Brutalist Wonders or Blunders? Architecture by Marcel Breuer

Hotel Le Flaine Ski Resort, France

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Constructed in 1969, France’s Hotel le Flaine is an alpine ski resort with none of the usual alpine vernacular, looming over a cliff as if it might slide right down on its own gigantic ski.

Annunciation Priory, Bismarck, North Dakota

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Breuer gave the Annunciation Priory in North Dakota a bell banner just as striking as that of St. John’s, the 100-foot concrete structure rising into the air above the complex like the sail of a ship. The Sisters of this Bismarck facility see in Breuer’s design a “refreshing, freeing and serene” sense of moderation, saying “This simplicity also highlights the priory of prayer and the spiritual. The buildings have an aura of peacefulness, serenity and focus that seems to override all of the busy-ness of everything that goes on within their walls. Breuer’s skill at framing and utilizing nature keeps one connected to the mysteries of nature, the passing of time and season. Light and shadow play silent dramas, creating constantly changing patterns each hour and season.”

IBM Research Center, La Gaude, France

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Elevated on Y-shaped concrete pillars, the four wings of the IBM Research Center and Forum in La Gaude, France overlook the French Riviera. The column-free internal space allows light to penetrate the entirety of the building, and the raw concrete color and texture echoes that of the surrounding mountains.

IBM Building, Boca Raton, Florida

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The architect also helmed the design of IBM’s offices in Boca Raton, Florida, inaugurated in 1970. The company seen as the future of information technology at the time wanted an appropriately cutting-edge facility that rejected the polish of the prevailing International Style. The building is practical and monolithic, calling to mind skeletal structures.