Paul Rudolph threatened with demolition: when I see #&*! like this I just want to give up.


What a gorgeous building.  Scroll down in the article for renderings of the turd proposed to replace it.

Mar 9, 12 4:25 pm

Perhaps one of the best examples of brutalism....Every week, it seems I am reminded just how vulnerable great Architecture is.

Mar 9, 12 4:51 pm  · 

Don't get me wrong the building is a beautiful, sculptural piece. I like it, always have.  But is doesn't perform it's function well and never has. 

That building was WAY over budget to begin with. Has had maintenance problems too numerous and expensive to mention (serious roofing /leaking issues to begin with) costing taxpayers millions of dollars for decades.   Function was certainly given a back seat to form as many of the functions that are necessary to the building are broken up, divided and awkwardly planned.  Security is difficult. Accessibility was an issue. Over the years so much of the building has been bastardized (modified)  just to make it function that I am not sure there's even enough original Rudolph  left to save. 

You will find little support amongst locals to save it. Although it doesn't mean you ought to lower the standards in what you replace it with. 

I am not surprised to hear that  his Elementary school in the area it has been torn down.   It just didn't work as well IRL that they thought it would. And It was also another money pit. 

Sad, but not at all surprised. 

Mar 9, 12 5:32 pm  · 


Mar 9, 12 5:34 pm  · 
Dani Zoe

oye... i think i'm getting sick :-(

Mar 9, 12 6:04 pm  · 
go do it

that is to bad but buildings have to work.

i remember a story about a bart prince house. after the clients moved in they realized there was not enough closet space so some columns in the living room that separated large windows  had to be sliced and diced to make 5 or 6 small closets.

moral of the story: don't forget the closets!!

i.e. buildings have to work 

Mar 9, 12 6:43 pm  · 

looking back at diana (county exec that is ready to bulldoze) a number of his campaign contributors have been construction companies and related business (including HDR architects... hmmm)

also, it's far from surprising that the 'federalist-style' abortion is being pushed for by a republican...

Mar 9, 12 7:10 pm  · 
drums please, Fab?

republicans just hate 'progressive' architecture, don't they?

Mar 9, 12 8:44 pm  · 

I get that it's not functioning perfectly and has ongoing maintenance costs.  But we pay to maintain and protect the Mona Lisa, yes? And agree that it's not overly expensive for what an important cultural artifact it is?  I'm not saying this building is architecture's Mona Lisa, but somehow architecture has a hard time getting the same respect as some pieces of art.

Which is why that utter turd of a colonialish tickytack dropping is such a slap in the face.  If the Rudolph was being replaced by a BIG or a HdM project (fine, with a non-leaking roof, for heaven's sake this is such a tired trope as a criticism of architecture) it would be less painful.

Mar 9, 12 11:21 pm  · 

There should be an "Occupy Rudolph." I'd be totally down if I lived in the area.

Mar 9, 12 11:57 pm  · 

take note, Eisenman....youre next


Mar 10, 12 12:55 am  · 

i like how the neo-clastiche proposal has a classically inspired parking lot.  very in keeping with the colonial past. 

wonder how rudolph every got to build at all.  there must have been a window of opportunity there when it was possible and now its closed.  standards sure have dropped a lot too since he was building.  is vision dead in america?

Mar 10, 12 7:15 am  · 

i know people who worked on that building and they always knew the roofs would leak - can't remember why though - bad flashing details.

fyi/btw... John M. Johansen's - mummers theaters  (now- "stage center")  in oklahoma city future is being threatened. aia central oklahoma has put out an rfp for re-purposing after years of neglect and many tries at new owners and tenants.  the building at least for now is not being torn down.

Mar 10, 12 10:13 am  · 

That is a shame.


I get that buildings have to work, but my God, could they propose anything more banal??  I agree that it would be easier to stomach if it was being replaced by something with integrity (though I am not, personally, a fan of BIG - their marketing/promotional skills are second to none, architecture, not so much).

