Material World

Material World

5-09

A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS: Nearly four decades after the building hosted its first class of students, Timothy M. Rohan penned an analysis of Paul Rudolph’s Yale Art & Architecture Building titled “Rendering the Surface.” In this essay, Rohan studied the corrugated, hammered concrete surface of the building to speculate upon the material’s purpose as a mitigation of scale, its origins in a style of hand drawing, and the material as a possible method for Rudolph to grapple with sexuality and gendered ornament in Cold War America. [1] Though many students, today, find the building’s “heavily worked” surface to be welcoming and endearing, Rohan described a contrary prevailing sentiment, citing Vincent Scully’s comparison of brushing against the surface of the building to the pernicious form of maritime punishment known as “keelhauling.” Rohan and Scully’s conclusions, while subjective, engaged deeply with material to reveal relationships, discover latent links, and draw conclusions about the material itself. Though materials are seemingly easy to identify, their ripple-effects (and affects) are more challenging to capture. With this issue of Paprika!, we have compiled a collection of observations, research, and meditations on materials that reveal new and forgotten connections between solid and void, physical and digital, time and space, or heavy rain and studio desks. As spatial thinkers and doers, it is our duty and privilege to intimately and rigorously engage with our world’s building blocks, in whatever form they take. We are living in a material world.

1. McDonough, Tom. “The Surface as Stake: A Postscript to Timothy M. Rohan’s ‘Rendering the Surface.’” Grey Room 5 (2001): 102–11. https://doi.org/10.1162/152638101317127831.