First Brutalist architecture feature: Geisel Library

Note: I first heard about Brutalist architecture in September of 2016 through a Twitter post. I was both fascinated and somewhat scared. In my effort to understand more about it, I decided to blog about the buildings in the world that adhere to this architectural style.


From Wikipedia: Brutalist architecture is a movement that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century.

Buildings that subscribe to this movement are typically massive in character (even when not large), fortress-like, with a predominance of exposed concrete construction, or in the case of the “brick brutalists”, ruggedly combine detailed brickwork and concrete. There is often an emphasis on graphically expressing in the external elevations and in the whole-site architectural plan the main functions and people-flows of the buildings. Brutalism became popular for educational buildings (especially university buildings), but was relatively rare for corporate projects. Brutalism became favored for many government projects, high-rise housing, and shopping centers.

Brutalist buildings are usually formed with repeated modular elements forming masses representing specific functional zones, distinctly articulated and grouped together into a unified whole. Concrete is used for its raw and unpretentious honesty, contrasting dramatically with the highly refined and ornamented buildings constructed in the elite Beaux-Arts style. Surfaces of cast concrete are made to reveal the basic nature of its construction, revealing the texture of the wooden planks used for the in-situ casting forms. Brutalist building materials also include brick, glass, steel, rough-hewn stone, and gabions. Another common theme in Brutalist designs is the exposure of the building’s functions—ranging from their structure and services to their human use—in the exterior of the building.

Name: Geisel Library/Main library building of University of California, San Diego
Location: 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093
Year project finished: 1970
Architect: William Pereira
Structure: Eight floors, with the first two being the smallest in size while the upper six levels present a diamond-like shape in frontal view
Materials: Reinforced concrete and glass

Geisel library 1Geisel Library 2Geisel Library 4maxresdefault

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