Concrete Wonders: 13 Brutalist Buildings in the USA & Britain

While the most theatrical Brutalist buildings remain in the former USSR, there are plenty more of these controversial concrete complexes around the world, and they draw both admiration and ire in Britain and the United States. While Prince Charles of Wales likes to call them ‘monstrous carbuncles,’ and sloppy Brutalist blunders certainly exist, many modernist concrete structures built between the 1950s and ‘80s are striking in their minimalism and solidity.

Geisel Library, San Diego, California

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The Geisel Library at the University of California, San Diego (named for the author best known as Dr. Seuss) was made of reinforced concrete to save money, which enabled a more sculptural design. The 8-story structure by William Pereira has two subterranean levels and was “deliberately designed to be subordinated to the strong, geometrical form of the existing library” on the campus.

Tricorn Center, Portsmouth, England
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This weird building called the Tricorn Center was a retail, nightclub and parking garage complex completed in the mid-1960s and so named because it resembles a tricorn hat from above. It was voted the third ugliest building in the UK in the ‘80s, and demolished in 2004. Charles, Prince of Wales famously called it “a mildewed lump of elephant droppings.”

Barbican Estate, London, England

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This residential complex built in the ‘60s and ’70s stands right in the financial district of London, one of the few examples of British brutalist architecture that’s still mostly intact. There are three tower blocks and 13 terrace blocks positioned around a lake and green squares; the towers are each 404 feet tall.

Brunel University, London, England

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Built in the ‘60s and designed by Richard Sheppard, Robson & Partners, the Brunel University Lecture Center was one of two ‘high Brutalist’ structures prominently featured in Stanley Kubrick’s film A Clockwork Orange.

Brownfield Estate, East London
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Balfron Tower at the Brownfield Estate, an area of social housing in East London, is often considered the sister building of Trellick Tower. Designed by Erno Goldfinger in 1963, it contains 146 residences and features a separate elevator shaft with skybridge connections on every third floor.