Judge saves Paul Rudolph’s near-doomed Goshen Government Center—at least for now

Rudolph's Government Center. (ANI OD CHAI / FLICKR)

Rudolph’s Government Center. (ANI OD CHAI / FLICKR)

As AN recently reported, the very long and very heated fight over Paul Rudolph’s Government Center in Goshen, New York would likely end in the courts or with demolition. While local attorney Michael Sussman promised to sue the county to save the building, it sure looked like Rudolph’s work was not long for this world. For one, construction equipment is now conspicuously lurking outside the building.

But now, maybe, there’s some hope.

The public asked to help save this Paul Rudolph shelter in Sarasota, Florida

Architecture, East, Preservation
Thursday, March 26, 2015
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(Courtesy Sarasota Architectural Foundation)

(Courtesy Sarasota Architectural Foundation)

 

Why is Paul Rudolph—like much of Brutalism—so unloved by officialdom? His Orange County Government in Goshen, New York has been under threat of demolition by local government for several years. Now an elegant canopy the architect designed and built in 196o for Sarasota High School in Florida may also end up in a local landfill.

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English group spearheads effort to save the early Brutalist Robin Hood Gardens

robin-hood-england

Robin Hood Gardens. (Luke Hayes)

What do the English have against works produced by members of the Independent Group? The loose post–World War II group of artists, architects, writers, and critics produced public art, gallery installations, and even architecture. On this side of the Atlantic we always think the Brits save their landmarks—unlike the American tendency to tear them down before they can be landmarked.

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Boston mayor wants ideas to overhaul the city’s windswept City Hall Plaza

Boston City Hall, built in the 1960s to resemble the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Boston City Hall, built in the 1960s to resemble the Piazza del Campo in Sienna, Italy. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

If Boston City Hall were a celebrity, it might be a fixture on tabloid “Worst Dressed” lists. The Brutalist building elicits strong sentiments from architectural observers and everyday citizens alike, but most agree the City Hall Plaza could use some sprucing up. In his inaugural State of the City address Mayor Marty Walsh called on residents to help him reimagine the barren, 11-acre brick expanse.

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Gould Evans Rewraps Kansas Library

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Rather than adding on to one end of the existing structure, Gould Evans wrapped a new reading room and terra cotta facade around the old Lawrence Public Library. (Courtesy Gould Evans)

Rather than adding on to one end of the existing structure, Gould Evans wrapped a new reading room and terra cotta facade around the old Lawrence Public Library. (Courtesy Gould Evans)

Terra cotta rain screen transforms brutalist eyesore into energy-efficient community space.

Considered an aesthetic and functional failure almost since its construction in 1974, the old public library in Lawrence, Kansas, was overdue for a renovation four decades later. Gould Evans‘ challenge was to transform the low-slung brutalist behemoth, a poor environmental performer lacking both adequate daylighting and a sense of connection to the community, into an asset. “The desire was to try to come up with a building that basically reinvented the library for the community,” said vice president Sean Zaudke. Rather than tacking an addition on to one end of the existing structure, the architects elected to wrap a 20,000-square-foot reading room and open stacks area around the old facade. In so doing, they altered the exterior for the better, swapping bare concrete for an earth-hued terra cotta rain screen punctuated by plentiful glazing. They also significantly enhanced the library’s environmental performance, with early estimates suggesting that the new Lawrence Public Library will see a 50 percent reduction in energy usage despite a 50 percent increase in square footage.

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Another Brutalist Wonder Bites the Dust: Johansen’s Mechanic Theatre

Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore (photo: Edward Gunts)

Despite pleas for preservation from some of the nation’s top architects, demolition work has begun on  a nationally significant example of “Brutalist” architecture in north America, the 1967 Morris A. Mechanic Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland, designed by the late John M. Johansen.

