20th Anniversary of Paul Rudolph’s Passing

Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of Paul Rudolph’s passing.  Were he still living, he would be 99 years old. Born in Kentucky, Rudolph graduated from Auburn University and Harvard Graduate School of Design. After successfully practicing architecture in Florida as part of what has become known as the “Sarasota School,” he became the head of the Yale School of Architecture in 1958. Rudolph was one of the leading architects of the 1950s & 1960s; his work can be seen as a bridge from International Style modern architecture to Brutalism, and his influence waned with the rise of Postmodernism in the 1970s and 1980s.

“The 28 apartments are each composed of an upper and lower section. Each section was transported to the site intact and stacked “piggy-back” by cranes. It took less than two weeks to put up the whole village up” Building Block Houses, Life Magazine Oct. 18, 1968. From books.google.com accessed 03-18-2013

Rudolph has one documented building completed in Mississippi, the Fredella Village Apartments in Vicksburg. Unfortunately, they’ve been slowly losing their architectural integrity over the years with the addition of a gabled roof and vinyl siding.   The Fredella Village complex will be 50 years old this year, having been assembled over an eight-day period during December 1967.  You can read more about the apartment complex here…


Hurricane Room- Buena Vista Hotel ca. 1956- Mississippi State University Digital Archive CHARM collection

I’m only aware of one visit made by Rudolph to Mississippi.  In 1953 he spoke at the Gulf States Conference of the American Institute of Architects that was held in Biloxi.  Rudolph talked about the idea of regional modern architecture, stating that many of modern architecture’s ideas are easy to execute in the South.  Known for his mastery of space and form, Rudolph deduced that regional modernism would flourish not through use of materials, but rather through form.  You can read more about his presentation and the 1953 AIA Gulf States Conference here…


Categories: African American History, Historic Preservation, Modernism, Recent Past, Vicksburg


8 replies

  1. thanks, tom, for this brief comment about one of america’s most interesting and ‘individual’ architects. i was fortunate to have known him in the 1970s and 80s, and i occasionally visited him in his incredible home in nyc at 23 beekman place. he was very low key and charming– even, background—nothing like what i know of frank lloyd wright’s personality! i treasure those memories.

    rudolph’s ‘apartment’ was one of 4 units in a smallish building at which he had remodeled; 23 beekman was then, and still is a great address! his unit was unique, and, no, probably not to most people’s taste. it was remodeled in 2006, and was on the market for $28 million in 2014. there is an incredible amount of data on rudolph on the net, and, for those that are interested, there is a lot on 23 beekman place— especially images, including architectural drawings.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. in my opinion, rudolph can be considered a southern-born architect, and he was particularly attuned to the varieties of ‘the southern climate(s)’.

    in the early 1960s, rudolph created a monumental albeit small-scaled neo-greco-roman house for a high school ladyfriend and her husband in athens, al—the wallace house. completed in 1964, it was widely published; i first saw it in ‘life’ magazine in 1965 and was fascinated by its homage to ante-bellum structures while remaining ‘modern’; in 1966, it appeared in ‘house & garden’.

    the house remained the home of the wallaces until mrs wallace died recently, pre-deceased by her husband. i understand the property is now owned by a lady architect/interior designer who is doing needed maintenance while maintaining the vision of the architect and the clients; bravo!

    google, ‘wallace house, athens, al’ on the net, and one will find both informative text and wonderful images. while, regrettably, i haven’t seen the structure, maybe some of our correspondents herein have.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Wallace House in Athens is an interesting design. Because Paul Rudolph was not licenced to practice in Alabama, the Florence, Alabama firm of Barr & Tune was the architect of record. I believe that William Tune and Paul Rudolph went to Auburn together (they both went to Auburn and were close in age). Drawings for the Wallace House are, according to what I have been told, being hoarded in another Shoals area architect’s storage unit, along with all the rest of Barr & Tune’s drawings (both of whom are deceased and sold the firm before they passed). Of course, the Library of Congress presumably has any drawings or other information associated with the Wallace House, as that institution is where Rudolph donated his archives.

      Also on Ridgelawn Drive in Athens is the Guy Martin House, an earlier but similarly radical design by Rudolph. It was mentioned in Issue 11 of Nest: A Quarterly of Interiors, the greatest magazine ever published. Ridgelawn Drive is probably the only place where one can “see” two, unrelated Paul Rudolph designs on the same block. I put “see” in parentheses because you really cannot see either house from the street due to both houses retaining densely wooded lots and not falling victim to the treeless, country club lawn scourge currently en vogue.


      • i am not in the least surprised that mr white would give us some more info on the wallace house–and, now, another rudolph house on the same street! merci! so, two(although probably not ‘just two’) reasons to go to athens, al!

        and, yes, i know ‘nest’ but rarely see it… but, since mr white has declared it ‘the greatest magazine ever published’, maybe i can find it in rochester– certainly not here in lyons. and, probably not ‘free’ on the net.


  3. knew mr white would know something. yes, a really fine house.


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