April is Architecture Month, so we’re taking a look at Brutalism – the style that you either love or hate that dominated much of D.C.’s imagination in the 1960’s and 70’s.
Even if you are not a fan (many of us are!), here are some things about the buildings to appreciate:
Many Brutalist buildings are structured so that there are interesting layered views and perspectives.
Brutalist buildings have windows that are a perfection of symmetry.
Every detail in a Brutalist building is designed to complement the starkness and functionality of the whole.
At night, Brutalist buildings have a wonderful ominous look.
And of course there’s Metro, where the concrete and Brutalist lines extend everywhere.
List of Brutalist buildings
There are a lot of Brutalist buildings in D.C. and varying opinions on which are the best and the worst. Here’s a good sample of the range of Brutalist buildings:
Architect: Gordon Bunshaft
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Architect: Marcel Breuer
The Farragut Building
900 17th St NW
The Robert S. Strauss Building
1333 New Hampshire Avenue
1901 D St. SE
National Presbyterian Church
4101 Nebraska Avenue NW
Architect: Harold E. Wagoner
Wah Luck Apartment Building
800 6th St. NW
Architect: Alfred H. Liu
Completed 1982, in less than a month, built out of pre-fab components
Johns Hopkins School of Advance Studies
1740 Massachusetts Avenue
2650 Wisconsin Avenue
Architect: Michael Posokhin
DCFC Engine 2 Rescue 1
500 F St. NW
1919 Connecticut Avenue
Architect: William B. Tabler, Sr.
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
1900 E St NW
Architects: Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum and Loebl, Schlussmann & Bennett
J. Edgar Hoover Building
935 Pennsylvania Avenue
Architect: Charles F. Murphy
6th and M. St. SW
Architect: Harry Weese
Virginia and New Hampshire Avenue
Architect: Luigi Moretti
Initial construction 1969-1976
Primary architect: Harry Weese
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G St. NW
Gelman Library at George Washington University
2130 H St. NW
Architect: Mills, Petticord & Mills
L’Enfant Plaza complex
Overall design created by I.M.Pei & Partners
L’Enfant Plaza South Building
490 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Architect: Araldo Cossutta, at I.M. Pei
Forrestal Building/Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Architect: Curtis and Davis
Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Architect: Marcel Breuer and Associates
Housing and Urban Development
451 7th St. SW
Architect: Marcel Breuer and Associate
Completely agree – not being a DC regular, I would never have appreciated the design or the resultant architectural gems that exist within these buildings…
Instead, as a tourist driving through the area (not walking much, except in the heart of the mall, for example) we could never have appreciated the stairs, pathways, views…
now with more time and not carrying toddlers or adolescents, we will look again!
Thanks for reading the article, and hope you enjoy seeing more Brutalism!
Any idea where the name “Brutalism” came from?
The term Brutalism was coined by a British architecture critic, referencing the term “beton brut” (meaning raw concrete in French), which characterized the work of Le Corbusier. It was not meant favorably.
Thanks! I’d always wondered…
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