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I think Amsterdam has some amazing architecture within the city. I write a lot about preserving examples of architecture from periods long past but what about the recent periods of architecture.

What prompted this post is the building housing the Amsterdam Police Department at 1 Guy Park Ave. Here are some street views of the building: 

apd3 apd2 apd1

I’ll admit to not liking the building for a myriad of reasons — the scale, its ‘coldness’, its symbolism as a creation enabled by urban renewal and the arterials cutting through the city, .. I could go on.

With my curiosity piqued as to the architectural origin of the building, I did a little research and found that , from what I can discern, the building appears to be of an architectural style called ‘brutalist’.

Here is an explanation of the origin and the term: 

Like International style, Brutalism is sometimes classified as its own distinctive subtype, though it is considered a variant of post-war modernism. Despite its apparently appropriate name, Brutalism is derived from the French term, beton brut, which translates to “rough concrete”. It is essentially a style based on the shaped and molded forms of concrete, a thick, masonry variation of modernist architecture. Regardless of how the International style, Modernism, and Brutalism are classified, they all share the fundamental modernist principle promoted by Louis Sullivan and his contemporaries and successors, that “form forever follows function,” without relying on revivalist architectural styles of the past.

As someone who harps endlessly on preserving versus demolition, I have to admit it’s hard to muster the same energy when faced with the question of the fate of  brutalist buildings.

I think I’m coming around somewhat but can’t deny that I agree with this: 

 [snip] as Manhattan Institute fellow Theodore Dalrymple who wrote a book about the work of Brutalist architect Le Corbusier and told the New York Times that Brutalism is “absolutely hideous, like scouring pads on the retina.”

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