PAUL MARVIN RUDOLPH, FAIA (1918-1997)
Rudolph grew up in Elkton KY. His father was an itinerant minister whose travels exposed his son to architecture in the American South. In 1940 Rudolph earned his Bachelors degree in Architecture at Auburn University (then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute). After working briefly with E. B. Van Koeren in Birmingham and Ralph Twitchell in Sarasota, he entered the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1941 to study under Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius.
In 1942, Rudolph began Naval officer training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University. Afterwards, he served in the Navy for three years before returning to Harvard to earn his Masters degree in 1947.
In 1948, Rudolph won Harvard Graduate School of Design’s annual traveling fellowship. He traveled throughout Europe until the summer of 1949 when Ralph Twitchell offered him full partnership. Rudolph moved to Sarasota FL for that job until 1951 when he founded his own firm. In Florida, Rudolph became a leader of the Sarasota Style of architecture associated with architects Ralph Twitchell, Ralph Zimmerman, William Zimmerman, Philip Hiss, Jack West, Gene Leedy, Mark Hampton, Phil Hall, Roland Sellew, Tim Seibert, Victor Lundy, Bill Rupp, John and Ken Warriner, Tolyn Twitchell, Bert Brosmith, Frank Folsom Smith, Boyd Blackner, Louis Schneider, James Holiday, Joseph Farrell, and Carl Abbott. The Sarasota Style emphasized architecture in harmony with its surroundings. To that end, its signature elements were clean, open floor plans; terrazzo floors; an abundance of natural light from extensive glazing; and flat roofs with wide overhangs to shade the glazing. Ralph Twitchell’s nephew, Jack Twitchell, built many of Rudolph’s houses.
Rudolph moved to the Yale School of Architecture as Dean in 1958, shortly after designing the Yale Art and Architecture Building, a structure considered his masterpiece, below. He stayed at Yale for six years until moving to New York in 1966. He inspired a generation of architects. The public, however, did not warm to his large brutalist designs, finding the intense use of concrete and steel to be ugly and oppressive.
In 1997, Rudolph passed away in New York City. According to his obituary in The New York Times, “With the exception of Louis I. Kahn, no American architect of his generation enjoyed higher esteem in the 1960’s. But after 1970, his reputation plummeted. Many of his buildings are being torn down, or are in danger of being torn down. Mr. Rudolph leaves behind a perplexing legacy that will take many years to untangle.”
At the time of his death he was working on plans for a new town of 250,000 people in Indonesia and several projects in Singapore. In North Carolina, he designed the 1972 Burroughs Wellcome Headquarters shown below along with additions in 1976, 1978, and 1982. The entire site was sold to United Therapeutics in 2012.
United Therapeutics announced they would save the original building above as part of a new lab campus, the main building of which is shown below.
This page is the official Rudolph residential index for the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, founded in 2015 by Ernst Wagner. That is different from the Paul Rudolph Foundation, also founded by Ernst Wagner (in 2002) but as of 2015 led by former Paul Rudolph Foundation board member, architect George Balle. There was a split, and the two Rudolph foundations appear not to interact with or mention each other.
NCMH does not endorse one Foundation over the other; we are concerned only with the documentation of Rudolph’s brilliant houses.