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Touring Paul Rudolph Hall

mas tour group street aerialLast Friday, 30-odd MAS tour-takers boarded a train at Grand Central bound for New Haven. In two hours, the group of us were standing outside of Kahn’s Yale University Art Gallery, across the street from one of the most controversial buildings ever erected. What was formerly known as Yale’s School of Art and Architecture is hand-battered concrete, a Brutalist design that was so disliked in the 1960s that many assumed the 1969 fire was arson (it wasn’t). Now the building has been restored and rehabilitated and renamed for Paul Rudolph. A comprehensive book on Rudolph has yet to be written, but the building is an exhilarating illustration of his ability to visualize, and to manipulate space. We walked over Rudolph’s bridge across the review space while students were their having crits below, arrayed across the paprika-colored carpet (the same shade as the original). We walked through the studios and visited the library, which is filled with natural light, but focused inward to encourage studying. The school isn’t just about a modernist past. The basement shop has the most sophisticated digital model-making equipment of any architectural school in the country and is open to students 24 hours a day. And unlike most schools in New York, Yale welcomes visitors into the library and other public areas of Paul Rudolph Hall. All aboard.