Reading List: Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes

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December 11, 2013
Photographer Chris Mottalini pays homage to Paul Rudolph's architectural legacy by documenting his almost-demolished homes—and reminding us what we can't get back.
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  For his recently published book with Columbia College Chicago Press, photographer Chris Mottalini documented the demolition of three midcentury houses designed by architect Paul Rudolph. The first, which appears on the book cover, is the Micheels House (1972) in Westport, Connecticut. He writes about the image, "The damage in this photograph occurred when I was away from the house, having some lunch and waiting for the light to change. The vandalism was most likely in response to preservation efforts." Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    For his recently published book with Columbia College Chicago Press, photographer Chris Mottalini documented the demolition of three midcentury houses designed by architect Paul Rudolph. The first, which appears on the book cover, is the Micheels House (1972) in Westport, Connecticut. He writes about the image, "The damage in this photograph occurred when I was away from the house, having some lunch and waiting for the light to change. The vandalism was most likely in response to preservation efforts." Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  Mottalini points out the likely De Stijl influence on this home, which Rudolph designed for Dr. Louis Micheels, an Auschwitz survivor who grew up in Holland. Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    Mottalini points out the likely De Stijl influence on this home, which Rudolph designed for Dr. Louis Micheels, an Auschwitz survivor who grew up in Holland. Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  Built-ins and an open stair characterize the interiors of the 1972 Micheels residence by Paul Rudolph, which was torn down in 2007. Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    Built-ins and an open stair characterize the interiors of the 1972 Micheels residence by Paul Rudolph, which was torn down in 2007. Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  The exterior of the house is clad in stucco studded with arctic quartz gravel. Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    The exterior of the house is clad in stucco studded with arctic quartz gravel. Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  The 1956 Cerrito House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, was built in 1956 and demolished in 2007. Siblings Charlie and Marlene Cerrito—whose father hired Ralph Twitchell's firm, and by extension Paul Rudolph, to design the house—recall that the neighbors, who all owned Colonial mansions, hated the structure. "The house was alive," recalls Marlene Cerrito, "and we were part of the outdoors inside. Each night as I went to sleep I got to hear the sounds of the surf." Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    The 1956 Cerrito House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, was built in 1956 and demolished in 2007. Siblings Charlie and Marlene Cerrito—whose father hired Ralph Twitchell's firm, and by extension Paul Rudolph, to design the house—recall that the neighbors, who all owned Colonial mansions, hated the structure. "The house was alive," recalls Marlene Cerrito, "and we were part of the outdoors inside. Each night as I went to sleep I got to hear the sounds of the surf." Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  An example of Rudolph's trademark sun shades on the facade. Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    An example of Rudolph's trademark sun shades on the facade. Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  The Cerritos sold the house in 1969, and it eventually fell into repair with its next owners. By 2007, its current owners decided to bulldoze the home and build anew on the land. Charlie Cerrito says, "That house was a classic. It's just a shame that it ended up with that other piece of crap on it." Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    The Cerritos sold the house in 1969, and it eventually fell into repair with its next owners. By 2007, its current owners decided to bulldoze the home and build anew on the land. Charlie Cerrito says, "That house was a classic. It's just a shame that it ended up with that other piece of crap on it." Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  The Twitchell House in Siesta Key, Florida, was built in 1941 for Rudolph's boss, architect Ralph Twitchell. It was torn down in 2007. Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    The Twitchell House in Siesta Key, Florida, was built in 1941 for Rudolph's boss, architect Ralph Twitchell. It was torn down in 2007. Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  The house was located approximately fifty feet from the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in "substantial weather- and flood-related damage" over its sixty-six year life span. Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    The house was located approximately fifty feet from the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in "substantial weather- and flood-related damage" over its sixty-six year life span. Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  Twitchell was said to have hosted raucous parties in the main room of the house. Mottalini writes, "The home's final owner documented the house thoroughly and preserved its building materials, including many of the wooden beams and supports, with the intention of rebuilding it at some point in the future." Photo by Chris Mottalini.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    Twitchell was said to have hosted raucous parties in the main room of the house. Mottalini writes, "The home's final owner documented the house thoroughly and preserved its building materials, including many of the wooden beams and supports, with the intention of rebuilding it at some point in the future." Photo by Chris Mottalini.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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  However, nothing new has been built on the site yet. "It's as if the house never existed," writes Mottalini. Photo by Chris Mottalini. 

Purchase a copy of After You Left / They Took It Apart: Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes here.  Photo by: Chris Mottalini
    However, nothing new has been built on the site yet. "It's as if the house never existed," writes Mottalini. Photo by Chris Mottalini. Purchase a copy of After You Left / They Took It Apart: Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes here.

    Photo by: Chris Mottalini

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