The Beauty in Brutalism, Restored and Updated



Yale University’s “Rudolph building, designed and constructed from 1958 to 1963, shares a vertiginous history with another important mid-20th-century landmark, Boston’s City Hall, a competition-winning design by Kallmann, McKinnell & Knowles also built in the 1960s. Initially celebrated and subsequently reviled, both buildings are in the same Brutalist style. The name Brutalism — from the French béton brut, the raw concrete used by Le Corbusier and favored by modernists — is more commonly used today as a term of opprobrium by a public that profoundly dislikes the style’s rough textures and powerful forms.” - story

One comment, though (apart from the snickering about calling brutalism’s forms “powerful” and apart from noting that the image of Boston City Hall in that article is extremely flattering): When the author says that Boston’s “City Hall is being systematically and willfully destroyed by abusive neglect, aggravated malfunction, and spreading bureaucratic blight” then that’s technically true. However, since the whole of Boston is in a total state of disrepair - it’s my American home town, and as much as I love the city, going back there always has me dismayed about how trashed everything is - the implication that somehow, Boston’s politicians are trying to destroy their City Hall by neglecting it doesn’t make any more sense than claiming that they’re trying to destroy the whole city by neglecting it.

I’m actually all for keeping that building (hey, I got married there!), but one would have to spend a lot of money on the building and its surroundings to transform it from a place that any North Korean would be truly familiar with into a civic center worthy of one of the country’s oldest and, yes, grandest cities.