Brutalism is Beautiful

Following up with the The Case of Ugly Architecture, consider this:

Sketch of the Orange County Government Center created by and courtesy of Kim Barker.

Looking good, Brutalism.

For an overview of Brutalist architecture and examples from around the world, read this or this.

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16 thoughts on “Brutalism is Beautiful

    • Kaitlin says:

      I assume by “ugly” you mean McMansions and not architect designed styles such as brutalism. If you are talking McMansions and boring storefronts – sounds like a good idea to get rid of it! Architecture is aesthetic, which equals a better environment, right?

  1. Lisa Ackerman says:

    Love Brutalism is Beautiful. Amazing that at one moment in our recent past, governments commissioned such strong architectural statements to show themselves and their communities to be cutting edge and forward looking. Now their successors can’t wait to tear down the buildings. Not every building can be saved, nor should every building be part of the streetscape forever. That said, Brutalist buildings and other mid-century modern contributions to the American landscape made a bold statement about the evolution of the United States and towns all across America in the 1950s through 1970s commissioned adventurous public buildings. Hospitals, schools, municipal structures, libraries built in these styles suggested something profound about the image officials wanted for their cities. Phillip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion has welcomed millions traveling from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan. A hello that says this is an exciting place reaching for the stars.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Excellent context. What you write rings true to the idea of saving significant buildings, not all of them. And not every building of every style will be significant; hence, the need for surveys and context.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Karri, if you read the link at the beginning of this post, you will see that “ugly” is in reference to a NYTimes piece that asks if some architecture is too ugly to survive. Your questions were exactly my point of the other post.

  2. pjsarecomfyn says:

    I actually have a strange love for Brutalist architecture. I co-wrote an article about Brutalist architecture in Russia and ever since then it has made a little sweet spot in my heart. I definitely don’t think it is an “attractive” style, but there is something interesting about it.

    • Kaitlin says:

      That is a good distinction for the non the architectural historians — not exactly attractive, yet interesting. There is no denying the interesting factor, especially of the Orange County Government Center.

  3. socialbridge says:

    Your title captivated me ~ the perfect contradiction. I have to say I agree with Pjsarecomfyn in terms of finding the brualism ‘interesting,’ though not necessarily beautiful. Here in Ireland, we have many examples and I included one in a recent slideshow that I posted – that of Liberty Hall , in Dublin. One commentator asked what it was doing in the slideshow alongside Ireland’s beauty. For me, what can make brutalist building beautiful is what memories associate with them. The relationship between human emotion and buildings is so complex! Thanks for bringing all this up.

    • Kaitlin says:

      Definitely: when people are emotionally connected to anything (object, building, place, art, etc) it rises to a higher significance for that person. And it will vary from one to another. We should all respect that idea.

      I used the title that came with the image from Kim Barker — the perfect contradiction for sure. She did a great job!

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