Another Paul Rudolph Tear Down

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Another Paul Rudolph Tear Down

Postby ch » Sun May 13, 2007 2:24 pm

Bad news for preservationists but a potential opportunity for an adventurous house mover who wants a fab modern.


Watch Hill Gem Is Just Another Tear-Down

By WILLIAM MORGAN

There is a 1956 house overlooking the ocean in Watch Hill, R.I. As a domestic work by the great Paul Rudolph, it ought to be treasured as one of most important examples of modern architecture in the region. But, like the Micheels house in Westport that was demolished in January, the Cerritto house in Watch Hill will be razed before summer - to be replaced by an 8,000-square-foot mansion. That will leave the 1957 Yanofsky house in the Boston suburb of Chestnut Hill as the only remaining Rudolph house in New England.

Rudolph (1918-1997), one of the most controversial architects of the 20th century, is usually remembered for his stormy tenure as dean of architecture at Yale, where he designed the raw concrete home for the school. Long reviled, often misunderstood and now revered, the infamous Art and Architecture building is a metaphor of the stormy 1960s on American college campuses.

Asked to name other works by the noted architectural rebel, people invariably recall his vigorous, consciously rough public monuments such as the Temple Street Parking Garage or Crawford Manor in New Haven, as well as the campus at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. Yet arguably his best works are his beach houses, most of which were built on the west coast of Florida in the 1950s. The leading critic of the day hailed the so-named Sarasota School as "the most exciting new architecture in the world."

The Watch Hill house is very much in the spirit of those marvelous but fast-disappearing seaside homes along the Gulf of Mexico. Rudolph's Rhode Island house is gentle and unassuming. It is a simple rectangular box with a pair of parasol-like sunscreens; its repetitive modularity gives it the quiet air of a Japanese temple.

As one longtime summer resident noted, the Rudolph house "is totally inappropriate to Watch Hill." Nevertheless, this modest, seemingly floating wooden temple responds far more sensitively to its surroundings of beach, marsh, and the ocean than so many of Watch Hill's overblown and pretentious newer houses.

Watering places in New England have often been leaders in domestic design, as if somehow conservative Bostonians or Philadelphians allowed themselves a certain freedom, an air of leisure and relaxation, on their vacations.

One thinks of the many Shingle Style houses built at the end of the 19th century in places like Bar Harbor, Newport and Boston's North Shore. In the 20th century, one recalls Richard Neutra's thoroughly European modern "Windshield" house built on nearby Fishers Island for John Nicholas Brown in 1936.

The tradition of progressive design springing up along the seashore continued particularly after World War II. The best Modern architects flocked to places like Cape Cod and eastern Long Island, where they experimented with new materials and construction techniques, as well as found ways to respond to the fragile, sandy terrain. A variety of architects from New York, Boston and beyond created a virtual catalog of exciting new houses on Martha's Vineyard.

This spirit of architectural exploration is behind us, as many of the experimental seaside seasonal houses are being replaced by sometimes obscenely large, far more permanent-looking houses that have more to say of their owner's ego-flexing than with capturing the spirit of a place.

While new buildings in Watch Hill may pay stylistic lip service to earlier examples, the proliferation of multiple dormers, porches and garages makes the Rudolph house seem like an elegant piece of Swedish crystal in a shop stuffed with Victorian antiques.

The owners have offered to give the house to anyone who will move it, but such an impractical, disingenuous solution would also destroy this subtle, understated masterpiece. This avant-garde house has graced Watch Hill for half a century, but its loss will be mourned far beyond the borders of one now less adventurous summer resort.

William Morgan, a Providence-based architectural writer, is the author of "The Cape Cod Cottage" (Princeton Architectural Press).
Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant

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Postby SDR » Sun May 13, 2007 2:45 pm

There's one small photo here:

http://www.docomomo-us.org/files/DO_CONews_06Summer.pdf

Thanks for the article, Craig.
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Postby MD² » Sun May 13, 2007 8:30 pm

Someone somewhere must really hate that guy... :(


Thanks for the article Craig. For anyone interested, here's the original story's address:
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/com ... 0891.story

Preservation Online alredy mentioned this last december, see Paul Rudolph's Modernist Designs To Be Trashed:
http://www.nationaltrust.org/magazine/a ... 122906.htm

And architect Michael Glynn mentioned this last November when the the Micheels residence was torn down:
http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v ... eman_hill/

But there's still hope to save the Riverview High School: http://saveriverview.blogspot.com/

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Saved!!

Postby ch » Wed May 23, 2007 2:56 am

Image

The Paul Rudolph house in Rhode Island has found new owners:

"Thanks to two New York designers, however, that 1956 clapboard Rudolph dwelling has been spared the fate of its demolished siblings. This week a crew is dislodging the house from its foundations in preparation for its move to Catskill, N.Y. ..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/23/arts/ ... yt&emc=rss[/img]

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Postby heidi_loo » Wed Jun 13, 2007 12:19 pm

Update to this topic. Turns out the deal has now fallen apart and the fate of the house seems to be demolition.

Read more abou the unravelling here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/13/arts/ ... ref=slogin

Very sad...

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Postby SDR » Wed Jun 13, 2007 4:06 pm

Disgusting. I'm assuming that there's room for a bigger house AND the present structure on the property; if so, why can't the new owners keep the Rudolph house as a guest retreat/historic amenity ?

There's too much money in the wrong hands -- as ever.

SDR and Bender holding candle-light vigil. . . :roll:

[Sorry if that isn't pleasant and light-hearted enough for you.]
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Postby mod cats » Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:26 pm

This is terrible, terrible news... when I read of the deal to save it, I thought it was perfect. I too am wondering why it couldn't be used as a guest house, as in the situation with the Revere Quality House in Sarasota. A new yet Modern-style house sits next to it on the three-lot waterfront site. The property is for sale.

I recently visited the Walker Guest House on Sanibel Island, Fla., and it is fantastic. The owner is rightfully proud of this amazing structure.

Does anyone know of any events marking the 10th anniversary of Paul Rudolph's death?

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Postby ch » Thu Jun 14, 2007 3:18 am

Something similar was also done with the Rudolph designed Burkhardt house in Casey Key, Florida. The original house was restored and a new, larger residence was designed by Toshiko Mori as an adjoining structure.

It seems the best views, the highest hills, the ocean and lake side are now reserved for the wealthy. While I do understand the underlying economics, I don't have to like them.

And please don't get me started on 4 car garages and 6 burner ranges as must haves...

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Postby mod cats » Sun Jun 17, 2007 6:14 pm

Do you have any photos you could post of the Burkhardt residence? I'd like to see them.....

It's unfortunate that economics play such a huge part, but of course that's the way it is, especially here. And even if you have the money to buy an appropriately priced, well-preserved Rudolph home, you may still be surrounded by mindlessly designed McMansions.

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Photos from Sarasota, Casey Key, etc...

Postby 5280mod » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:28 pm

Growing up, I spent one week almost every winter with my family in a modest 1940's beach house on Casey Key... It's very distressing to see the "Pink Stucco Palaces" and other manmade eyesores that have taken over the keys.

TomL and I were in Sarasota last August visiting Grandma and spent many days exploring. He has just posted photos of the trip, including Rudolph's Sarasota High School and perhaps the Burkhardt home on Casey Key.

Check it out here:
Shannon Stanbro
720.279.4884 Cell
877.713.1110 Toll Free
www.5280mod.com


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