June 23, 2010 Mid-Century Modern

National Building Museum Event to Explore ‘Hated’ Brutalism

I.M. Pei's 1967 library in Columbus, Indiana, is a brick, boxy structure with exposed concrete ceiling.

Brutalism. Do you love it or hate it? Derived from the French term béton brut (raw concrete), the Brutalist movement in architecture is characterized by a predominant use of raw concrete and brick and blocky forms. Many people really hate this architectural philosophy. In D.C., just think of the debate over the Third Church of Christ, Scientist and the J. Edgar Hoover Building. But what about Harry Weese’s elegant Metro stations or Victor Lundy’s monumental U.S. Tax Court?  If you want to learn more about Brutalism, head to the National Building Museum on July 31. As part of its series exploring significant periods in architectural history, Susan Piedmont-Palladino, National Building Museum curator and architecture professor at Virginia Tech’s Washington Alexandria Architecture Center, will discuss the physical characteristics of the movement and how culture, politics, and technical innovations are reflected in the architecture. You can buy tickets here.