08 April 2013
Recently I was in Auburn, Alabama. All those years of living in Alabama and I never once set foot in Auburn. Visiting a couple of Paul Rudolph houses was among my many adventures.
I was reminded of this while watching the documentary Ultrasuede: In Search of Halston. Halston lived in a rather famous Paul Rudolph house in the middle of Manhattan.
In Auburn, a Rudolph house is on the market. Built in the late 1930's, it is a student work by Rudolph. The house has quirky elements of what would become Rudolph's modernist style, while remaining a little brick house in Alabama.
The other house we saw was the old Applebee house, designed for Frank Applebee, the Chair of the Art and Architecture Department. Rudolph designed the house as a gift to Applebee, working to keep the building costs to a minimum. Frankly, I have never been a big fan of minimalist architecture. The Applebee house looks like a big old double-wide sitting atop concrete blocks, but what do I know. It might look better if I had taken better photos!
Unfortunately, like much architecture, Paul Rudolph houses have faced more wrecking balls than preservation in recent years. Photographer Chris Mottalini did a wonderful exhibition of photographs entitled, After You Left, They Took It Apart. Ironically, the Rudolph student house was purchased to be gutted and flipped. When the flippers girlfriend saw the inside, she immediately called the Auburn art department and the gutting turned into a careful renovation.
Alas, the house remains on the market.