News and notes from Reston (tm).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brutalism is Back, Baby, Only Not in Reston

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Too bad that our bona fide Marcel Breuer masterpiece was consigned to the wrecking ball last fall, because Brutalism is back, baby, and other places are cashing in on hipster love for all that sweeeeeeeeeeeeet concrete and them harsh right angles. Give us some architecturally woke blockquote, fancy New York Times "news paper" article:

Love for Brutalism has often led to gentrification.
Not here!
Many social housing projects, such as Erno Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in London, have become much sought-after private housing.
Not here!

Back in Reston's heyday, Brutalism was seen as the ideal embodiment of places to live, work, play, and get involved gas. Our wondrous concrete statuary and playground equipment drew as much scholarly analysis as cracked skulls. So how did it come to this?

Brutalism went out of favor by the mid-’70s. Films such as “A Clockwork Orange” turned Brutalist masterpieces into symbols of future dystopia. Planning budgets were slashed, and the Brutalists lost their backers. Over the last three decades, the style’s many scattered examples have suffered from age and neglect, their walls crumbling and leaking, threatened everywhere with demolition.
But now? If you've been waiting for an explanation that effortlessly incorporates the word "febrile," today's your day:
But now, like the chevron mustache, Brutalism is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness. For an aesthetic once praised for its “ruthless logic” and “bloody-mindedness” — in the much-quoted phrasing of critic Reyner Banham — it is a surprising turn of events.
We quote Reyner Banham constantly.
Architectural fashions go in and out of style with disorienting alacrity. What is one era’s style is the next era’s eyesore, and in the midst of a demolition binge, a new generation learns to appreciate, often too late, what is disappearing. In that sense, the Brutalist revival is welcome. But there is a distinct possibility that, in the process of reconsideration, the Brutalism we retain will have lost much of what made it strange and appealing to begin with.
Not here. We've got plenty of vestigial weirdness left over from the "good" old days to last us a good long while.

But who knows? Maybe this Brutalist revival is a real thing. Maybe all the exciting development currently in the works will drop the Woonerf and dubious architectural adornments and get with the hero Brutalism.

In fact, maybe Reston Town Center, stung by the resistance to its totally justified and helpful app-enabled parking regimen, is being urged by its crisis management team to "change the conversation," as expensive crisis managers say, probably, and seize the momentum of this trend by revamping the entire fake downtown in the image of its original plans:

We'd pay two bucks an hour to park there, the end.

1 comment:

  1. I still wonder if there was someway to save that API building even though it is now rubble. I will envision different scenarios and wished I had deep pockets.

    If anyone is interested in how you take care of a Breuer building, I suggest visiting the Met Breuer in NYC.


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