D.C. Metro's Recent Controversial Decision: Painting Over Brutalism

Controversy erupted last week in Washington, D.C., after D.C. Metro decided to paint Union Station's vaulted ceilings—a famous icon of the District, it's regional transit system, and the architectural style of Brutalism.

1 minute read

April 6, 2017, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

D.C. Metro

Orhan Cam / Shutterstock

Martin Austermuhle and Amanda Kolson Hurley both took to the pages of their respective media outlets to document the outcry against a controversial decision by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to paint a coat of white paint over the station's famous grey vault.

Austermuhle reports that the WMATA's Back2Good campaign is responsible for the paint job—one project among plans to power-wash, scrub, and polish all of the system's 91 stations on an annual basis.

The decision to paint Union Station, however, prompted strong responses from writers like Kriston Capps and Kolson Hurley.

After initially voicing concern on Twitter, Kolson Hurley eventually wrote an article for Washington City Paper, describing the decision to pain Union Station as troubling for "multiple reasons":

"First…dirt will show up prominently on a background of white paint," writes Kolson Hurley. "Second, exposed concrete is integral to the Brutalist style in which the Metro system was designed."

An update to the latter article notes that the Washington chapter of the American Institute of Architects had since expressed "deep concern" over the painting of the Union Station vault. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017 in WAMU

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