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Brutal Library

A guide devoted to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the Axinn Library building.

Brutal Library

The Axinn Library building was dedicated in 1967 and is an award-winning example of the Brutalist style. Our celebration of Axinn’s 50th anniversary will set the building in its historical, social, and cultural context – generating understanding and appreciation for this iconic but challenging structure.

The "brutalist" label originates from the French word for "raw" in the term used by the architect Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material:  béton brut (raw concrete). In 1955, British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into "brutalism" to identify the emerging style. Peter Chadwick, author of This Brutal World (Phaedon, 2016) offers this: 

Often commissioned by governmental, cultural and institutional clients, Brutalist architecture was becoming a popular solution for low cost housing, shopping centres, university campus structures and government buildings. But it wasn't just economic efficiency that concrete construction and Brutalism offered. The architects who favoured it loved the material's 'honesty', the sculptural opportunities, the uncompromising modernity as well as the socially progressive intentions that lay behind the style in a climate of economic decline, political unrest and in Europe, the long decades of post-war reconstruction. 

Peter Chadwick spoke at a symposium on November 1, 2017. To see amazing examples and gorgeous photographs of Brutalist structures, follow his feed @BrutalHouse


Contact Information

We look forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of our "Brutal Library" with you. For all the latest news, follow us on twitter @HUBrutalLibrary

Event Coordinators:

Sarah McCleskey, Head of Resource and Collection Services 

Geri SolomonAssistant Dean of Special Collections and University Archivist 

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