Thursday, November 17, 2011

Totally Brutal

The pictures above and below are of the Minton-Capehart Federal Building 
in downtown Indianapolis. Named after two members of the United States Senate, Sherman Minton (D) and Homer Capehart(R), the building was constructed in 1974, in the Brutalist style. The style got its name from the French for "raw concrete," beton brut, an accurate description for both the building's material and it's appearance. 

Among older structures in the surrounding area,
the building appears to be a fortress. This may be appropriate
in that it houses offices for the Social Security Administration, 
the Internal Revenue Service, and the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation, among others. The building is easy to navigate; 
its layout is almost intuitive and offices are easy to find.
However, given all the concrete and narrow windows, 
it is claustrophobic to work there as the 
only windows are on the outer perimeter.
(Guess which workers have the best offices?)

When the huge, yellow ochre inverted ziggaurat was dedicated, 
people were outspoken about the stark expanse of the baby-doo
colored exterior. In response, world-renowned graphic designer
Milton Glaser was commissioned to design a mural that
spans the 600-foot wall at the main entrance. This was in 1974, 
just as Glaser was beginning his stellar career.

It may also be ironic that the "big business of bureaucracy" 
is housed in a building the style of which was initially associated 
with a philosophy of socialist urban ideology.


dive said...

Concrete can be beautiful, and Brutalist buildings can indeed be austerely attractive to look at and wonderful to work in (like mine).
This one's a bit blah. Had it been built around a lightwell it would have reduced the lettable floor space but at least people would have wanted to rent the damned thing. It must be soulless and depressing not to have windows at work.

Speedway said...

I hated working there because I always felt trapped within the building's walls. At least the halls are wide and one can do laps inside the building for exercise. There is no center courtyard; that portion of the building mainly houses elevators, restrooms and storage. The window blinds in the outside rooms I worked in were usually always closed and even open made me feel shut away. Given the conflicts in today's society, I suppose one can also feel secure and protected -- after all, the "resources" of the FBI and Secret Service are available on the upper floors, if needed.