I don't know how the "architects" that designed those buildings could propose that crap with a straight face, or sleep at night. 

Mar 10, 12 10:42 am  · 

I get that buildings have to work, but my God, could they propose anything more banal??  I agree that it would be easier to stomach if it was being replaced by something with integrity (though I am not, personally, a fan of BIG - their marketing/promotional skills are second to none, architecture, not so much).

Except for the slight dig at BIG, I agree with this. New York is kind of a leader in contemporary architecture even if it is mostly the bland international style. And the area around the government building is pretty ripe with historic, even if pastiche, architecture.

You'd think something something more appropriate here would be a Phillip-Johnson-meets-SANAA glass box that wouldn't necessarily impose stylistically on the environment while giving that sense of transparency and allowing the government workers to visibly see the landscape they are in change of.

Perhaps move the parking down subterranean to first level, an extremely elevated premier étage and offices on the 2-5th floors?

Mar 10, 12 11:11 am  · 

wow, this is sad.

@miesian hahah, awesome. i'm totally down for an #occupyrudolph

Mar 10, 12 11:12 am  · 

I'm in for an occupy Rudolph!

I was first in that building as a very young tween and I fell in love with the journey you could have inside. Tiny low ceiling corridors open up into tall spaces. 12' tall doors. Narrow spaces then big spaces. Feeling small than big and so on. It was like "Alice in wonderland" for a kid to wander thru there.  

@ Randy1 I have a former professor who was an intern for Rudolph when he did that building. He had some great stories. 



Mar 10, 12 12:02 pm  · 

Donna: "architecture has a hard time getting the same respect as some pieces of art" - yes, I agree. For better or worse, buildings have the unfortunate requirement of being "lived in" - not just "looked at".

While I've always admired (from a distance) the buidling in question, I think this situation brings into fairly sharp relief one of the major reasons our profession gets so little respect from the general public. Once again, a building design that's primarily about "form" fails miserably along the "function" dimension. Non-architects will have a much higher tolerance for what we call "good design" when the roof doesn't leak and the spaces actually serve the intended purpose.

Mar 10, 12 12:29 pm  · 

i doubt it. roof leaks are fixable and functionality can be addressed, if the caretakers are motivated to make it work. if, however, the users don't like the building, it will continue to decline and be maligned. they need to move on - get the building in the hands of folks who will be good stewards because they know they've got something irreplaceable.

Mar 10, 12 9:05 pm  · 
go do it

i didn't mean to imply that the building should be torn down. on the contrary every effort should be made to refurbish and save it. not only from an architectural preservation stance but more importantly from a save the planet, reduced carbon objective. and any way would not saving and  refurbishing be cheaper.  somebody's hand is in somebody's pocket 

the best way to reduce carbon is through building reuse. the following quotes are from

this study in the executive summary

"For those concerned with climate change and other environmental impacts,
reusing an existing building and upgrading it to maximum efficiency is almost
always the best option regardless of building type and climate. Most climate
scientists agree that action in the immediate timeframe is crucial to stave off
the worst impacts of climate change. Reusing existing buildings can offer an
important means of avoiding unnecessary carbon outlays and help communities
achieve their carbon reduction goals in the near term."

"This study finds that it takes 10 to 80
years for a new building that is 30 percent more efficient than an average-performing existing building to overcome, through efficient operations, the negative climate change impacts related to the construction process."

Mar 10, 12 10:03 pm  · 
Justin Ather Maud

Wonder if the steel roof trusses will also be "colonial?"

Mar 11, 12 10:18 am  · 

i love this building. i'll say that up front before saying... stewart brand's 'how buildings learn', brand puts forward that job 1 of architecture is to make a building that people love - that they want to keep. if that is done well, then it doesn't matter if it functions well, because functions can change. he went so far as to argue that a really good shell (a 'generic' building, in his words), can not only be recycled but be *worth* recycling forever if it's something people love.

the liability of brutalism in general is that it's always been hard for the general public to love. this building by rudolph should have fared better, imo, because it's more uniquely figural and fun, less heavy and abstract than many examples of the period. 

the challenge is to build a case for how the building can become loved by the community. is there something in orange co to which it can be tied, or something orange co is missing for which it can be the symbol? make it a landmark not just of architecture but of the community. i don't know what this would mean, having never been to orange co, but someone might. 

