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Lecture: “Model City: Buildings and projects by Paul Rudolph for Yale and New Haven,”

Timothy Rohan, Kluge Fellow

December 16, 2008, 12:00 Noon (Whittall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building)
This event is free and open to the public; no reservations or tickets are required.

In this lecture, Timothy M. Rohan from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst discusses the exhibition he curated, “Model City: Buildings and Projects by Paul Rudolph for Yale and New Haven”, which draws upon works from the Paul Rudolph Archive in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

Paul Rudolph (1918-1997) was one of the most innovative American architects of the post-World War II period. The exhibition situates thirteen works for Yale and New Haven by Rudolph in the context of postwar modernism, urban renewal, and their aftermath. The exhibition was timed to coincide with the restoration of Rudolph’s best-known structure, the Yale Art and Architecture Building (1958-1963, and rededicated as Rudolph Hall).

Though often seen in the past as self-indulgent, singular demonstrations of the architect’s virtuosity, works such as the Art and Architecture Building are discussed here as belonging to a series of carefully considered and situated experiments in urbanism made possible by committed patronage. During the 1950s and 1960s, New Haven Mayor Richard C. Lee enlisted important Modernist architects such as Rudolph to remake the city into a nationally recognized laboratory for urban renewal that came to be known as the “Model City.” At the same time, Yale president A. Whitney Griswold transformed the university’s campus into a “museum of Modern architecture” with buildings designed by leading architects of the time, including Rudolph. As chairman of Yale’s department of architecture (1958-1965), Rudolph found many opportunities to test his ideas of structural expression, monumentality, urbanism, and pre-fabrication in projects for the campus and city. At a time when demolition was the preferred tool for redevelopment, Rudolph’s regard for existing structures and the traditional forms of the city distinguished his urbanism from the efforts of most of his contemporaries. Rohan believes that Rudolph’s thinking about how buildings could grow and evolve over time is increasingly relevant.

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