In which I like brutalism

The campus of UW features a few buildings in the brutalist style; these hunker uneasily between the older buildings and are complained about by everyone, though they have some hesitant defenders. Last week I gave a number theory seminar at UIC, a campus built from scratch in the late 1960s, at the height of the vogue for concrete. Huge rectilinear concrete towers set into vast concrete plazas, not an acute angle or a brick or a natural landscape contour in sight. What’s more, I was there on a freezing cold day with overcast skies and a kind of punchy, angular snow which might have actually been extremely small hail. And you know what? It looked terrific. I take back the bad things I’ve said about this style — when your whole field of view is made out of brutalism, it ends up, if you can believe this, kind of nice. It’s like being inside a futuristic diorama. (Pictured: Walter Netsch, designer of UIC.)

Tagged , , ,

One thought on “In which I like brutalism

  1. Em says:

    Perhaps because I only spent time on the campus as a child it is impossible for me to consider that it might have an architectural style. My memories are of which buildings actually sold ice cream, but considering that my family actually lived in a structure composed of cinder blocks maybe this is understandable.

    PS — Walter Netsch looks like he was made for Brutalism, though I know little about either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: