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  • Writer's pictureSusan Van Meter

Paul Rudolph - Glam Mid Century Designer & Architect

I first learned of Paul Rudolph when I moved to Florida from London. Big change, I know! I've always loved modern architecture, and Sarasota was one of our favourite destinations. So, I signed up for a mid-century modern tour when we were down there. We went to a couple of Paul Rudolph buildings - I was hooked.

Rudolph was one of the leading architects in America in the 50s & 60s. Best known, but not universally beloved, for his Brutalist public works in concrete. He moved to Sarasota, Florida and partnered with Ralph Twitchell for four years until he started his own practice in 1951. This part of Rudolph's life was known as Sarasota Modern.


The importance of pushing the boundaries is something that is taught as one of the fundamental rules of architecture when taking an introduction design course. It's the idea that your architectural concept should be so thoroughly thought out and executed that the design rules and logic are so apparent that they can be understood by anyone at first sight - even the layman.

Paul Rudolph certainly understood, without a doubt, how to successfully design a building that could be read for what it was conceived to be. He pushed the envelope. He is known for his intensity and his consistent use of complex floor plans and rigid modular organizational system.

Sarasota Modern

The florida homes are one of the original and shining examples of minimalist design that many aspire to today. These designs have as little doors, walls, or even furniture as possible. Rudolph utilized built-in storage, ceiling heights and floor levels that varied to create spaces both cozy and dramatic.

Seen here at the Cohen House, Sarasota. The sunken lounge area called a conversation pit - genius. Some of the photos were taken by me on the tour, so aren't the best!

Interior Design

And now for the iconic glam stuff. Rudolph had an apartment in Beekman House, Manhattan. It's glam and a bit glitzy, but filled with detail. Checkout the ceiling: reverse conversation pits, the plates recessed into the walls, the glassy ceiling and wall surfaces, all very Hollywood glamour, with a modern twist, and, the colours...

There's a lot of inspiration to be found here if you're thinking about taking some of the details and interpreting them into a contemporary interior space. 

Photo credits: Susan Van Meter and Pinterest.

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