I’m happy to note that my October 2013 blog post entitled “Collegiate brutal: Why brutalist-style buildings are so common on American college campuses” is a featured article in the latest issue of Utah Planner, the newsletter of the Utah chapter of the American Planning Association.
In the piece I highlighted a recent article by J. Bryan Lowder at Slate about brutalism’s rise as the architecture of choice at many colleges and universities across the United States, including my own, the University of Utah and its College of Architecture and Planning (CA+P). Mr. Lowder dispelled the myth that such buildings—characterized in part by heavy use of concrete and few windows—were built to thwart student riots in a time of social unrest. Rather, Slate reports, the reason was much more mundane: buildings made of concrete are much, much cheaper. Yet it also helped universities look like they were taking modernity head-on.
In relating it to my own experience in Utah, I said that I actually had some affection for the CA+P’s home in the brutalist Art and Architecture Building. “It always reminded me of the gatehouse of a medieval castle. It was dark, with most daylight blocked out in much of the building, the recessed incandescents effecting the faint glow of torches,” I wrote. But I also admitted that I may have been alone in my affection. I concluded: “University administrators were looking after the bottom line a little more than they were looking to quell student aspirations. Though, as any student who has taken classes in a cold, colorless, concrete brutalist building may tell you, they may have succeeded in doing that, too.”
Read the original post on my blog, and check out the October/November 2015 issue of Utah Planner below (my piece is actually on page 11, not page 12 as the cover states).