A new edition of the out-of-print Atlas of Brutalist Architecture comes out this month, documenting more than 850 of the often misunderstood buildings around the globe. Here’s a look at some of the local structures that are included.
Robert C. Weaver Federal Building, 1968
The X-shaped HUD headquarters was the first federal building in the US built of precast concrete. It’s even more impressive in person, so take a look next time you’re walking from the L’Enfant Plaza Metro to the Wharf.
Georgetown University’s Joseph Mark Lauinger Memorial Library, 1970
“Lau” is not much loved by students. (The campus paper once described it as “physically ugly, outdated and decrepit.”) The Atlas suggests that it succeeds in bringing a “modern spirit into the classical environment of the Neo-Gothic campus.”
American Press Institute, 1974
Located in Reston, API’s onetime headquarters was the only building in Virginia designed by renowned architect Marcel Breuer. The Atlas admires it for the “power, simplicity and clarity” of its design, “at one with its green and natural surroundings.” Despite preservationists’ attempts to save it, the structure was bulldozed in 2016.
J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building, 1974
It’s one of DC’s least-admired institutional edifices, and the ungainly building probably doesn’t have much of a future. A plan was in the works to move the FBI to the burbs; now the Trump administration is pushing for a new HQ to be built on the current site. Either way, the crumbling behemoth is likely to be torn down.
Hubert H. Humphrey Building, 1976
Originally called the South Portal Building, it now houses the Department of Health and Hu-man Services. The concrete box—one of the last projects Breuer worked on before his retirement—sits on top of the 3rd Street Tunnel.
This initially appeared in the November, 2020 issue of Washingtonian.