Paul Rudolph

Paul Rudolph was a second-generation modernist who went on to define his own unique architectural approach. A southerner from Kentucky and Auburn University, Paul Rudolph came to the Harvard GSD to study under Walter Gropius, and after serving in the Navy during WWII, received his degree in 1947.

Following Harvard, Rudolph moved to Sarasota, Florida, where he advanced his bold modern style centered on concrete structures in projects of increasing national visibility. This led to his commissions for the Jewett Arts Center at Wellesley College and the Yale School of Art & Architecture building in New Haven, where he joined the faculty and became Chair in 1958. Norman Foster and Richard Rogers both studied under Rudolph at Yale.

Following his tenure at Yale, he won a number of commissions in Massachusetts: the Hurley Government Service Center in Boston, First Church in Boston, and the main campus of UMass Dartmouth. It was here in Boston that Rudolph honed his signature style of rough concrete that came to be known as “Brutalist.”

David Fixler observes: “Rudolph… very early rejected the collaborative design ethos in favor of the Howard Roark/Frank Lloyd Wright model of the architect as the solitary genius guiding a team of acolytes… Rudolph’s buildings… are insistent and instantly memorable as architecture — the experience of them is about them, the use and understanding of their spaces dictated by their formal power. This sensibility is evident at every scale and in every period of his work…”

With the decline of Brutalist architecture in the 1970s, Rudolph’s work in the U.S. slowed. And, as David Coleman wrote in October 2011: "Other issues contributed to Rudolph's loss of status: the rise of postmodernism, which he hated; the end of enthusiasm for the ambitious government buildings he loved; the fact that he was gay in a predominantly straight industry." His practice turned to international commissions and more conventional glass box styles in his later years.

To learn more, see The Rudolph Foundation: https://paulrudolph.org/paul-rudolph/ UMass Dartmouth also hosts a website about Rudolph and his work: http://prudolph.lib.umassd.edu

Sources: “Ben & Paul,” David Fixler, Architecture Boston, February 3, 2011; "Master Builder: Architect Paul Rudolph's career was as dramatic as his buildings" David Colman, Elle Décor, October 2011; Wikipedia.