Mar 12, 12 7:22 am  · 

definitely a stigma to overcome.

Mar 12, 12 8:51 am  · 

So I wonder if that proposed Colonial-box-turd will become beloved by the community and seen as a part of their shared cultural history?



I do agree that needing space for courts badly enough means that any new building to house that function would be seen as very welcome.   But knocking down the Rudolph to gain more space seems like tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

Mar 12, 12 11:31 am  · 

the replacement building proposed certainly would not become beloved, i'd guess. it's benchmark is lower: not architecture but "architectural services". 

check out the roof plan of the rudolph building. knowing what we know now, this could certainly be made more reasonable without compromising the building's integrity?,+goshen+ny&hl=en&ll=41.406509,-74.31706&spn=0.0027,0.003417&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=46.409192,55.986328&hq=orange+county+government+center,&hnear=Goshen,+Orange,+New+York&t=h&fll=41.406513,-74.318178&fspn=0.00135,0.00273&z=18

Mar 12, 12 12:56 pm  · 

People are stupid, and easily entertained....the colonial box turd could very well become a beloved disgrace to the landscape. They will look at it, and feel like they understand it, since it is being dumbed down to appeal to the masses.

Mar 12, 12 12:58 pm  · 

the problem, kevin, is that the people-are-stupid path only loses support for good architecture. i've never seen it work the other way.

Mar 12, 12 2:52 pm  · 
 · doubt the planning commission and department strongly encourage the "designer" to take a traditional path. They are obsessed with the notion that anything reflecting today, will ruin the "historic fabric" of the community. So, with that mindset...we get everyplace looking the same...everywhere. Year after year, the results reflect that concept, and potential to create something truely contemporary and unique is discouraged. When Architects stop caving, and start making efforts to educate the commissions and the public, maybe things will change a bit...but until then...

Mar 12, 12 3:04 pm  · 

Realizing that people are stupid, and telling them they are stupid are two different things.

Mar 12, 12 3:08 pm  · 

"When Architects stop caving, and start making efforts to educate the commissions and the public, maybe things will change a bit...but until then..."

Rudolph didn't "cave" and he "educated the public" by providing the citizens of Orange County with a building that functioned poorly relative to their needs and that became a lingering maintenance money pit. This development is the logical result, in my view.

Adopting a "People are stupid" attitude further reinforces the widespread public opinion that architects are arrogant, elitist and concerned only with designing a monument to their own egos.

Mar 12, 12 3:14 pm  · 

I'm getting tired of this whole arrogant Architect rant...maybe if there was a bit more honest arrogance and standing up for something better, the landscape wouldnt be littered with so many faux colonial, faux anythings with foam freaking cornices...I am referring to the grand scale of things, not so much one Rudolph building.  

Mar 12, 12 3:30 pm  · 

am I the only one who thinks the new design isn't that horrible?  it does look a little like an old mill building mated with a high school... and the renderings aren't helping... but I don't think it's going to be as awful as people are making it out to be.  as long as those chimneys go to functioning fireplaces then I don't really have a problem with it.


and looking at that rudolph building, I'm not sure what they could save.  if it were a concrete industrial building it might be salvageable, but if the structure is as irregular as the facade, then I'm guessing it would be far too much trouble...

Mar 12, 12 3:32 pm  · 

great post, file.


I think that the building is really ugly.  And it looks like it must have leaked from the moment it was completed.  Also, I suspect that it must have been super unresponsive to site and climate, but I've never been there so I don't really know.  The side facade has almost no windows at all, despite what looks like lots of open space adjoining the building.  So I can only presume that the reason it has no windows on that facade is that windows didn't fit in with the abstract composition of "staked-up square tubes". 


