ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Brutalism and Internationalism: How They Relate to the Lansing Area

Updated on June 28, 2019
A typical Brutalist apartment building of that time in Sydney, Australia
A typical Brutalist apartment building of that time in Sydney, Australia | Source
Parking structure at SeaTac Airport, showing Brutalist influence
Parking structure at SeaTac Airport, showing Brutalist influence | Source
AT&T Building, Lansing, from Capitol Avenue side
AT&T Building, Lansing, from Capitol Avenue side | Source
The author's own Alma Mater in New York--functional, even big-city collegiate, but not necessarily brutal!
The author's own Alma Mater in New York--functional, even big-city collegiate, but not necessarily brutal! | Source
Seagram Building, New York, the ultimate International-Style office tower--too bad all modern architecture is not of this caliber!
Seagram Building, New York, the ultimate International-Style office tower--too bad all modern architecture is not of this caliber! | Source
MetLife (formerly Pan Am) Building, New York, showing International curtain-wall construction
MetLife (formerly Pan Am) Building, New York, showing International curtain-wall construction | Source
Lansing City Hall from the late 1950's showing curtain-wall construction
Lansing City Hall from the late 1950's showing curtain-wall construction | Source
George Nelson Building, Lansing--International Style comes to the street level!
George Nelson Building, Lansing--International Style comes to the street level! | Source
Philip Johnson, one of the founders of Internationalism but also a pioneer into Postmodernism
Philip Johnson, one of the founders of Internationalism but also a pioneer into Postmodernism | Source
Sony (formerly AT&T) Building, New York.  Philip Johnson abandons his Internationalist roots and goes Postmodernist!
Sony (formerly AT&T) Building, New York. Philip Johnson abandons his Internationalist roots and goes Postmodernist! | Source

How Two Major Architectural Styles Impacted mid-Michigan

Brutalism and Internationalism were two architectural styles from the preceding century that had a major impact on worldwide cultures. They had outstanding practitioners as well as their share of critics. Brutalism seems to be something of a misnomer, while Internationalism was more generally accepted in more cultures, hence the name. Although they have now largely passed into the annals of architectural history, they may make a comeback someday, as for example in the revivalist mode. The well known Gothic Revival in America in the 1800's comes to mind. Each was so important in its own right that they merit individual attention. This article attempts to examine them in the context of their periods and to link them to the Lansing, Michigan cultural timeline.

Brutalism


The term "Brutalism" has its roots in early Modernist architecture from the beginning of the previous century. It was employed in schools and apartment buildings, among many other uses. Raw concrete was the primary building material, although others were also attempted. It was extremely functional, and obviously was unadorned. It flourished from approximately 1951 to 1975. However, through the years since its heyday, it seems to have taken on a rather derogatory connotation. Such perfectly good everyday edifices as telephone company buildings, airport structures and grain silos and terminals have all been tagged (or stigmatized) with the designation brutal. Instead of plain, functional or utilitarian, they are lumped together as brutal. Such a name can only serve to plant a somewhat sinister linkage in the popular mindset. Should such an architectural style return in the future, it will have to fight upstream against the public current of resistance.

Internationalism


Internationalism is a more broadly applicable style than Brutalism. It grew out of modernistic tendencies in the 1920's and since. It featured a blending of inner and outer materials and appearances. It also made free use of aluminum and glass, freeing up the outer structure of buildings from the burden of carrying the load and permitted the evolution of the "curtain wall system." Leading practitioners included Le Corbusier, Philip Johnson and Walter Gropius, among others. Such outstanding examples as the Seagram Building, the MetLife Building (formerly Pan Am) both in New York, and Johnson's own glass box house in New Canaan, Connecticut are all notable specimens of this seminal style. Indeed, the International Style might have been the last word in modern architecture had there not evolved a growing reaction against it. In the early 1970's, there emerged a need to get away from the" glass box" style and to advance into other more experimental geometric forms, such as pyramids, cylinders, octagons and even inverted trapezoids as expressions of this sublimated urge. Such more recent examples as the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, the Detroit Renaissance Center and Pennzoil Plaza in Houston all come to mind. The minimalist inclination of the Internationalist architects was soundly renounced by Philip Johnson himself with the AT&T Building in New York in 1984, with its unique Chippendale cabinet top. This structure was actually inspired by a piece of dining room furniture! As Internationalism waned by the 1970's and 1980's, a new style was born: Postmodernism.

How They Relate to Lansing


Lansing is no stranger to these national and internationalist trends. Such fine local examples as the Lansing City Hall, the George Nelson Building and the AT&T Building on Washington Square are all outstanding representatives of both Brutalism and Internationalism. The Lansing City Hall combines both civic awareness and International style with its curtain wall exteriors. The George Nelson Building makes use of a blend of materials, including stone, wood and glass to present a unified street fa├žade. This building was also the former home of the Lansing Art Gallery, a showcase for local talent, which has since moved further down the square. In addition, George Nelson was also an interior furniture designer, and contributed two pieces to Internationalism, the marshmallow sofa and the coconut chair! The AT&T Building reflects unabashed brutalism on its Washington Square side, although it has older components facing Capitol Avenue.

Will They Ever Return?

It is impossible to say if these two mid-century styles will ever return in the foreseeable future. World architecture still seems enamored of the postmodern influence, and it shows no signs of abating. However, all things come to an end and it is entirely feasible that they will see a revival if an urge for plain geometry and pure functionalism, not to mention a fondness for raw concrete returns. Brutalism seems to be too strong a term for this concrete-accented simplicity, although it has its uses. The great Venetian humanist and Renaissance man, Alberti, once described architecture as "frozen music." And so it is, but it all depends on where on the scale one stops the score. Brutalism and Internationalism were two trends that helped to mirror and redefine Twentieth-Century architecture, and had a role to play in Lansing as well.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)