City Moves to Landmark Modernist Rudolph’s East Side Penthouse

beekman 0 City Moves to Landmark Modernist Rudolphs East Side PenthouseThe Landmarks Preservation Commission has taken the first step toward landmarking 23 Beekman Place, designed by notable modern architect Paul Rudolph. The so-called Rudolph House was purchased by Rudolph in 1965, and modified with the addition of a steel-and-glass penthouse after 1975, according to the LPC, which called the building “arguably, his most significant” design in New York.

A preservationist who has followed the building, John Jurajy, praised the move, which was approved Tuesday

“The Rudolph House is a seminal moment in New York City. I cannot overstate that. It’s huge,” Mr. Jurayj said. He said that the penthouse, “essentially a new building on top of an old building,” would be the first structure built in the 1970s to be landmarked in New York.

It is also significant, he said, because Rudolph buildings are endangered nationally. Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., Rudolph’s first public design in the state, was demolished on June 13. Rudolph’s work is considered an example of “brutalist” architecture, a modernist design style that relies on generous use of concrete.

“It’s really on the mind and at the forefront of preservation,” Mr. Jurayj said. “For the commission to be proactive… really symbolizes doing the right thing.”

The owners, the Campus family, have yet to take a position on the landmarking, at least publicly. Typically, the LPC does not try to landmark buildings against an owner’s will. The LPC’s approval Tuesday, known as calendaring, typically results in a landmark designation.

Jordan Campus, a managing director of the property, declined to comment on the calendaring (though he took the opportunity to note he’s looking for renters for the 3,000-square foot Rudolph penthouse).

The property has also become known for a civil suit, involving neighboring 21 Beekman. William Rupp, who bought 21 Beekman in 2001, erected a 27-foot wall, blocking the view from his neighbor’s balcony. Owner Steve Campus sued in 2007, but the case languished after Rupp died last year.

But the new owner of 21 Beekman, Peter Novello, who purchased it last year for $10.6 million, began taking the wall down. Mr. Novello could not be reached.

rli@observer.com