In honor of Paul Rudolph's 99th birthday, it's a brutal midMOD monday with his Endo Pharmaceuticals Building.
Located near Garden City, Long Island, the Endo Pharmaceuticals Building is one of Paul Rudolph's (1918-1997) most successful concrete experiments. A long, craggy, and sinuous fortress, the laboratory structure successfully translates the technical requirements of a manufacturing and research center into a landmark piece of modern architecture. Completed in 1964, the original complex (Rudolph designed a second building in 1967) is strategically situated on a bluff overlooking the Meadowbrook Parkway and appears on the Long Island landscape like a medieval castle with a series of turrets undulating along the facade. Clad in Rudolph's signature corduroy-like concrete (the same concrete developed for the Yale Art and Architecture Building), the three-story brutalist facility stretches across its 8-acre site in a horizontal rhythm of cylinders, ramps, and rounded concrete forms. Much like Le Corbusier at Chandigarh, Rudolph capitalized on the sculptural potential of concrete to create a highly crafted and disruptive architectural expression.
Breaking out of the usual boxlike factory mold, the interior of Endo Laboratories is divided according to use with production tasks delegated to the lower and middle floors and offices and a cafeteria located on the upper floor overlooking a planted roof garden. Stairs, vents, and mechanical systems are confined to the hollow cylindrical turrets along the edges of the building, allowing for large, uninterrupted interior spaces and a dramatic curving reception area. Blending function and form, Rudolph designed a complex that addressed his client's needs while still appealing to the viewer's senses.
A vital, textured piece of sculpture, the Endo Pharmaceuticals Building is a fearless concrete statement in direct contrast to the monotonous modernist glass and steel commercial facilities typical of the period. Aside from an obvious debt to the work of Le Corbusier, the curvilinear, sculptural forms of Rudolph's Endo Laboratories also recalls (at least for me) Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Building with its devotion to circular vocabulary and efficient spatial planning. Confident in form and conducive to its function, the Endo facility, much like the Johnson Wax Building, is an iconic piece of corporate architecture, a symbol of mid-twentieth-century efficiency and innovation and a daring and dynamic Rudolphian icon.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Rudolph!
Image at top:
Paul Rudolph, architect. [Endo Laboratories, Garden City, Long Island, New York. Turrets] Garden City, New York, ca. 1965. Photograph. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, 2008680896.
This architectural historian cannot stop thinking about buildings, food, and that vintage rug she found online.