First Look: Demolition Diary

Photographer Chris Mottalini’s new book, After You Left/They Took It Apart: Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes (University of Chicago Press, out in October), features hauntingly beautiful images of the aggressive neglect bestowed upon three houses designed by one of the most inventive and overlooked architects”right before they were torn down. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

In the Twitchell House in Siesta Key, Florida, Rudolph made a special cut into the roofline in order to allow a palm tree to grow freely. (He might have done this to convince his clients not to take the tree down.) Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

Mottalini captured the Cerrito House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, hardly looking down and out but rather very robust in its powerful and severe modernist skin. This one, sadly, was torn down too. “I went on to photograph as many Rudolph homes and buildings as I could get my hands on. Probably around 30 in total.” Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

The sculptural staircase of the Cerrito House led to a dark basement. “I photographed the entire project without a tripod,” Mottalini says. “I often prefer shooting with 35-mm. format cameras, as opposed to the typical large format. I wanted these photographs to have a more intimate, free feel to them.” In this instance, he says, “I just held my breath and tried to stay completely still.” Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

The photograph of this basement window in the Cerrito House is like a lost cry in the dark. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

Here at the Twitchell House in Florida, the orange sunset is reflected in the windows. This type of neglect is what happens if you’re not an architect revered in the way that, say, Frank Lloyd Wright”one of Rudolph’s peers”was; and even that is no guarantee. Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

Here’s another view of the Micheels house in Westport. “Though I was given access by the new owners, I guess they got sick of people trying to prevent them from demolishing the home and ended up calling the cops to have me removed from the property,” Mottalini says. “I set out to preserve these soon-to-be-demolished homes in the only way I could ” by taking photographs of them.” Photo: Courtesy of Chris Mottalini

First Look: Demolition Diary