Brutalism (1950-1985)

The term Brutalism comes from the French word beton brut meaning rough concrete. Fittingly, Brutalist structures are heavy and monumental in scale and massing. The massive sculptural concrete shapes are crude and blocky. Brutalist buildings can be described as being brutal in appearance. As a style brutalism is used most frequently in institutional settings such as campus or government buildings, but can also seen in residential architecture. Brutalist architecture emphasizes the natural roughness and heaviness of concrete as a material. The birth of brutalism as a style is credited to architect LeCorbusier who experimented with concrete in his designs for massive high rise block housing. Paul Rudolph is the American architect attributed with designing Brutalist buildings now used to define the style.

Identifying Features:

  • rough exposed concrete
  • bulky massing
  • overall heaviness to the building


“Mid-Twentieth Century Olympia: A Context Statement on Local History and Modern Architecture, 1945-1975.” City of Olympia Heritage Commission. Olympia, WA: April 2008. PDF Document. (accessed Feb. 28,2010).

“Brutalism.” From Tom Fletcher’s New York Architecture. (accessed Mar. 13, 2010).




3. Falk House, Hardwick, VT, Peter Eisenman, 1969.