Text description provided by the architects. A remarkable architect not only designs on one scale, but can shift between residential and large-scale buildings while maintaining a distinct style or set of techniques to link them all together.
The houses of Paul Rudolph have withstood the tests of time, both in the physical sense and in their ability to be greatly appreciated and admired even as architectural styles evolve. His residences are marked by his explorative uses of structure and inventive building techniques.
Fort Worth, Texas holds one of the few houses built by Rudolph outside of Florida. The Bass Residence of the early 1970s is evidence of his attempts to fuse a new and old architecture style “whose richness came not from applied ornament but from spatial complexities developed from structure and the three dimensional elaboration of the program.”
The Bass Residence marks the most ambitious housing project of Rudolph, and the intensity of overlapping horizontal volumes and pronounced cantilevers show his rigor in designing a cohesive unit whose ideas can be read and comprehended by any architect or unstudied person alike.
An accomplished international architect whose buildings ranged from smaller residences to large-scale housing units and public centers, Paul Rudolph was sure to leave an impact in the field of design.
After graduating from the Alabama Polytechnique Institute in Auburn, Rudolph made the decision to further pursue his career at Harvard University under the infamous Walter Gropius.
He excelled in his studies and became known for his architectural style, which seemed to be a fusion of his inventive design ideas and ambitions with other architects of his time, mostly Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn and Mies Van Der Rohe.
Commissioned by Anne and Sid Bass in 1970, the residence was designed to accommodate a complex spatial program as well as a spacious contemporary-art gallery. These overlapping volumes lined with white enameled steel frames wrap around the courtyard space, which becomes the center of the pinwheel plan.
The design creates the illusion that the house is composed of a series of levitating volumes and planes with the addition of less obvious and enclosing vertical pieces, like floor-to-ceiling glass and white porcelain-enameled aluminum panels.
One of the only bulky vertical component and perhaps the most visible is the wall that marks the corner of the internal garden, a perfectly situated contrast to the flowing horizontal slabs.
Although there are four main stories, the Bass Residence is really a compilation of twelve levels of living spaces in varying dimensions.
The courtyard opens up to reveal a garden view, designed by Robert Zion and Russell Page, with the intentions of developing the property beyond the house’s immediate surroundings and complementing the design of the house. Purposely built amongst the trees on the hillside of Fort Worth, Texas, the natural environment and green trees and grass also connected to the garden and formed a more expansive natural setting.
The entrance can be found at the upper level of the house, accessible from the driveway that extended from the east side of the house. The main living areas and main lounge are cantilevered over the steeply sloping site, projecting panoramic views of the beautiful landscape which are framed by the white walls of the interior.
Constructed of cantilevered steel beams, full-height glazed windows, thin steel columns and pre-manufactured infill panels, the house fits into a predetermined grid system on which the vertical and horizontal dimensions were based.
The Bass Residence undoubtedly culminated with the most elegant of all of Paul Rudolph’s residential designs.