Early Work   1941-1960
Paul Rudolph (1918-1997, United States) was one of the pioneers of the Sarasota School of Architecture, a group of post-war modern architects (1941-1966) known for thoughtful consideration of how architecture should adapt to local climates and landscape. Before moving to Sarasota in 1941 to work for Ralph Twitchell, Rudolph studied architecture at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) and received a Master of Architecture from Harvard. Rudolph’s studies endured a brief pause by a stint in the Navy – an experience that transformed his architectural practice.
Rudolph designed the Cocoon House with a concave roof finished with a spray-on technology that he encountered as the Officer-in-Charge of Ship Construction at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Sarasota High School   1958-1960
Rudolph designed the Vocational Shops building, which now hosts the Museum’s Bistro and McGuire Hall, in conjunction with the high school in 1959. This building provided space for students to sell items from their trade studies, which included Agriculture, Shop, Wood, and Metal classes. As an ode to M. Leo Elliot’s Collegiate Gothic exterior, Rudolph incorporated bricks into the structure. Rudolph also implemented functional elements, such as the square openings at the north end of the building, which provided ventilation for the space—now solely serving a decorative function that projects dancing shadows across the façade as the sun shifts throughout the day.
Rudolph received the prestigious Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects Honor Awards Program in1962 for his Sarasota High School design. The SHS project signifies Rudolph’s exploration of new design elements, such as mass and grand appearance over airy, finer, and prefabricated materials. The building is one of Rudolph’s last Sarasota projects before he relocated to the Northeast, where the city spaces were more accommodating to his interest in mass scale.
Late Work   1960-1997
Rudolph’s newly discovered interest in large-scale structures forever altered his design language. While the relation of scale and space were considered in his earlier work, in conversation with functionalism and modularity, Rudolph later honed his control of space through imaginative explorations of controlled light and shadow. The exaggerated shapes integrated into many of Rudolph’s projects from the 60s and 70s were achieved with the concrete block types Rudolph developed himself. These details gave the interiors and exteriors of his designs sculptural appeal that distinguished these structures from the flatness of his 1940s and 50s projects, although this is not to say that the play of horizontal and vertical planes did not persist in his designs–this relationship remained core to his practice.
An example of the fluted, ribbed, and splitface block types developed by Rudolph.
During Rudolph’s later years, many of his projects were focused abroad with large-scale projects in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Indonesia. Despite their grander scale, elements in these projects reflected those of his earlier designs. Rudolph’s dedication to adapting to the environment and regional tradition, his favor for modularity and dislike of symmetry, and his belief that variety was an important part of design endured until his death in 1997.
Rudolph honors the pagoda structure by echoing the traditional shape with cantilevered elements.
This online exhibition will be on view in the Museum’s Rudolph building.