A vision of public architecture began to form in Rudolph's Sarasota studio in the early 1950s, developing logically out of the residential design commissions that dominated his early practice. These forays into the public realm were large-scale implementations of the spatial, structural, urbanistic, and even psychological issues that were being explored in the domestic work. Rudolph's contact with Walter Gropius, and later, with Jose Luis Sert at Harvard set into motion a program of thinking that would profoundly influence his conception of the public American landscape. From these sources, he became interested in the implications of low-density sprawl, the responsibility of the architect to engage the public domain, and even the large-scale reconstruction of European cities. Rudolph's notion of public architecture was further expanded by an interest in popular culture that was encouraged in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe. Their embrace of prosaic aspects of American life such as gas stations, bowling alleys, and roadside attractions paved the way for this younger generation. Rudolph's populist leanings began to take form in many of these early public projects in Florida.
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