In our second of a three part exploration of brutalism, we examine one of the most elegantly understated buildings in the district. The offices of The Department of Housing and Urban Development was designed by Marcel Breuer and was completed in 1968. This pre-cast concrete facade houses one of the most important institutions of our forthcoming era. With the rapid increase in global urbanization, sophisticated and robust planning initiatives must be deployed if we are to meet the needs of the growing urban population.
Even though HUD here in DC doesn’t necessarily operate on an international level with these kinds of urban problems, it will become more and more important to be aware of these challenges in coming decades. The figures are staggering, especially in developing countries. Within just 30 years, cities in developing countries will triple their entire urban built-up area, generating the same amount of urban area as the entire world had cumulatively generated by the year 2000–much of it will be in the form of over crowded slums. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, slum dwellers make up 72 percent of the urban population, totaling more than 166 million people in 2001. Their numbers are expected to increase to more than 325 million by 2020, more than the current population of the United States of America.
In other news, Virginia Tech Architecture professor and National Building Museum curator Susan Piedmont Palladino gave a lecture on brutalism a few weeks ago and used a few Straight Torquer photographs. She blogs about architecture and sustainability at: http://ganggreennbm.blogspot.com/