Collection by Patrick Sisson

Art Brut: Revisiting Brutalist Architecture

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Derived from a descriptive term used by Le Corbusier, béton brut (raw concrete), Brutalist architecture is an offshoot of modernism that trades the spatial poetry of steel and glass for grounded, castle-like structures of exposed concrete.

En vogue from the ‘50s through the ‘70s, Brutalism screamed functionality and immovable strength and was revered for its honesty and relatively low construction costs, all of which made it a favorite of institutional and government clients. The trend found many adherents in England -- the term was coined there in 1953 by English architects Alison and Peter Smithson -- as well as some serious critics, including Prince Charles, who quipped “You have to give it to the Luftwaffle. When it knocked down our buildings, it didn't replace them with anything more offensive than rubble.”

The Egg -- Albany, New York (1978) The oblong, sculptural, saucer-shaped performance venue appears to rest on a...
Preston Bus Station -- Lancashire, England (1969) More than 50,000 people a day use this stunning bus station, boasted...
Robarts Library -- Toronto, Canada (1973) Another compelling example of the soft side of Brutalism, this collegiate...
Paulistano Athletic Club -- São Paulo, Brazil (1958) This early statement from Pritzker winner Paulo Mendes da Rocha,...
Unité d'Habitation -- Marseille, France (1952) Nicknamed the “Nutter’s House” and “The Radiant City,” this Corbusier...
Habitat 67 -- Montreal, Canada (1967) Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie’s thesis project at MCGill University...
St Peter's Seminary -- Cardross, Scotland (1966) Integrating Corbu’s style with the beauty and ruggedness of the...
Geisel Library -- San Diego, California (1970) Architect William Pereira originally envisioned a steel structure for...
Banco de Londres y America del Sur -- Buenos Aires, Argentina (1966) Architect Clorindo Testo used a series of curved,...
Palace of Assembly -- Chandigarh, India (1963) India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, asked Corbusier to...
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