Orange County Center Gets Stay of Execution

While proponents for the preservation of Paul Rudolph's Orange County Government Center won a reprieve last week, Anthony Paletta is more concerned with the types of civic architecture the Rudolph building's critics would hope to construct.

By a narrow 11-10 vote last week, the Orange County Legislature rejected a proposal to demolish the Brutalist Center, built in 1967. Paletta celebrates the decision as "a clear victory for our culture." His good cheer about the fate of the Rudolph building, however, did not prevent him from lamenting the general state of civic architecture in the U.S.

"I had the good fortune to see the Rudolph building for the first time last week, and I could not help but wonder: Have any of the disgruntled –those who called it 'ugly,' 'a monstrosity,' and 'so out of place'-seen the county office buildings we have put up lately? Have any of these critics ever been, even remotely, diverted by a DMV waiting room?"

"In recent years, civic architecture has relentlessly inclined towards mediocrity or worse. County office buildings may be the worst of a bad lot, marooned between design competitions that occasionally produce state or federal buildings of distinction and the sort of local pride that seems to avert miserable town halls. These buildings seem to fall in an almost inevitable middle-range of civic apathy; you enter them only to renew a driver's license and have about the same reaction to their aesthetics as when you see a distant relative at an occasional wedding."

Full Story: Saving Rudolph in Goshen

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