Springboard Design


Rosenblatt Drawings Featured in Yale Lecture

Professor Emmanuel Petit, curator of  the exhibition“An Architect’s Legacy: James Stirling’s Students at Yale, 1959-1983” recently presented a lecture about the exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art . Entitled “Synchrony and Diachrony,” the lecture featured several of Springboard Principal Paul Rosenblatt’s drawings including a unique “hinged” axonometric.

With Professor Petit’s permission, we have excerpted several of his remarks here as well as Mr. Rosenblatt’s hinged axonometric drawing, below:

“Here is a drawing by Paul Rosenblatt who took Stirling’s studio in the fall of 1983, when Stirling assigned the Performing Arts Center at Cornell as the studio problem.

The drawing is remarkable because it creates the aporetic fusion of the two temporalities I mentioned before with Choisy and Nolli: the axon (which you know was a fixture in Stirling’s own work and also in his studios at Yale) is ‘hinged’ – which means that we are looking at the same space of Rosenblatt’s building twice: both up into the round lantern-like skylight and also down into the more meandering entrance hall with its connections to adjacent spaces. In other words, Rosenblatt’s drawing unites the features of both Choisy and Nolli….

No doubt Colin Rowe is behind this double-consciousness. We know how another individual who was close to Rowe at Cornell has produced a similar ‘double’ axonometric drawing that suggests architecture’s simultaneous orientation up – into ideal space, the dome – and down – into actual, pragmatic space. This one from 1979, of course, is by Rem Koolhaas and the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) for the addition to a Panopticon prison built in 1882 in Arnhem, The Netherlands. This project fuses Jeremy Benthem’s utopian parti of the Panopticon, paradoxically, with OMA’s pragmatic versionof a prison based on linear corridors that lead out underneath Benthem’s centrifugal space and thus negates its utopian paradigm. But both co-exist in the simultaneity of a ‘spatialized time.’

Let’s return, now, to Rosenblatt’s more Soanian space: what he did (and OMA didn’t do) is to create this spatial ‘hinge’ which graphically connects the two axon drawings. I want to claim that for this particular solution, which is so helpful in figuring out what Stirling’s architectural weltanschauung was about, the context of Yale was very important. This is for the reason that Josef Albers, who taught at Yale from 1950-58, provided the structural and aesthetic mechanism to make this double drawing work (i.e. the drawing that allows you to look up and down at the same time). These structures are taken from Albers’ series entitled ‘Structural Constellations’ on which he worked while at Yale.

You could speculate that Stirling himself had been influenced by Alber’s formal experimentation in the 50s himself, as we know that the pinwheel dynamic and the alternating up and down movement in space has been part of Stirling’s interest ever since his and James Gowan’s Assembly Hall project in Camberwell, London. The date of this project is 1958-61.

In fact, Rosenblatt confirmed to me that he was influenced by Albers and also the American graphic designer and Cooper Union Professor Rudolph de Harak, who was a visiting professor at Yale and for whom Rosenblatt worked during some of his summers. (You can look up) some of the book covers de Harak designed. The cover of Paul Valery’s ‘Monsieur Tete,’ for example. Valery’s text is a prose about Mr. Head (tete) whose whole  existence is given up to the examination of his own intellectual process. So, you get the trope of self-examination and analytical self-enfolding, the lived or anecdotal life of Mr. Head and the idealized analysis thereof.”

Mr. Rosenblatt’s drawing attached below. Click on the link if it does not open immediately: