The architect to whom one cannot remain indifferent

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The architect to whom one cannot remain indifferent
Paul Rudolph stood before the Yale University arts complex, circa 1963.
The architect to whom one cannot remain indifferent
Paul Rudolph stood before the Yale University arts complex, circa 1963.

Rudolph, who has several signature buildings in the Boston area, seems to be breaking out all over. “Rudolph’s legacy . . . has come roaring back in the last several years,” Mike Singer argues in the American Institute of Architects’s journal AIArchitect, adding: “A new generation of architects and design enthusiasts are paying homage to Rudolph in both word and deed.”

University of Massachusetts professor Timothy Rohan has just published a book about Rudolph, celebrating some of the architect’s most controversial work. Writing in the Globe last fall, Rohan did his best to praise Rudolph’s forbidding concrete fortress, Government Center, which squats atop the north side of Beacon Hill, between Cambridge and Merrimac streets.

“Though troubled, Government Center has the quality of being genuinely public,” Rohan wrote, “and its buildings, maligned as they are, are also deeply considered achievements that hold their own keys to enhancing Boston’s public life.”

In Goshen, N.Y., preservationists are struggling to save a similar Rudolph “masterpiece” from its enemies. The Orange County Government Center is on the World Monuments Fund’s Global Watch List, but, like so much of Rudolph’s institutional, formed-concrete brutalist work, its detractors are legion.

You be the judge. Although Rudolph became a globe-trotting starchitect, many of his most famous buildings are here for the viewing. There is the aforementioned Government Center, and his famous Blue Cross-Blue Shield building, temporarily saved from the wrecking ball on Federal Street. Rudolph rebuilt and modernized the oldest church in Boston, the Unitarian-Universalist First Church on the corner of Berkeley and Marlborough streets in the Back Bay. ….

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