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ICRI 2009 Project Award Winner
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Award of Excellence: High-Rise Category

Concrete Restoration of Yale University's Paul Rudolph Hall
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New Haven, Connecticut

Submitted by Hoffmann Architects, Inc.

Paul Rudolph Hall

Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Repair Contractor
Turner Construction Company
Milford, Connecticut

Material Supplier/

Frank Capasso & Sons, Inc.
Northford, Connecticut

Prime Designer
Gwathmey Siegel & Assoc. Architects, LLC
New York, New York

Building Envelope Designer
Hoffmann Architects, Inc.
Hamden, Connecticut

Accompanying the addition of the Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library and the Jeffrey H. Loria Center for the History of Art, the restoration of Yale University’s Paul Rudolph Hall (formerly the Art + Architecture Building) called for uncommon approaches to unconventional concrete design. 

Completed in 1963, this landmark of modern architecture anchors a gateway corner of the Yale campus. The 114,000 square feet (10,591 square meters) structure, constructed of cast-in-place concrete, is terraced into 37 levels on nine stories, two below grade. Rudolph’s distinctive tongue-in-groove and corrugated surfaces mark the megalithic dimensions of the concrete slabs. 

Recreating the plane of a façade that has undergone multiple, increasingly destructive renovations necessitated development of superior concrete products and creative repair strategies. Enormous spandrel expanses bearing the weight of some of the largest sheets of glass ever made were restored with a layer of concrete just 2 in. (50 mm) deep yet up to 70 ft (21 m) long. The precision of wood molds custom crafted to each individual concrete rib’s dimensions was coupled with the roughness of bush-hammering to achieve the interplay of form and texture that defines this Brutalist icon. 

Faithful reproduction of the original design—while addressing and fixing some of the problems inherent to that design— demanded a holistic approach to concrete restoration, from the creation of exterior light wells to the selection and application of interior surface cleaning products. With its characteristic use of heavy concrete forms and rich textures, Paul Rudolph Hall presented architectural detailing and engineering challenges in the functional re-articulation of its evocative surfaces. This rehabilitation served to restore Rudolph’s original vision while integrating practical improvements to ensure both the aesthetic integrity and longevity of the monumental concrete. 

The completed complex achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver rating.

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