Yale’s Rudolph Hall receives Preservation Trust’s highest honor

The New Haven Preservation Trust (NHPT) has presented its highest honor — The Landmark Plaque — to the Yale School of Architecture’s Paul Rudolph Hall.

John D. Jacobson, associate dean and adjunct professor in the School of Architecture, accepted the award on behalf of the university at a May 6 ceremony at City Hall, which included Mayor Toni Harp.

In its announcement about the 2014 award winners, the NHPT commended Yale’s conscious decision “to restore and preserve its modern masterpieces—as exemplified by the complete restoration of the 1963 Art + Architecture Building (now known as Paul Rudolph Hall).

The nine-story, hammered-concrete building, located at 180 York St. in New Haven, survived a fire in 1969 and has undergone several renovations since. In 2007, a major restoration and expansion project began under the leadership of School of Architecture Dean Robert A.M. Stern and architect Charles Gwathmey. Completed in August 2008, the building was renamed Paul Rudolph Hall. Together with the recently completed Jeffrey H. Loria Center for History of Art and the Robert B. Haas Family Art Library, Paul Rudolph Hall forms a key part of Yale’s arts complex.

The NHPT holds its annual awards ceremony each May — National Historic Preservation Month — and chose to dedicate this year’s awards to recognizing projects that focus on individual and civic risk-taking that preserves and enhances life in New Haven.

“It’s always easier to wait for others to take the risk, but hesitation is the greatest risk when it comes to saving what can never be replaced,” the NHPT wrote in its announcement. “In New Haven, architectural legacies are sustained neighborhood-by-neighborhood, block-by-block, and building-by-building by those who care enough to act.”

In addition to Yale’s Paul Rudolph Hall, two other honors were presented at the May 6 ceremony: The House Preservation award was given to The Kimberly House, ca. 1828, as restored by Sean Hundtofte and Bridget Suma, recognized as a touchstone for personal involvement in the preservation of the historic community of Fair Haven; and The Merit Plaque award went to 38 Crown St., a 65-apartment, adaptive-use development in three historic buildings (1875 to 1910) by the PMC Property Group Inc., recognized as a role model of corporate courage and belief in the value of historic rehabilitation work.

Founded in 1961, the NHPT has played a key role in the preservation and restoration of the New Haven Free Public Library, the New Haven Post Office and Federal Building, New Haven City Hall, the John Davies Mansion, Union Station, and private residences and commercial buildings throughout the city. Its current initiatives include New Haven Modern, a multi-year survey of New Haven’s Modernist architecture.