A narrow victory for Brutalism was scored on May 3, in Goshen, New York, as the Orange County Legislature rejected, 11 to 10, a proposal to demolish the Paul Rudolph-designed Orange County Government Center, built in 1967. The proposal, which had succeeded in two prior committees, would have replaced the much-hated complex with a neo-Georgian structure. It’s unclear whether the vote reflects a sense of history or of financial rectitude. But with an architectural legacy as endangered as Brutalism, any success is to be valued.
I had the good fortune to see the Rudolph building for the first time last week, and I could not help but wonder: Have any of the disgruntled –those who called it “ugly,” “a monstrosity,” and “so out of place”—seen the county office buildings we have put up lately? Have any of these critics ever been, even remotely, diverted by a DMV waiting room? In recent years, civic architecture has relentlessly inclined towards mediocrity or worse. County office buildings may be the worst of a bad lot, marooned between design competitions that occasionally produce state or federal buildings of distinction and the sort of local pride that seems to avert miserable town halls. These buildings seem to fall in an almost inevitable middle-range of civic apathy; you enter them only to renew a driver’s license and have about the same reaction to their aesthetics as when you see a distant relative at an occasional wedding.
Featureless modernist piles serving as county offices huddle in county seats across the country (typically behind historic courthouses) and this isn’t merely in post-industrial Ohio. Goshen, the seat of Orange County, lies some 50 miles northwest of New York City. Let’s look around the region.
To the south there’s Rockland county, and its county office complex.
Phoenix (August 25, 2010) — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors recently approved an operating agreement that will allow racing to resume at Arizona Motorsports Park (“AMP”) but only under specific noise levels. The facility is situated on 148 acres on Camelback Road and west of Litchfield Road in unincorporated Maricopa County, with Goodyear and Litchfield Park city limits very nearby.