Sunday, Sep. 07, 2008

Yale Art and Architecture Building

Think Yale and you might picture Gothic Revival. Think again: it also has some of the greatest Modernist buildings. A few years ago the school beautifully refurbished one of the most important, Louis Kahn's Yale University Art Gallery. This fall it's the turn of Paul Rudolph's Art & Architecture Building, from 1963, now linked to a new addition by Charles Gwathmey. Rudolph, who once chaired Yale's architecture department, brought weight into the Modernist equation and made it play with emptiness. His best buildings are a constant game of solid and void, volume and plane. Because he often worked with big expanses of concrete, frequently ribbed to give it surface texture, much of his work gets classified as Brutalism, which makes it sound forbidding. Not so. Rudolph was a Brutalist with an intricate sensibility. This fall his building will be rededicated as Paul Rudolph Hall.