Brutal Albuquerque

Brutalism is an architectural movement, or rather style, that was popular from the early 1950s until about the 1980s. It began as a movement in the United Kingdom but eventually became a global architectural style. The name derives from the French term beton brut meaning raw concrete and most buildings are constructed of concrete elements without addition finish or color. Brutalism was most commonly seen in large institutional (government) buildings. In the UK it was employed in public housing projects, in the US it was government buildings and public utilities. Brutalist architecture was sometimes equated with totalitarianism, and the large foreboding blocky grey (and often seemingly windowless) buildings were interpreted as cold and soulless.

Variations within the broad movement included rectangular buildings with strong vertical or horizontal lines, rectangular buildings with repeated cast concrete patterns creating windows, builder-block structures that look like blocks stacked randomly on each other, and buildings with extreme overhangs and cantilevers. Some examples are shown below.

Various Brutalist Buildings

Albuquerque has some examples of Brutalist architecture, although some have been lost to us. In particular, the University of New Mexico (UNM) Farris Engineering Center was recently remodelled to completely remove the Brutalist exterior architecture. Now it’s just another non-descript glass curtain eyesore. UNM retains a particularly wonderful example of Brutalism in the style of the Canadian Habitat 67 structure in the Humanities Building, shown below.

UNM Humanities Building

There are other examples that I have already found, and I will continue to search around the city during my bike rides and record the buildings.