PAUL MARVIN RUDOLPH, FAIA
Renowned Sarasota architect Paul Rudolph is highly acclaimed for his local contributions to what is known as “Sarasota Modern” architecture. His early work in Sarasota residential design utilized jalousie windows, to take advantage of Sarasota Bay breezes, with an overall minimalist design geared to embrace Sarasota’s subtropical climate. Recognized for the contemporary approach, minimalist design and spatial concepts, his innovative design can be seen throughout the Sarasota area.
Born October, 1918, in Kentucky, Rudolph earned his bachelor of arts degree in architecture from what is now Auburn University in 1940. After working with E. B. Van Koeren in Birmingham and Ralph Twitchell in Sarasota, he went to the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1941 to study with Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius. He completed his master of arts degree from Harvard after a three year tour with the Navy. In 1948, Ralph Twitchell offered a full partnership to Rudolph in his firm in Sarasota, Florida. They worked together until Rudolph went on his own in 1951.
Rudolph became a leader of the “Sarasota School,” a style of architecture founded by Twitchell and many renowned Florida architects. With a focus on making architecture in harmony with its surroundings, Sarasota architecture featured a clean, open contemporary floor plan, filled with light and terrazzo floors, wide overhangs, and flat roofs.
Lido Shores located on Lido Key near downtown Sarasota is perhaps the finest example of his Florida design legacy. Although many of the original homes have been renovated over the years, his unmistakable designs remain as a testament to his extraordinary talent.
Other Sarasota landmarks by Rudolph include the initial design of Sarasota County Riverview High School, built in 1957. When considering restoration or replacement, there was a great deal of controversy in Sarasota, as many members of the community appealed for the retention of this historical significant structure. During the controversy, Charles Gwathmey, the architect overseeing renovation of the Art and Architecture Building at Yale, said “Riverview High School is a fantastic prototype of what today we call green architecture. He (Rudolph) was so far ahead of his time, experimenting with sun screens and cross-ventilation. If it’s torn down, I feel badly for architecture.” The decision was reached in 2006 to destroy the original structure, which was demolished in June of 2009.
At the age of 39, Yale University appointed Paul Rudolph as Head of Architecture in 1957, after he designed the Yale Art and Architecture Building, a structure considered his masterpiece. He stayed at Yale for six years until moving to New York in 1966.
As Rudolph’s popularity reached new heights, he was offered larger projects and began to design buildings throughout the Northeast. He was commissioned to create a master plan for Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. His other works include Boston’s Government Service Center and First Church; Colgate University’s Dana Arts Center, Burroughs Welcome headquarters in North Carolina; the main campus of the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth and the Jewett Art Center at Wellesley College. In the 70s Rudolph’s work continued to evolve with an increase in international demand. He designed major international projects into the 1990s.
Upon his death in 1997, he donated his entire career archive to the Library of Congress. His bequest helped to establish the Center for Architecture, Design, and Engineering at the Library of Congress. Paul Rudolph left an architectural legacy to Sarasota, as well as an acclaimed international architectural footprint.
In one of Rudolph’s few articles, ‘Enigmas of Architecture’, written in 1977, he said,
“Architecture is used space formed for psychological and symbolical reasons. Architectural space overrides all its integrating elements and concepts by consciously forming enclosed voids to accommodate human beings in the totality of their psychic and physical life and in their various pursuits and intentions.”