Paul Rudolph - Design Masters New York Monday, December 10, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Dr. and Mrs. Louis Micheels, Westport, Connecticut
    Thence by descent

  • Literature

    Progressive Architecture, August 1976, illustrated pp.56, 54–57 for a discussion and overview of the Micheels House
    Yukio Futagawa, GA Houses (Global Architecture Houses), vol. 1, Tokyo, 1976, pp. 86–89 for a discussion and images of the Micheels House, illustrated pp. 90–91
    Roberto de Alba, Paul Rudolph: The Late Work, Princeton, 2003, pp. 64–65 for a discussion and images of the Micheels House

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present lot was designed for the house of Dr. and Mrs. Louis Micheels in Westport, Connecticut in 1972. Dr. Micheels, a Holocaust survivor who documented his experiences at Auschwitz and Dachau in his 1989 book Doctor 117641, moved to the United States following World War II to practice psychiatry and psychoanalysis and eventually began teaching at Yale University.

    After living in a Connecticut ranch house for a number of years, Dr. Micheels and his wife enlisted the services of Paul Rudolph, former chairman of the Yale Department of Architecture. Rudolph, who had studied under Walter Gropius at Harvard, had designed several residences in Connecticut and was well-known for mixing Modernist and
    Brutalist aesthetic sensibilities to create open, airy environments. The Micheels House, which sat at the top of a hill with one end anchored in the hillside and the other cantilevered, was designed so that every room could share the panoramic views of the Long Island Sound. Based on the Micheels’ request for a “light, airy feeling” in the house, this floating aesthetic was further carried into the interior design of the space, down to the use of clear acrylic in his furniture.

    According to Michael Sorkin, Director of the Graduate Program in Urban Design at the City College of New York, the Micheels House showed “Rudolph’s characteristic structural ingenuity and verve, his careful sense of orientation and climate, and his unshakable dedication to joyful living.” In the house’s debut in a 1976 issue of Progressive Architecture, Rudolph explained the concept of the Micheels House as one that deals with motion (“which the 20th-century is about”), particularly the idea of thrust and counterthrust expressed through the tension created by the overlapping and interconnecting spaces and volumes throughout the house: “I want a million and one things going on at once, but they must be resolved and balanced, because it is through the resolution of tension that something becomes dynamic.”

    In 2007, after the Micheels’ had moved out of the property, the Micheels House became the first Rudolph residence to be demolished since the architect’s death ten years earlier. It would be the first of three Rudolph houses to be demolished that year, and became the call to action for The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which initiated its Survey of New Canaan Mid-Century Modern Houses following the Micheels House teardown. This survey was an effort to bring to light the historical significance
    of these mid-century structures in Connecticut and elsewhere in order to be protected by the National Register of Historic Places.


Unique dining table, designed for the Micheels House, Westport, Connecticut

Plastic laminate-covered wood, clear acrylic, steel.
29 1/2 x 90 1/2 x 54 1/8 in (74.9 x 229.9 x 137.5 cm)

$12,000 - 18,000 

Sold for $12,500

Design Masters

11 December 2012
New York