We dropped the child off at camp today. It took an hour and half to get there, because she was not interested in dawdling. It took us three and a half hours to get home because it was a beautiful day and we stopped for lunch in one little town and stopped for ice cream in another little town and detoured to Goshen, NY to bear witness to the impending dismantling and "renovation" of the Orange County Government Center.
I'd never seen it before. Yes, it's stark. But it's set back off the road, behind a scrim of carefully placed trees, in a lush lawn. It's got movement about it, in the articulation of volumes, varyingly stacked and shaped.
Curiously enough, one of the first places I lived - though I don't remember it - was a Paul Rudolph building: the Married Student Housing at Yale, also known as the Mansfield Apartments. I was a toddler there, it's where my little brother was born, and my mother used to talk about the fact that there was no place to leave a stroller when you came back with groceries and had to climb two flights of stairs to your third floor apartment. But that didn't stop her from appreciating the building and its big windows, and every time she visited New Haven, she liked to detour past it and marvel that she'd lived in a building by Paul Rudolph.
History is important. Public history is even more important. Telling stories, remember buildings, these are the things that make us human. I'm glad for the detour - I don't know what is really going to happen with that building, but I know that I've seen it and that kernel of witnessing is important to me.