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Old 11-24-2015, 03:34 PM   #21
CSTH
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

Also, this is just incredible:

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The Lindemann houses a mental health center. It is said that the architect purposefully created forms to reflect the inner state of clients suffering from dementia or schizophrenia. Also, instead of a central entrance, he created multiple unadvertised doors to protect the anonymity of clients, who could slip in unnoticed.
This was linked from within the Commonwealth article: http://www.mediabistro.com/portfolio...dq5ft04nev.pdf


...to reference the old discussion way up the thread - the pedestrian experience here fails because Rudolph was condescendingly pandering to what he imagined was the spatial disorientation of the building's mentally ill visitors (at least according to these sources).
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Old 11-24-2015, 03:52 PM   #22
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

^I'm interested in how much truth there is behind much of that. The latter part about the lack of a central entrance is false. The current Boston Conference room was the original central Entrance to the building. It's clearly designed as a central entrance area. Like the entrance to the Hurley Building, it was on the plaza level of building.

There are numerous smaller entrances, and one of them (tucked away on the Mezzanine level under the plaza and hidden from the street), is now the primary entrance to the building.

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Old 11-24-2015, 06:34 PM   #23
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

How much valuable real estate does this damn hulking mass of concrete take up? Call in the bulldozers and put this complex out if it's misery!
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Old 11-26-2015, 10:53 AM   #24
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

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How much valuable real estate does this damn hulking mass of concrete take up? Call in the bulldozers and put this complex out if it's misery!
*furious nodding*

And it needs to be done before some misguided people (who don't have to experience it on a daily basis) start trying to protect/preserve it.
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Old 11-26-2015, 05:47 PM   #25
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

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I've never been able to find out why exactly the building was unfinished. The final section with the tower was supposed to be for the Dept. of Health, Welfare, and Education so I assume someone there finally nixed the plan when the 2 other sections were being built (more so out of cost than design I'd assume). Anyone know the details?
Van, the building wasn't completed because the initial portions cost far above the full amount proposed for the entire building, plus tower. The corduroy concrete was spectacularly expensive, specifically. It's unfortunate that the tower was never made because it would have been sweet as hell. There's a very thorough document about this that I don't have time to find, but it's floating around on the internet and I believe it's one of those downloadable City pamphlets that you can find on archive.org (if you google the right keywords).

I'm not so sure about putting any stock into the supposed reasonings for the distortions in the building reflecting the mentally ill tenants. As most here ought to know, and probably do, only half of the building is the Lindemann and the other half is other govt services like dept of unemployment, etc, and the uphill section is a little bit less crazy overall.

I think the building is cool as shit. There's a chapel inside that I've had the privilege of seeing, but it's usually locked because someone killed themselves in it by jumping from the balcony. The entire interior of the building was also corduroy concrete and just as sharp as the outside - this made it extremely poorly suited for any human habitation, so thousands of wasted dollars on interior corduroy were spent, only to be plastered over soon after. I don't think the building fails because it's surrounded by highways - I think it actually fails because it's too hemmed in by city. Monumental brutalist architecture, especially of this size, needs a monumental space giving sufficient distance to behold and appreciate the structure - this building would look better in the middle of a field of grass or cement out in the middle of nowhere. However, here it is downtown, and if it were to rehabbed, it could certainly be much improved. I'm just not sure what rehabilitation and redesign could possibly give it that life that it needs. Maybe, maybe, maybe if all the other superblocks around it were bulldozed and there was a ton of foot traffic, coupled with renovations to the facade the building could live and breathe. But the likelihood of that happening is close to zero and I think the GSC will always hulk and intimidate the average person. It really is an amazing building, but it pains me to say the truth which is that I think given the location the city and neighborhood would be better off it were demolished and the parcels redeveloped on a smaller street grid.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:48 PM   #26
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

If a building needs an empty field to be appreciated it doesn't belong in a city and is not a good design for its context. No matter how good the concept or idea behind something if it fails in its context then I personally do not see it as successful or even good design. When you design a building 9 times out of 10 you know where it is being built so design for the context not a theory.
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Old 11-26-2015, 08:59 PM   #27
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

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I think it actually fails because it's too hemmed in by city. Monumental brutalist architecture, especially of this size, needs a monumental space giving sufficient distance to behold and appreciate the structure - this building would look better in the middle of a field of grass or cement out in the middle of nowhere.
Just look at how successful City Hall is... oh wait.

Actually I agree with you here, though I think for City Hall the opposite is true, more city is needed.
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Old 11-27-2015, 12:09 AM   #28
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

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Just look at how successful City Hall is... oh wait.

