2021: UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst organize a symposium on brutalist architecture

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The brutalist exterior of the Claire T. Carney library at UMass Dartmouth

Members of the UMass community gathered in Dartmouth on Friday October 22 and Amherst on Saturday October 23 to celebrate the past, present and future of Brutalist architecture on the UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst campuses.

The sold-out symposium – part of the UMassBrut collaboration – provided a unique platform that brought together a team of distinguished academics, industry professionals, artists and passionate citizens interested in the preservation of architecture from the mid to late twentieth century. UMasse Dartmouth Chancellor Mark Fuller kicked off the event with a welcome reception.

“We are delighted to host this event and celebrate the magnificent mid-century architectural heritage that makes our campus so unique,” ​​said Chancellor Fuller. “For me personally, the first time I set foot on this campus, I was immediately drawn to the beauty of its brutalist design, and I am committed to preserving that beauty on this campus.

Friday’s events kicked off in the large Stoico / FIRSTFED Reading Room at the Claire T. Carney Library, with lectures from academics from Brown University, Roger Williams University, Rutgers University, the ‘UMass Amherst, UMass Dartmouth and University of South Carolina. Question and answer sessions followed each presentation.

After a lunch break, keynote speaker Chandler McCoy, AIA, LEED AP, Getty Conservation Institute Senior Project Specialist, discussed the unique challenges and importance of preserving modern built heritage, clarifying the role modern university campuses play in this heritage. McCoy presented the latest case study of the Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative (CMAI) book on energy management and thermal comfort in modern buildings and discussed the lessons learned with descriptions of several of the case studies, all of which show how it is possible to balance historic preservation and energy recovery.

“Concrete is one of the most important materials in the modern movement,” McCoy said. “It’s not that I have to tell anyone here at UMass.”


Brutalist interior of the liberal arts building at UMass Dartmouth

Following McCoy’s opening speech, more than 100 members in attendance were guided by art history professor Anna Dempsey on a tour of the main quad and liberal arts building at UMass Dartmouth to explore the creative vision of Paul Rudolph, the brutalist architect who designed the foundations of the UMass Dartmouth campus. in 1963.

After the tour, participants returned to the large Stoico / FIRSTFED Reading Room at the Claire T. Carney Library for additional lectures from professionals in the design industryLAB Architects, Roll Barresi & Associates, Leslie Saul & Associates (LS&A), Sladen Feinstein Integrated Lighting, Goody Clancy, Stantec Architecture and UMass Amherst campus planning. Speakers included part of the team that renovated the Claire T. Carney Library in 2013.

Whitney Perkins, Director, Roll Barressi & Associates, talks about the 2013 renovations at the Brutalist Claire T. Carney Library

“[The renovation to the library] is definitely proof of what we can do with these brutalist structures, ”said Rose Mary Botti-Salitsky, associate professor / program coordinator of interior architecture and design at UMass Dartmouth, and session chair for Humanize the brutalist interior. “It shows the potential to expand and integrate technology that did not exist when these structures were built.”

“One of the main goals of the Claire T. Carney library renovation was to bring students into the building,” said Ben Youtz, AIA, partner, designLAB Architects. “The library was not very popular on campus before the renovation. We saw a huge opportunity through the renovation to get the students to activate and use this building. It is so gratifying to come back here and know that the choices we have made have been successful and have held up very well.

Putting the nightcap on Friday’s events, Kelvin Dickinson, President of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, presented: A Discovery of Opposites: Paul Rudolph and the Poetics of Brutalism at UMass Dartmouth inside the voluminous atrium of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). Dickinson discussed Paul Rudolph’s inspirations, philosophies, vocabulary, trends and plans before stopping to allow painting instructor David Burr to present a participatory piece of art. Burr invited participants to experience Rudolph’s cavernous and cavernous spaces by following a 3,000-foot “pattern” of rope that winds through the CVPA.

Artistic projection at the MacLean Campus Center

At the end of the scheduled events, attendees were encouraged to enter the main quad to view a projection art exhibit on display at the MacLean Campus Center. The series of videos and colorful image montages celebrated the UMassD campus by highlighting its history, architecture, expansion, and the University’s connection to local communities.

The symposium was sponsored by UMass Dartmouth’s College of Visual & Performing Arts and Creative Economy Grant from the Office of Research Administration, Ellenzweig, Suffolk Construction, the Association for Preservation Technology International, the Association for Preserving Technology New England, Finegold Alexander Architects, Dimeo Construction Co., Goody Clancy, JCJ Architecture, Stantec and Docomomo US / New England, AIA Western Massachusetts, Boston Society of Architects, BCA Architects PC, designLABarchitects, John Whitsett Architects, and with generous grants from the departments UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst.

UMassBrut consists of a collaborative advocacy group made up of UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst faculty members, staff, librarians, administrators, students, alumni and dedicated interested parties. to celebrate, preserve and reinvent our brutalist mid-century public architecture. The organizers include faculty members from a wide variety of disciplines (such as the arts, humanities, architecture and engineering), librarians, university curators, gallery directors, staff campus planning, capital projects, environmental safety, and undergraduate and graduate students from both campuses.

“UMassBrut’s mission is to raise awareness of the relevance and international importance of our brutalist architectural heritage. To achieve this goal, we are developing a series of multi-year initiatives combining interdisciplinary events, social media and public awareness campaigns, ”said Allison Cywin, Librarian and Director of Visual and Media Literacy. “These activities will promote the importance of these architectural icons and highlight the critical need to preserve them now and for future generations. UMassBrut has raised over $ 40,000 in grants, sponsorships and departmental support, giving us the seed capital to continue future activities. “

Future UMassBrut events can be found on their website.



College of Visual and Performing Arts, Date: Year 2021, Departments College of Visual and Performing Arts, Department Facilities, Featured News, News and Public Information



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