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Paul Rudolph Walker House

Walker Residence, Sanibel Island, Florida
Paul Rudolph (1918-1997)

This perspective rendering for a Florida vacation house completed in 1953 by Paul Rudolph represents a radical and influential change both in how buildings were conceived and in how they were represented. Its forms, reduced to a bare modernist vocabulary of foundation elements, stilt-like supports, window walls, and partitions between openly visible living spaces, define the architecturally adventurous spirit of post-WWII America. Rudolph's Walker Residence, one of the first the architect developed on his own, both opens out to its natural setting and embraces natural elements, including the tree around which it has been built. Houses like this one helped launch Rudolph's career, which included commercial, cultural, civic, and urban structures conceived and built through the 1990s.

Two bays on each side of this guest cottage are filled with pivoting panels which function as 1) the enclosing wall, 2) the ventilating element, 3) the shading device, and 4) the hurricane shelter. The third bay is filled with glass, to admit light and [provide] splendid views. When the panels are closed, the pavilion is snug and cave-like. When open, the space psychologically changes, and one is virtually in the landscape.