A  yellow backhoe with a spike-like attachment began chipping into the theater’s concrete exterior earlier this month, ending any chance that the building could be saved. One local preservationist was able to salvage the original letters from the  building, but nothing else. Read More

Erasmus University Rotterdam Restarts Campus Heart with Modernized Grounds

City Terrain, International
Monday, November 11, 2013
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(Courtesy Powerhouse)

The new campus heart of Erasmus University Rotterdam provides a contemporary space for student gathering. (Courtesy Powerhouse Company & DeZwarteHond)

This month, a newly opened public campus center brought the brutalist Erasmus University Rotterdam Woudestein Campus back to life. In a collaborative effort by several Dutch architectural firms, three projects have been realized at Woudestein to create a contemporary on-campus heart for student gathering. Integrating existing grounds of several elevations, the sustainably built center provides multi-level student resources and is the first phase of a university-wide redevelopment master plan, which will extend into 2015.

Continue Reading After the Jump.

Five Paul Rudolph Buildings Under Threat in Buffalo

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
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Paul Rudolph's Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo, New York (Kelvin Dickinson / Flickr)

Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo, New York (Kelvin Dickinson / Flickr)

2013 has proven to be a difficult year for post-war concrete architecture. While some iconic structures have managed to emerge from the maelstrom of demolition attempts unharmed, including M. Paul Friedberg’s Peavy Plaza in Minneapolis and (tentatively) the Paul Rudolph–designed Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York (the fate of which still remains uncertain), others have been less lucky.

John Johansen’s daring Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City, Richard Neutra’s Gettysburg Cyclorama and, more recently, Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital in Chicago have all been doomed to the wrecking ball. Despite architectural historian Michael R. Allen’s claim that the demolition of the Prentice’ Woman’s Hospital would be Modernism’s “Penn Station Moment,” the trend still pushes on.

The next in line to fight for its survival is a set of Paul Rudolph buildings in Buffalo, New York. Tomorrow, November 6, at 8:15 a.m., the Buffalo City Planning Board will convene to decide the fate of five buildings included in Rudolph’s 9.5-acre Shoreline Apartment complex.

Continue reading after the jump.

Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center Gets Reprieve, Vote Points To Renovation

East
Monday, February 11, 2013
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(Tom Stoelker / AN)

(Tom Stoelker / AN)

Concrete architecture from the 1970s hasn’t been faring well of late, but while Bertrand Goldberg’s expressionist Prentice Hospital seems destined for the wrecking ball, Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York has been spared. In a 15-6 vote, the members of the Orange County Legislature backed a resolution to renovate the building, defeating efforts by County Executive Edward Diana who has pushed for demolition of Rudolph’s dynamic and puzzling structure. The arguments hinged on cost more than on architectural merit, but even so, architecture fans will be relieved that this unique building will be spared.

Dispute Could Doom John Johansen’s Iconic Mummers Theater

Southwest
Friday, May 11, 2012
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John Johansen's Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City. (Courtesy of Farooq S. Karim)

John Johansen’s Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City. (Courtesy of Farooq S. Karim)

John Johansen’s iconic Mummers Theater in Oklahoma City may be demolished in the next year. Built with a $1.7 million grant from the Ford Foundation, the so called “Brutalist” building was closed in 2010 due to flooding and a local Oklahoma City group has been trying to purchase it for a downtown children’s museum.

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Rudolph Lives! At Least For Now.  Rudolph Lives! At Least For Now The perplexing yet bewitching jumble of concrete boxes known as Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in Goshen, New York has been granted a reprieve. The county legislature voted 11 to 10 against a bond issue which would have funded the demolition of the Paul Rudolph designed building. Preservationists and architects have been following the project closely, and have made compelling arguments against the demolition and in favor of renovation. No word yet on whether the county will move to renovate the building, which suffers from leaks as well as damage from tropical storm Irene.

 

Fate of Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center in the Balance

East, Newsletter
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
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Yesterday's committee vote approved replacing Orange County Government Center. (AN/Stoelker)

Yesterday's committee vote approved replacing Orange County Government Center. (AN/Stoelker)

Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center moved a tentative step closer to demolition yesterday after a subcommittee of the county legislature approved $14.6 million to finance the design of a new $75 million complex. With the subcommittee vote cleared, a full vote by the legislature is expected on May 3. But committee chair Michael Pilmeier’s vote breaking a four to four split hints that the plan may not have the two-third majority of the legislature needed to proceed.

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