Articles: Two different takes on a Paul Rudolph building

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SDR
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Post by SDR »

Only an amateur would find it necessary to heap so much mud on something he wants us to dislike. Even our most committed Europhobes here at WC, for instance, would never stoop to such comical virulence.

SDR

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Demolishing buildings that have become unfashionable is a dangerous thing to do. In the 1950s and 60s, countless late 19th century and Art Deco buildings were demolished or remodeled beyond recognition, lost forever because the taste-makers had moved on to the Miesian Mode. William Pereira's Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Charles Johnston's Univ. of Minnesota Coffman Student Union and the Metropolitan Building of 1890 in downtown Minneapolis are just three magnificent buildings (1 demolished, 2 horribly disfigured) that have been lost for no good reason.

The Orange County Government Building may not be Rudolph's best work, but it's too soon to dismiss it as unimportant, especially since a reasonable plan to keep it has been offered. Too many of his buildings have gone the way of the wrecking ball.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

The demo advocate/author certainly is not an intellectual giant. He writes on the level of a sixth grader.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Matt
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Post by Matt »

He does write like a whining brat, not someone who can make a thought-out argument against the building. Here is such an argument:

Often a building with a revolutionary design is ridiculed as soon as it is completed. There are protests and outcries for its demolition. Then a funny things happens…after a couple decades people grow to like the building. Those who hate it give up their hate and those who grow up with the building connect pleasant memories to it. Then the building is often embraced and any calls for demolition are fought tooth and nail. The same thing happens with public art.

The odd part about the Brutalist movement is that time has not sweetened the public's opinion of the buildings. They seemed brutal when new and they still seem brutal. Few are ever embraced by the public. The Salk Institute is one and that may be due more to the vast courtyard than the building itself. I pin the flaw to the use of so much exposed concrete that has an institutional feel and comes across as cold and lacking any personality. I hope the Rudolph building survives this attack…the tide of public opinion may one day turn, but I can understand why it hasn't yet. The sad part is that such ostracized buildings are often starved out of existence by deferred maintenance.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

If you read any online news stories that include reader comments at the end, you will see that the sort of whining brat mentality shown here is all too common. It's an Internet phenomenon. It dissuades me from joining in the comments. People complain about how tough we are on this site, but we
are gracious compared to any story online, especially political or religious.

One brutalist building I wouldn't mourn the passing of is Boston City Hall. But Rudolph's work is better than most; he gave texture to his concrete in most instances. I don't know about the Orange County building. The exterior does not fill my heart with joy, and I found few interior shots online. But Rudolph's reputation was secured even before he left Florida for New York. It should be preserved.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

If we were to change the article date to 1955, and the architect's name to Furness, or 1963 and McKim Mead & White, I suspect the basic mindsets of the players would be the same.

We seem to be in a culture that feeds and thrives on outrage, and which will drop all manner of civil behavior to defend a point of view no matter how narrow.

Wrighter
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Post by Wrighter »

We had two Brutalist buildings on our campus.

The first: Tons of concrete, odd punctuated open terraces that were probably meant to be gathering places, but which a lack of safety railing surely doomed to uselessness shortly after the building opened. Arranged in a T--one inside corner arranged around a lower courtyard, one around an upper. I have to admit, it was one of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen.

However, it easily had the best natural light of any structure on campus. In the classroom wing anyway, instead of two rows of classrooms and a hallway between them, you had the hallway, open to the sun on one side, and classrooms open to the sun on the other. On a bright day, it was glorious. But man, was it ugly.

The second Brutalist building, they've softened the interior considerably with wood, fabric installations, and drop ceilings operating as light fixtures.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

I don't know what campus that was so I can't investigate independently. But it's a pleasure to hear about the interior effects of any structure.

As to railing height, Wrightiana is filled with examples of "inadequate" parapet provision, as is the world of building in general prior to the onset of bureaucratic nurse-tending. Do we expect anyone to add safety railings at, say, one of the architect's most-revered residential structures ? Shh -- they may be listening !

SDR

JimM
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Post by JimM »

If you know anything about The Daily Caller, you wouldn't be surprised they abhor anything, even architecture, that might in any way foster, as Kimmelman put it, a " concept of energetic governance as a democratic ideal".

DavidC
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Post by DavidC »


SDR
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Post by SDR »

Gah. Feckless pantywaists. One is inspired to paraphrase Wright, something to the effect of "leaving anything political to the politicians" . . .

SDR

SDR
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Re: Articles: Two different takes on a Paul Rudolph building

Post by SDR »

"As a former copy editor, I always feel I am defending the person whose name is being misspelled, not attacking the person who misspells it." Ronald Alan McCrea (1943-2019)

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