Actually I agree with you here, though I think for City Hall the opposite is true, more city is needed.
Yeah agree with that myself - but City Hall is a smaller building and I think its graces are more easily beheld from close up - the GSC is such a long leviathan that it really needs more perspective to see the whole building. Also, City Hall Plaza isn't really a well-designed Brutalist plaza - it needs far more sculpting if it were to ever feel remotely appropriate to City Hall... as it is, it's just a giant old fashioned Boston brick sidewalk with a few flourishes at the peripheries. Red brick and concrete don't mix very well....
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Old 11-27-2015, 06:34 AM   #29
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

Just a reminder - it can be done, there is hope: concrete + ubiquitous LEDs + lots of nice glass and some primary colors= the brutalism of hope & light

Carney Library UMD:









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Old 11-27-2015, 08:32 AM   #30
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

^Now see, that's nice. It reminds me of Taliesin West in a way. I think the issue is that Brutalism works well when it's outfitted in nice textures and colors, and it fails when it's outfitted in "1970s Office Chic." Which is something that really shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. So much Brutalism we know though gets the 1970s treatment, so it turns into something that we automatically associate with the style even though we really shouldn't.

Now the abomination of a street wall at the Rudolph and City Hall? That's an entirely other issue.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:42 AM   #31
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

That just looks like incredibly brightly colored furniture and carpeting distracting from an otherwise awful concrete hall.
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Old 11-27-2015, 11:57 AM   #32
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

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Originally Posted by SlothofDespond View Post
That just looks like incredibly brightly colored furniture and carpeting distracting from an otherwise awful concrete hall.
You put enough lipstick and rouge on a pig and it looks like...
a big red pig.
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Old 11-27-2015, 03:14 PM   #33
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

I attended and graduated from UMD in the 1970's, and always thought the brutalistic style in that open setting worked well. I still think it's an attractive and exciting look in that particular case and setting. On the other hand, the sprawling State Service Center at GC is out of context in its dense urban setting, as a previous post here had stated. I agree it should be removed and replaced with a smaller street grid and new development.
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Old 01-16-2016, 05:07 PM   #34
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

This building came up on the One Dalton thread, and it got me thinking: Why can't the Commonwealth do the same thing here that GSA is doing at Volpe? Make a deal with a developer to build a replacement building (with similarly thoughtful functional design) on the block formed by Cambridge, Staniford, Market, and an extension of O'Connell Way. 25 stories or so should match the square footage. Then, extend a pedestrian way from O'Connell to Merrimac and you have room for four towers, two on each side.

It's not dissimilar from what the Patrick Administration wanted to do at the State Transportation Building. The difference here is that the maintenance and upkeep on the GSC might make Baker more amenable to becoming a tenant. Plus, it puts land back on the tax rolls.
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Old 01-16-2016, 08:57 PM   #35
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

I agree that the GSC looks like some future Evil Lord has had his isolated fortress transported to his new urban capital, but I don't think that has to be entirely a bad thing.

Some of these brutalist buildings benefit from new lantern-like extensions/entrances (BU's Law tower) while others are saved perforating/opening their blank street wall (Johnson's BPL wing, not technically brutalist, but pretty close)

Something is crushingly inhumane about the way both GSC and City hall meet their sidewalks, and tragic how their worst elements are so "in your face" for people on foot. But it also means its something we can fix by adding, like Pei's pyramid in the Louvre or Foster's great court at the British Museum or with a big honkin concrete saw and some glass.
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Old 01-17-2016, 07:25 AM   #36
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

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I agree that the GSC looks like some future Evil Lord has had his isolated fortress transported to his new urban capital, but I don't think that has to be entirely a bad thing.

Some of these brutalist buildings benefit from new lantern-like extensions/entrances (BU's Law tower) while others are saved perforating/opening their blank street wall (Johnson's BPL wing, not technically brutalist, but pretty close)

Something is crushingly inhumane about the way both GSC and City hall meet their sidewalks, and tragic how their worst elements are so "in your face" for people on foot. But it also means its something we can fix by adding, like Pei's pyramid in the Louvre or Foster's great court at the British Museum or with a big honkin concrete saw and some glass.
Again, I could get behind that in a different context. University campuses are the right context. Johnson's BPL wing is going to be that size and shape based on its function, regardless of architectural style.

There are non-aesthetic problems with GSC that you can't fix. It's leaking, it's very expensive for the Commonwealth to maintain, and it's far too monolithic for its site. Both buildings you mentioned have roughly urban footprints. GSC does not (City Hall, incidentally, does). You can fit 5 city blocks in this site. No amount of facade fixing is going to make this work.

If this were a museum or cultural center, maybe. As a State office building, it's a wall between neighborhoods and (like all brutalist buildings, frankly) a constant aesthetic reminder of the worst crimes of architecture and urban planning. The city needs these blocks back, and the GSC has had its run.
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Old 01-17-2016, 08:37 AM   #37
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

Ok. Let's do a Volpe on it.
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Old 01-17-2016, 02:50 PM   #38
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

I didn't realize this building was still used for the mentally ill. There's got to be a more pleasant location for this service for their sake.
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:37 PM   #39
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

Does anyone have any ideas that might result in redevelopment

other than bringing B-52s (to drop 2,000, 5,000 lb bombs)?
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:05 PM   #40
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Re: Paul Rudolph's Government Services Center

The whole superblock is a disaster, including the newer courthouse building. One problem is the wide setbacks from the overly wide superblock streets, plus of course the building(s) themselves.

I'd say let the imploding begin.
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