In Defense of Brutalism

By Dan Goodman


Many cities in The US look like they were scientifically designed to be depressing. Brutalist architecture is sometimes touted as the epitome of this phenomenon, but how accurate is that? Sure, many brutalist buildings are pretty drab, conjuring up thoughts of the former Soviet Union, but others are works of art in their own right. Let’s take a look at the difference.Photo link

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These buildings are examples of Brutalism in the truly utilitarian sense. Boring and somehow menacing at the same time. One might imagine the soul crushing nature of walking into a building like this everyday and sitting in the same cubicle, waiting for the sweet release of death. Now look at these:


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What’s the difference? Creativity. All of these buildings fall under the umbrella of Brutalism. What these three have that the first two lacked is an element of surrealism. They feel like buildings out of a dream world where concrete has been stretched like clay by some alien architect sent down just to annoy James Howard Kunstler.

Brutalism can be soul crushing or awe inspiring, it all depends on the architect and the setting. In the middle of a giant parking lot a concrete tower may look pretty bleak, but a giant stone structure nestled in trees, or packed on a dense city street is a different story. Just imagine how beautiful an old brutalist building covered in Ivy might look. You don’t have to:

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Don’t tear down cool stuff.

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