January 24, 2007
Another significant Modernist house has ended up in a landfill: a 4,200-square-foot house in Westport, Connecticut, designed by Paul Rudolph in 1972. Demolition took place January 13 following a fervent yet rather brief attempt by preservationists and the Connecticut attorney general to block the action. The three-level building, with cantilevered volumes extending horizontally from the main core, exhibited a more subtle aesthetic approach than the Brutalist style Rudolph had deployed in his iconic Yale Art and Architecture Building nine years earlier.
The house, on acreage in one of the town’s costliest enclaves, was commissioned by Dr. and Mrs. Louis Michaels and was in the process of being sold to Yvette Waldman, wife of local developer David Waldman. Among Waldman’s most recent projects is the renovation of the former Westport Bank and Trust building into a retail and dining venue. While Waldman was able to have that building named a national historic property to ensure its architectural protection, he stated that he saw no such design significance in the Paul Rudolph house.
Attorney general Richard Blumenthal’s attempt to obtain a restraining order against the demolition failed on January 12, and razing began the following morning. Waldman, for his part, has said that he will “continue to do good things to preserve Westport’s history,” and will donate the original architectural plans for the house to the Paul Rudolph Foundation in New York.