I vote to keep it for now, because what they have planned to replace it with looks like it is  much worse.  But that's faint praise.  Let Occupy occupy it.  :)

Mar 12, 12 3:32 pm  · 

There's a huge difference between "arrogance' and "standing up for something better".

I think where Kevin and I primarily differ is not the objective, but the process. My view is that our predominant attitude (i.e. "we" know better than "you" what you need) has conditioned the public to profoundly mistrust our aims, leaving the public with little incentive to embrace anything much beyond what they already understand and find comfortable.

Mar 12, 12 3:42 pm  · 

file - completely agreed.  and we treat each other like this too.  I really don't enjoy being berated for not knowing all the manufacturers of peel and stick flashing or the exact proportions of some random aalto building (or worse, that I'd never heard of that particular aalto building)...  or whether or not jeans are "business casual."   Who f-ing cares?

Mar 12, 12 3:56 pm  · 

A small village named after a biblical town wants to tear down their aggressive-progressive masterpiece and replace it with a barn?

Color me shocked. 

Mar 12, 12 4:06 pm  · 

rudolph wasn't arrogant, from all accounts, though he was somewhat prickly. this project, however, was built during a rare time when his office had a lot of freedom and had developed a particular way of doing things. whoever the client was *wanted* what rudolph did.  

the people who want to get rid of this building now aren't stupid. they've had a particular set of experiences with this building that has made it a burden. some will be sympathetic as they learn more about rudolph's importance and the uniqueness of this project even within his work. some won't, because the building remains a burden - and an expensive one - and will be difficult to make less of a burden. 

to toaster's question, the structure is actually not too problematic. it looks like the building could be opened up and reconfigured based on the column grid and what looks like poured vs partition walls. 

if this building will have a future, it will need to be because someone can show the county government how it *should* have a future. i think this is do-able! i hope they have architects with some interest in making that happen, instead of architects like those the grosse pointe library had who had a vested interest in demolition. 

i don't, right now, see why this shouldn't be a very exciting and innovative renovation - transforming the building to meet contemporary needs. 

Mar 12, 12 4:15 pm  · 

Re:file and toasteroven comments:

I believe that if the architects want people to like their work and build more of it, then they must engage the public in a dialogue, and teach them why their work is valid, and why they should want their building to look that way. And I believe that part of that dialogue, that collaboration, needs to be taking the public's taste seriously, and trying to understand and address why the public likes certain work and dislikes other work. Simply deciding that the public is stupid and therefore we must ram our latest fancy down their throats for their own good is not a healthy or sustainable approach.

Mar 12, 12 4:25 pm  · 

@SW get the building in the hands of folks who will be good stewards because they know they've got something irreplaceable.


this is difficult with the demographics of that part of upstate NY.  if it were on the hudson then I think there would be an interest in turning it into something rather than tearing it down... but if a place is primarily interested in protecting its "heritage" it's going to be a hard sell.

Mar 12, 12 4:47 pm  · 

This isn't going to be like the breuer library in gross pointe.

Mar 12, 12 4:54 pm  · 

@ Steven Ward

Your post is very observant and spot on

"it looks like the building could be opened up and reconfigured based on the column grid and what looks like poured vs partition walls. "  

So much of the beauty in this building is not the outside. It was the set of experiences that were set up inside. Rudolph thought about space and manipulated space so that a person coming to the building would have an experience. The person could feel the spaces as the spaces changed as they went through them. The occupant would be in small spaces, large spaces, light spaces, and dark spaces. This is the first building that made me actually realize the spatial relationships between buildings and people, long before I had ever even thought of being an Architect. The first building to make me realize that buildings could be more than just  shelter. Unfortunately due to user needs and ADA issues I am sure some of that is already gone or altered. It makes me very sad. 

