Brutalism, also referred to as New Brutalism, is a highly controversial topic in modern preservation. A defining architectural style of the postwar era—characterized by severe, abstract geometries and the use of cast concrete, block and brick—Brutalism arguably produced some of the world’s least popular public buildings.
In the latter half of the 20th century critics Alison and Peter Smithson and Reyner Banham defined Brutalism as an ethic rather than an aesthetic. Today the ethical issue of preserving Brutalist buildings, versus contemporary aesthetic preferences, must be considered as many Brutalist structures —Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital, Marcel Breuer’s Ameritrust Tower, Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, Alison and Peter Smithson’s Robin Hood Gardens, and Gillespie, Kidd and Coia’s St. Peter’s Seminary, to name a few—are now threatened with demolition.
Should we consider Brutalism as an ethic or an aesthetic?
Selected list of words appearing in this and other conversations.