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While the Smithsons focused on straightforward articulation of architectural assemblies, other “New Brutalist” architects became intensely interested in the potentials of concrete as a medium of expression.
how scale operates in these buildings,” to study how the buildings reveal program and structural behavior.
Making analytical models of these buildings focused their attention even more closely.
The studio group also toured Boston City Hall, with the guidance of Professor Mark Pasnik, co-author of the 2015 book .
Then, they visited the site for the studio: Swope Center, the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole.
As a modern material, however, concrete also fortified their disavowal of reactionary trends in architecture that reached toward nostalgic regional sensibilities.
These architects of concrete quickly appeared to represent a movement.Cold, alienating, unfriendly; an architectural abomination, one of the world’s ugliest buildings.Although these are the epithets tossed casually at Boston City Hall, the same terms land on many outwardly similar concrete buildings wherever they are.This is the contention behind Jeanne Gang and Claire Cahan’s Spring 2019 architecture studio at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, “Recasting the Outcasts.” Gang and Cahan argue that “at a time when it is more essential than ever to conserve resources and prevent carbon pollution, we find that buildings are frequently discarded rather than being reinvented to serve contemporary life…One group of architectural outcasts that are particularly vulnerable to being erased and replaced—and their embodied carbon thereby released—are the Brutalist structures of the 1960s and ’70s.” An important reason for their vulnerability is the language that surrounds them, starting with their now almost unavoidable designation as “Brutalist.” At a time when it is more essential than ever to conserve resources and prevent carbon pollution, we find that buildings are frequently discarded rather than being reinvented to serve contemporary life.As these buildings age, as their surfaces accumulate grime and stains, as their roofs begin to leak, intense public dislike makes them vulnerable, and the quick impulse so often is to get rid of them.Most of the time this is a bad idea, not only because it is wasteful, but also because the buildings are not as horrible as they seem.The students and studio faculty spent a night in its dormitories taking in views of the campus through concrete framed windows.They ate breakfast in its dining room under an expansive concrete waffle-slab ceiling, and looked out over Eel Pond through immense strip windows. And, Gang points out that the building presents an additional challenge—that in contrast to other Brutalist buildings “it doesn’t have a strong enough identity; it is not heroic enough” to demand strict preservation, nor even to suggest a specific approach for renovation.He explained that the careful detailing of concrete manifested a shift from the formalism of early modernism to a more subtle kind of architectural expression.Similarly, Louis Kahn considered material—especially mundane materials like raw brick and concrete—to establish the basis of architectural expression. ” he exclaimed to a roomful of Boston architects in 1966.