Gwathmey, Siegel on Display at Yale

The first exhibition on the work of modernists Gwathmey Siegel and Associates Architects will open on Monday, Nov. 14 at Paul Rudolph Hall at Yale’s School of Architecture in New Haven.

Charles Gwathmey was a student at Yale when Rudolph was dean there.   One of his last projects before his death in 2009 was the restoration of Rudolph’s 1963 masterwork – originally called the Yale Art and Architecture Building – and no small triumph for any architect, much less a former student.

“It’s amazing how well-composed and thorough his projects are,’ said Brian Butterfield, director of exhibitions at Yale.  “They are artfully done, and not just simplistically minimalistic.”

“Inspiration and Transformation” was originally curated by Douglas Sprunt for the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, N.C., which Gwathmey designed in 2002.  Sprunt chose to look at the architect’s relation with the art related to particular projects in his career.

“That became the theme of the show,” Sprunt says.  “In a way, these residential projects were really where his most intimate investigation into architecture takes place.”  Most of the art is from the modern school, including works by Josef Albers, head of Yale’s department of design.

The exhibition starts with a 1965 house and studio Gwathmey designed for his parents, who were not only artists, but also collectors of art and a huge influence on their son.   Among the items in the show is his scrapbook from a year-long tour of Europe with his parents when he was 11 years old.  “It’s amazingly informative — the postcards are chronologically assembled,” Sprunt says.  “It shows how seamlessly informed his childhood was by his parents.”

In all, the exhibit includes eight residential and institutional projects (including Paul Rudolph Hall and Whig Hall at Princeton University), as well as his notebooks on Le Corbusier’s work when the architect was abroad on a Fulbright Scholarship.

But it’s his humanity that comes across most clearly, Sprunt says.  “Charlie was just amazing to work with,” says the curator who worked with the architect to create the original show.  “As accomplished an architect he was, he was a human architect too, and a lot of that had to do with his parents and his background in the South.”


For more on the exhibit, go to

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