Colgate’s Creative Arts Center (1963-66) is a little-known but important marker in Paul Rudolph’s architectural development. The building’s programmatic excess (classrooms, offices, art gallery, theater, design studios, music library, practice rooms, recital hall) concretized a functionalist impulse in Rudolph’s move toward elaborately intertwined, highly differentiated spaces -- spaces obsessively tailored to a particular use and nearly impossible to alter. Since the late 1970s, Colgate has responded to the Art Center by augmenting it with pointedly generic loft outbuildings. This project considers instead how Rudolph’s modes could be revived with a new series of particularized spatial types for painting and sculpture studios, an art library, rehearsal/performance space, and faculty offices.
The addition also takes up Rudolph’s own strategies to remedy the Arts Center design’s major shortcoming: its perfunctory engagement with the hillside into which it burrows. On the uphill side of the new wing, the complex packing of the interior erupts onto the building’s surface and telegraphs into the landscape. The liberated geometry runs over, across, and under the rising slope, capturing new courtyards and paths. The ivy-draped downhill front, which seems at first a deferential backdrop to Rudolph’s work, subtly amplifies the original building’s horizontal thrust and mysterious scale effects.