Monday, December 18, 2006

Developer Prepares to Demolish Westport's Paul Rudolph House

[Read 'Modern,' our new modern house blog, here.]


What’s the proper term for a developer who buys an architecturally significant modern house in Westport so he can knock it down and build a McMansion and who then explains it away by saying this:

“The house is not historically significant, and any view of how good or bad an architect Paul Rudolph was is purely subjective,” said David Waldman, who runs a commercial real estate company and whose wife is listed in town records as the buyer of the house.

And what’s the proper term for a real estate agent who sold it to the Waldmans, presumably knowing full well what she was selling and why and who explains it away by saying this:

“People are not interested in houses from the 1970s,” said Marina Leo of the Higgins Group real estate agency…

What's the proper term? “Greedy philistines” comes to mind, in my opinion.

The Times reported over the weekend that Waldman is demolishing the house this week. Here’s what the story also says about Paul Rudolph and the house he designed, which looks out over Long Island Sound to the Norwalk Islands:

It was designed by Paul Rudolph, who was the dean of the Yale School of Architecture from 1958 to 1965 and a student of the Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. Mr. Rudolph, who died in 1997, built homes and public and commercial buildings. Among them are his penthouse apartment on Beekman Place in Manhattan, Yale’s Art and Architecture Building and the Burroughs Wellcome headquarters in North Carolina.

And Robert A.M. Stern, the current dean of Yale’s architecture school said:

“All over the world people are waking up to the fact that Modernist houses are valuable works of art. The town of Westport will be diminished by this loss.”

[For more on the issue, see The Destruction of Paul Rudolph's Micheels House in the right hand column.]

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Michael Glynn said...

It is not over yet, we (and recently with the help of the Connecticut's state historic preservation officer and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation), will battle on until the bitter end to save what is perhaps Rudolph's greatest house. You will hear more in the coming days.
Michael Glynn
Michael Glynn Architects
New York, NY.

5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul Rudolph was not so much an architect as an architectural stylist, endowed with a genius for the derivative. He borrowed bits of this and bits of that from Walter Gropius, Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier. He feverishly cut and pasted the bits together, until voila! Effect was everything.

But those who used his buildings inevitably discovered weak functioning behind the Brutalist posturing. So if Rudolph's designs are today disappearing from the landscape at a heady pace, it is just the proper sifting of time, which separates true masterworks from period pieces no longer in fashion.

8:32 AM  

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