Paul Rudolph Elementary School Slated for Demolition
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Sept. 30, 2009
It's déjà vu all over again.
A school designed by Paul Rudolph in Middletown, N.Y., could be torn down for a parking lot. Voters last December approved a proposal to build a new $63.5 million school to replace the existing John Chorley Elementary School. If that sounds familiar, it's exactly what happened to Rudolph's Riverview High School in Sarasota, Fla., which was demolished this summer.
The roof of the 40-year-old building, located 65 miles northwest of New York City, is leaking, and school officials estimate that it would cost $35 to $30 million to repair Chorley.
"The present Chorley building is no longer a viable structure. The cost of upgrading the present structure will be comparable to the same amount of money to construct a new building," Chorley's principal Frederick Griffin wrote in his December 2008 newsletter.
But Kelvin Dickinson, co-president of the five-year-old Paul Rudolph Foundation, says those estimates are high.
"I was stunned that it was still in such good condition," Dickinson says. "The amount of money they were saying needed to be spent was not on par with what it would really take for an adaptive reuse."
No date has been set for demolition, according to several school officials.
Several of Rudolph's 400 projects have been razed in the past five years. "It has been a rough couple of years," Dickinson says.
Chorley doesn't have to go the way of Riverview, Dickenson says. He and school board officials are discussing other uses for the structure—perhaps a community center or another school. "There are definitely things we can do to save this building."
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