It’s not a style for everybody but it’s spread all over our lovely Chicago City. Let’s analysed 5 of the Greatest Brutalist Buildings in Chicago.
Derived from the French breton brut, or “raw concrete,” the architectural term Brutalism, though not necessarily requiring brutality in its application, often at least evokes it. The style is wholly a product of modernism, where buildings are stripped of ornamentation and classical vocabulary. The one hard-and-fast rule of Brutalism? The overwhelming use of raw concrete: the drab, grey stuff. Emerging in the 1950s from the work of Le Corbusier, Brutalism represented a sort of architectural honesty, free from philosophy or romanticism, which granted itself well to public institutions. College campuses, in particular, embraced this architectural style during the 1960s and ’70s. The movement flourished across the U.S., and especially in Chicago. Here are five city buildings, located from the Loop to the suburban college campuses, that encapsulate the famed Brutalist style of the mid-20th century.
This space-age condo complex that sits above a small marina on the Chicago River looks like something out of The Jetsons. The first 19 stories of each tower are actually a parking garage for residents—local architect Bertrand Goldberg surely designed Marina City with the personal vehicle in mind.
River City was also designed by Goldberg, in 1972; its careful undulations, custom-designed space-portal windows, and arched canopies seem anything but brutal.
The Regenstein Library was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill for the University of Chicago in 1970. It’s patterned concrete massing gives archetypal Brutalist vibe.
Schmitt Academic Center
DuPaul University’s Schmitt Academic Center incorporates the Brutalist trope of the bunker or fortress—impenetrable walls with recessed windows.
Prentice Women’s Hospital
And here’s one more Goldberg design. The clover-shaped Prentice Women’s Hospital looks impossibly light, hovering over its base structure.
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