite series (Volume One–on his light, and light-filled, structures in postwar Florida–revealed both Rudolph’s Baroque tendencies and a proto-Critical Regionalism). It was compiled by Roberto de Alba, one of a cadre of 1980s Yale students who began to reassess (often to their professors’ bafflement) Rudolph’s legacy. Dividing the post-1969 work into the categories ‘Houses’, ‘Towers’, and ‘Housing, Institutions and the City’, de Alba also adds a welcome preface from Mildred Schmertz, a long–but dry–essay by Robert Bruegmann, and a characteristically waspish conversation between Rudolph and Peter Blake.

De Alba has sensibly emphasized Rudolph’s remarkable drawings, both his black and white perspectives and his Scarpa-like sketches. At times, as with the vast Bass Residence in Fort Worth, there are some discrepancies between interim and final design drawings. Rudolph’s late projects were often located in South-East Asia, complex towers built in Hong Kong, Singapore and Jakarta with–again–suggestions of Frank Lloyd Wright (the plan of Fallingwater stacked Metabolistically) and Critical Regionalism. Nevertheless his own multi-storey penthouse in Manhattan (AR August 1999) is the obvious gem in this collection.

COPYRIGHT 2003 EMAP Architecture

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