“How They Built It”: A Series on the Intersection of Passion and Opportunity
UPA members reflect on the circumstances which led them to build something new and enduring. This week in worship we hear from Architect Paul Dudek.
photo by Marcy Stuart
During his younger years in Alberta, Canada, Paul Dudek had many roads to choose from on his career path, but in the end a chance encounter with a college curriculum catalogue reminded him of what he enjoyed doing while growing up on his aunt and uncle’s ranch. That ranch was 20 miles from the closest town and six miles from the nearest neighbor. “We had to be self-sufficient,” Dudek recalled. He added that there were no telephones and the family’s electricity came from a gas powered generator. As Dudek described it, the ranch was on two levels and the only ways to get from the upper to the lower ranch was either a long trek down the road or to cross a foot bridge that was frequently washed out when the creek flooded.“We had all the tools and supplies and I liked to build things so I rebuilt that bridge a couple of times,” Dudek said.
Despite his love of drawing, Dudek started to follow another career path while he was in high school. His first summer job led him into the nearby forests to clean the rubble left behind by people exploring for oil.
“They would come in with large bulldozers and knock down trees to make roadways for their equipment,” he noted. “One with a chain saw and one with an axe to break up the branches and stumps left behind so they would rot properly.” The next summer he worked as a “roughneck” on an oil drilling rig. The hard work of that experience led him to study geology in his combined high school/junior college. The dean of the school administered an aptitude test, which showed that Dudek had a good talent for “spatial manipulation.” He should go into design work. However, being young, Dudek let the advice “go in one ear and out the other.”
It would not be until two years later when he applied to the University of Arizona, that a perusal of the college course curricula offered there would pique his interest. “I was signed up to take the courses I needed to finish my bachelor’s degree in Geology,” Dudek recalled, “when I saw the courses required for an architectural degree. They required all of the things I used to love doing as a kid, including drawing and building things.”
Dudek noted that from the time he was seven or eight he loved to paint the buildings on the ranch using his water colors. The building projects, such as the bridge also came to mind. After a discussion with the Dean of the School of Architecture, Dudek made the decision to set aside two years of study in Geology apply for the School of Architecture. He was accepted and graduated five years later. in 1964 with a Bachelor in Fine Arts and in 1965 with a Bachelor in Architecture.
Dudek worked for a couple of years as an architect with a company in Arizona. He did the designs for the single story buildings and another person would do the engineering. However, bigger things were on the horizon for Dudek. A trip to Chicago landed him a position on the team that was designing the 100 story John Hancock Tower in that city. Dudek recalled that the person interviewing him was only interested in seeing his artwork. After he showed it he was “…hired immediately.”
It was his job to design the spaces for clients that would be moving into the tower. Therefore he found himself traveling to law offices, consulates and other places where the prospective clients were working in an attempt to recreate those spaces in the new tower.
After a year on the job, Dudek decided to further his education and looked into studying at MIT. He was awarded a fellowship to attend the graduate school of architecture and after graduating went to work with one of his professors at the firm of Goody Clancy and Associates.
Throughout his career with this firm, Dudek got to work on several prestigious projects, including a site known as Tent City in Boston’s Back Bay. The combined business and residential complex won a UN World Habitat Award due to its mixed use design. To this day Dudek is proudest not of one of the world’s tallest structures, but of Tent City Affordable housing, celebrated also by the World Habitat Award because:
“It provides an outstanding example of how to preserve the economically and racially integrated population mix that is typical of older urban areas, as well as providing a model for how successful developments can change public policy.”
It is a good thing Paul Dudek listened to both heart and head, taking a U-turn from Geology following a different direction leading toward enduring monuments of strength.
READ FULL STORY HERE, From Paul Dudek
The Book of Job, Chapter 2, verses 1-10
Prelude: “God’s Names” Doran
Meditation: ” God is My Shepherd” Dvorak
Anthem: “In Remembrance” Red
Postlude: “Fantasy in C” Zachau
This Sunday is Service Sunday.
All students, if they wish, will be building Scarecrows for the pumpkin Patch. Students of all ages will have some fun with making faces, stuffing clothes, and planting friendly scarecrows around the patch.