Last Friday, a court battle was settled between the Paul Rudolph Foundation, the Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture (PRIMA), and the Paul Rudolph Estate, otherwise known as the Estate of Paul Rudolph, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
PRIMA is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides “outreach and information to educators, students, design professionals and the broader public interested in learning about the design principles of modern architecture exemplified in Paul Rudolph’s architectural work and teachings.” The Paul Rudolph Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to “facilitate the preservation and maintenance of the remaining structures designed by Paul Rudolph”, while the Paul Rudolph Estate is a separate Limited Liability Company (LLC) which is “not connected to, an affiliate of, or related in anyway to the Paul Rudolph Foundation”, according to its website.
The court case started back in 2020 between the three parties involved in maintaining the late architect’s legacy. That year, the Paul Rudolph Foundation “brought an action against PRIMA (formerly known as the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation) and Mr. Ernst Wagner, Paul Rudolph’s Executor and residuary beneficiary,” a press release stated. “The parties have agreed to settle all claims in the matter with the terms of the settlement being confidential,” it continued. The lawsuit was over “the ownership and copyright status of works authored by Paul Rudolph or his architectural office.”
In 1996, one year before his death, Rudolph in his Will “bequeathed the physical copies of his drawings, plans, renderings, blueprints, models, papers, treatises, and other materials related to his architectural practice (the ‘Rudolph Archive’) to the Library of Congress.” Following Rudolph’s 1997 death, his heir Ernst Wagner was awarded $1 million and his home at 23 Beekman Place was transferred into Wagner’s ownership, which he sold in 2000 for $5.5 million but did not keep the proceeds.
Following the recent settlement, president of PRIMA Kelvin Dickinson said “The Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture is dedicated to communicating, preserving and extending the legacy of world renowned architect Paul Marvin Rudolph. We welcome the court’s decision that the Paul Rudolph Works at the Library of Congress are dedicated to the public so that his work is preserved and can be celebrated by future generations.”
Ernst Wagner added “It is the common objective of the Paul Rudolph Institute for Modern Architecture and the Estate of Paul Rudolph to carry out Rudolph’s wish to preserve and publicize his professional architectural career. This settlement will allow everyone to move forward to increase the appreciation, understanding, accessibility, study and preservation of Rudolph’s architectural career.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated that PRIMA is located at 23 Beekman Place.