Brutalism is considered one of the least visually appealing architectural styles due to its blocky, cold concrete shapes. Because of that, it is also one of the most contentious. While architects love concrete due to its flexibility, members of the public tend to be repulsed by the dull box shapes, describing Brutalist buildings as eyesores and even atrocities. British architects Alison and Peter Smithson coined the term "Brutalism" in 1953, inspired by the French béton brut, which literally means, "raw concrete." From the 1950s to the 1970s, the architectural style flourished with angular, concrete buildings—often with an egg-crate appearance—found all over the world (and most recently in Minecraft).
British author, physician, and political commentator Theodore Dalrymple has been known to describe Brutalist buildings as "cold-hearted," "inhuman," "monstrous," and a "spiritual, intellectual, and moral deformity." Charles, Prince of Wales, spoke against the architectural style in December 1987 at the Corporation of London Planning and Communication Committee's annual dinner at Mansion House. "You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe," he said, "when it knocked down our buildings, it didn't replace them with anything more offensive than rubble." Even Buzzfeed has shown their distaste for the style, going so far as to accuse the architects of the 1960s and 1970s as having early onset glaucoma, while describing the buildings they designed as "heinous, unforgivable scars." Greater Greater Washington, on the other hand, roots for the brutal behemoths, describing the style as "long misunderstood." And of course, Swiss-born modernist and genius Le Corbusier was fairly keen on the style as well.
What caused Brutalism to become so prevalent from the 1950s to the 1970s was the low cost of concrete, a factor that especially appealed to federal, state, and local governments. In the winter 2013 publication of Preservation Magazine, David Hay wrote, "Because the style was relatively inexpensive to build, however, design was frequently sloppy. Many structures from the period—oddities now mocked on the Internet—ended up misshapen, badly proportioned, and drab." Regarding durability, concrete also falls short in that area. In cold, damp climates, moisture often streaks the concrete walls, while the steel rebar inside tends to rust.
As all movements do, Brutalism eventually came to an end. Since its demise in the mid-1980s, the buildings in Washington, D.C. have little by little either been demolished, poorly maintained, or continuously scorned. In February 2014, a Brutalist church located on the corner of 16th and K streets NW, known as the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, was razed, and there are now plans to renovate an existing office building at 1600 Eye Street NW to make it a little less blocky and unfriendly. There is still a myriad of buildings within the District that reflect the Brutalist style, from libraries to museums to hotels. In the map below, you will be able to find 15 of the most recognizable and notable examples of Brutalism in Washington, D.C.
· The 15 Neoclassical Buildings Every D.C. Resident Should Know [Curbed DC]
· It's Too Bad That None of These Brutalist Minecraft Buildings Actually Exist [Curbed Flipped]
· Things You May Not Have Known About the History of Concrete [Curbed National]
· The five best Brutalist buildings in DC [Greater Greater Washington]
· http://www.iconicphoto.com/bw-brutalist-architecture.htm [Buzzfeed]
· Brutalist Architecture of Washington DC [Iconic Photo]
· Brutalist Architecture [Saylor Academy]
· Defending Brutalism: The Uncertain Future of Modernist Concrete Structures [Preservation Magazine]