If someone were to repurpose this building I would love to see it restored to the way it was ( as much as legally allowed with today's codes)  as it was a great spatial experience. Rudolph was much more thoughtful with interior spaces as experiences or art of spatial relationships (if not functionality) than many give him credit for.

Mar 12, 12 8:18 pm  · 

it is easier to get rid of significant buildings in poor black neighborhoods..

Mar 12, 12 11:00 pm  · 

@DAS99 love that image!

Mar 13, 12 10:04 am  · 

orhan, while colbert was never as international a figure as rudolph, the wheatley was definitely a huge loss. as a former new orleanian, i tried to support the protection effort from a distance.

there was actually a pretty strong and organized effort - it definitely wasn't forgotten or under-prioritized because of its neighborhood!

as i understand it, the problem was more an issue of an under-capitalized preservation effort against a huge pool of money that new orleans' school district was able to secure for school replacements after hurricane katrina. 


Mar 13, 12 10:57 am  · 

regarding whether the ocgc could be another grosse point/mapa project (as was suggested elsewhere):

i'm not really trying to campaign for another such effort, primarily because i know that i couldn't participate. such an effort would need to be instigated by those who can do the heavy lifting.

i also don't think that kind of effort would be as meaningful as it was with the breuer library. it would be cool if some design folks could show the community the potential for the ocgc, but this project is much larger and more complicated than the library was. the really hard work would be in fully understanding the center, its potential, and how to implement it.  *i.e., time and commitment.

its best hope is for a sympathetic firm with real preservation skills to be engaged - an east coast version of marmol radziner, for example. marmol radziner's revitalizations of l.a. neutras and other notable structures are wonderful. and they're pretty good at honoring the original while adapting it to contemporary life - exactly what ocgc needs.

Mar 13, 12 12:21 pm  · 

Phillis Wheatley Elementary School didn't get much attention here.


Mar 13, 12 12:46 pm  · 

Wouldn't a sound historical preservation practice be to preserve historical practices?

It seems to me, prior to the 20th-century, when a building falls down, catches fire or is torn down, a variation of a building is put into place— e.g., how barns have progressed through the centuries.

There's obviously stylistic exceptions to this, the Forbidden City set ablaze in 1644, Paris partially demolished in 1665-1708 for the Grands Boulevards and again in 1853-1870 under Haussmann and London's Great Fire of 1666— but whether intentional or accidental destruction of large portions of these cities, they were rebuilt.

The development of architectural archtypes relies on this sort of practice— that's how churches, barns, houses and hospitals get their familiar shapes.

So, why can't the building be fully or partially demolished with a variation put in place?


Mar 13, 12 1:51 pm  · 

the general fabric of the city gets built up, torn down, modified, burned, collapses, gets built again, etc.   sure. 

but parallel to that, we've always kept and protected those things we value. it's why the stonehenge and the hagia sofia sites haven't been redeveloped and why dresden's frauenkirche was rebuilt.

which always, of course, triggers arguments about who *we* are and which are the things we value.

Mar 14, 12 7:22 am  · 

Actually the Hagia Sofia has been rebuilt 3 times and renovated at least four— it started out as the Great Church in the 4th-century, was burned down in the beginning of the 5th-century, was rebuilt in the 5th-century and burned down again in the 6th-century and the church as we see it now was started in the 6th-century.

However, by the end of the 6th-century, much of the original third structure had collapsed from earthquake damage and the design was changed. It burned down and then partially collapsed again in the 9th-century.

Between the 6th- and 9th-century, however, most of the original artwork was stripped down during that whole iconoclast period of the Byzantine empire.

I'm sure I don't need to get into the half dozen or more times the Hagia Sophia has been rebuilt, remodeled, renovated or altered because of war, cultural drift, rioting or earthquakes.

The point I was making is that many of these historic architectural masterpieces we're now preserving indefinitely, as if they were stuck in some sort of time machine, were not historically preserved this way.

Mar 14, 12 9:57 am  · 

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: