A Potentially Brutal Decision from the Orange County Exec

  |  January 29, 2015

Paul Rudolph‘s structure that was once the Orange County Government building is in danger of partial demolition if the County Exec’s office has anything to do with it. According to this piece in the NYT by Michael Kimmelman, plans for the 1967 example of Brutalist architecture include tearing it apart, adding a flat roof, and turning it into what Kimmelman calls “a soul-crushing glass box,” and when it comes to government buildings, we think we can all agree that there’s no shortage soul-crushing glass boxes out there (we’re looking at you, Ulster County).

A glimmer of hope exists: Gene Kaufman of Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman Architects in NYC wants to buy the building, restore it to its former cool glory, and re-purpose it as a live/work space for artists. To sweeten the deal, Kaufman’s throwing in a design for a new government building to go with it. However, explains Kimmelman:

“Steven M. Neuhaus, Orange County executive, seems determined to pursue the teardown plan. MidHudsonNews.com quoted him the other day as saying that ‘construction and deconstruction work’ will begin ‘by spring of this year.’ He recently vetoed a proposal that would have allowed the county to sell the center to Mr. Kaufman.”

We can’t help but scratch our heads over that one. Rudolph’s building might not be your cup of tea (frankly, we love it and always have), but it’s an important piece of architecture history, not to mention the fact that you won’t hear artists complain about additional live/work spaces in the Hudson Valley.

What your take on this? Is the county exec’s plan to turn Rudolph’s building into yet another milquetoast institutional structure, or should the county take Kaufman up on his offer to restore it?

About Kandy Harris

Kandy is a writer and musician/music teacher living in Saugerties, NY.

Read more from Kandy Harris

Read On, Reader...