Arguing the Case for Preserving Ugly Buildings

Jumping into the lively debate over the future of Paul Rudolph's brutalist government building in Goshen, NY, The New York Times has asked a number of debaters to weigh in on whether even ugly, unpopular buildings deserve to be saved.

If you've seen the comments following our recent post on the controversy surrounding the fate of Rudolph's 1971 Orange County Government Center, you're likely familiar with the spirited debate surrounding the topic. Now, The New York Times has gotten into the act, following on an article on the topic by Robin Pogrebin published over the weekend that connected the Rudolph debate to conversations taking place across the country around aging modernist buildings: "between preservationists, who see them as historic landmarks, and the many people who just see them as eyesores."

Bringing in five distinct voices, The Times has managed to capture a variety of perspectives on the wider preservation debate. Anthony M. Daniels, a frequent contributor to New Criterion, argues that the only reason to preserve a brutalist building is for a lesson in the harm they can cause. "Thus it would be worth preserving one of Le Corbusier's concrete monstrosities just to remind everyone of his astonishing and arrogant incompetence."

On the other side of the spectrum, noting ever-changing tastes, David J. Brown, from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, argues that "Rather than simple aesthetics or stylistic currency, then, we should consider the innovation and architectural significance of these places and the ways in which they advance our understanding of building design."

Full Story: Are Some Buildings Too Ugly to Survive?


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