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What in your opinion, are three of some of the greatest works of modern architecture and why?


John Peter:

What in your opinion, are three of some of the greatest works of modern architecture and why?

Paul Rudolph:

I feel the Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoie [Poissy, France, 1929] demonstrated the sense of continuity of space, the unfolding space, in an admirable way. It also stated eloquently Le Corbusier’s feeling about man’s relationship to nature, which has proved to be prophetic.

What is an architect?


John Peter:

What is an architect?

Paul Rudolph:

Rudolph on his encounters with Frank Lloyd Wright

“I was a visiting critic at Princeton and for reasons that I don't remember, maybe I never knew, he was at Princeton and was brought into the drafting room where I was. We were introduced and he said, "And what are you doing here?" I said, "Well, I'm trying to teach a bit." He said, "Only prostitutes teach." I think that was the extent of that conversation. Another time he was at Philip Johnson's house, uninvited, unexpected, one Sunday morning. I happened to be a guest there. He and Philip put on a great show for us.

On the Potential of Pre-Cast Concrete

"If one were to make a prognostication, again, one would say that the aesthetics of pre-cast reinforced concrete will lead us to an architecture which depends on the play of light and shadow, as opposed to the architecture which depends basically, for its aesthetic values, on reflections which come from a curtain wall. This does not mean to say that the curtain wall is no longer meaningful as a dress for the steel cage. It does have meaning. But it’s just that it’s not the only way to do it.

Sir Norman Foster on Paul Rudolph


"Many of these drawings, especially the perspective sections, would encapsulate in a single image the range of Rudolph’s concerns as an architect. There was his quest to define and model space with light and planar surfaces – his interest in climate and the relationship between structure and services – his explorations into modularity and the potential of prefabrication – a later interest in high-density urban megastructures.

On color in architecture


On skyscrapers from an interview primarily about the City Center Towers in Fort Worth, TX.


“I have been influenced by the fact that people perceive the first six stories (or 120 feet) of a high-rise building in a very different way from the rest of it. I came to that 120 feet because it has been shown (and I tested this myself) that most people can’t recognize other people from more than 120 feet. So what happens higher than this matters only as seen from a great distance. Therefore, you can argue that above 120 feet, the high-rise tower can be scale less, but below this level, the building must achieve a human scale.”

On the Tuskegee Chapel

“When working on the Tuskegee Chapel, I suggested a continuous slot of glass around the perimeter just below the roof, so the natural light enters the sanctuary diagonally. The roof is hyperbolic paraboloid in form for acoustic reasons, and the space rises diagonally and escapes through glass. The directions of the movement of space are in opposite but balanced directions, which is largely responsible for the dynamic quality of the space. In addition, there is a varying velocity of the movement of space.

On his firing from SMTI / UMass Dartmouth in 1966

“Yes, I was fired. But in a sense, my influence and efforts did not change that drastically -- not at first anyway -- because the other architects -- and I have to emphasize that there were many architects involved -- understood that there was a pervading idea, series of ideas, welding the campus into one, and that it needed to be an ongoing effort, so the other architects actually came to my rescue, otherwise it would not have worked.

What is scale?

“The usual definition of scale is the relationship of the human dimension to the environment. We talk about a building being “in scale” or “out of scale,” which is really nonsense. Most buildings that really count have multiple scales. Buildings need to be understandable in their varying dimensions – sight, sound, smell, relationship to their environment, their spot on the globe, materials, climate, the mode of approaching, modes of movement (i.e., walking, automobile, train, subway, bus, plane), etc.


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