Modern twentieth century architecture has always inspired a variety of passionate responses—especially the ‘brutalist’ buildings at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and Amherst. To explore their architectural heritage and its preservation, the two campuses will hold a two-day symposium, Brutalism + the Public University: Past, Present, and Future on October 22 and 23.
The symposium—part of the UMassBrut collaborative—will provide a unique platform that brings together a team of distinguished scholars, industry professionals, artists, and passionate citizens with an interest in the preservation of mid to late twentieth-century architecture. The symposium’s goal is to create a dynamic, cross-disciplinary conversation among all participants on how to provide stewardship of these buildings for the future. Each day will feature professional workshops, scholarly lectures, guided campus tours, public art exhibitions, and creative activities (including video projections on the architectural facades).
Participants will discuss Brutalist architecture (history and design) and explore the issues of preservation and adaption unique to these modernist concrete structures. Both campuses contain extensive examples of mid-century Brutalist concrete architecture by world-renowned modernist architects including Paul Rudolph, Marcel Breuer, Kevin Roche, Hugh Stubbins, and Edward Durell Stone. These landmark structures will be accessible in Dartmouth on Friday, October 22, and in Amherst on Saturday, October 23.
Keynote presentations on both days will include Chandler McCoy and Ana Paula Arato Gonçalves of the Getty Conservation Institute’s Conserving Modern Architecture Initiative. Speakers include faculty from UMass and visiting faculty from Brown, Harvard, Roger Williams, Rutgers, Columbia and the University of South Carolina. Other speakers include distinguished professionals from the fields of architecture, historic preservation, engineering, construction, lighting, graphic, interior design, and professional staff from UMass and the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance.
The UMassBrut group, organizers of the symposium, consists of UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst faculty, staff, students, and interested parties dedicated to celebrating, preserving, and reimagining mid-century Brutalist public architecture. The group will continue to organize events and engage others in the UMass system and the public at large.
The symposium will also feature several free interactive art events in Dartmouth on October 22, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Events include presentations, sculpture viewings, and outdoor projection pieces.
The symposium is sponsored by Suffolk Construction, Finegold Alexander Architects, Dimeo Construction Co., Goody Clancy, JCJ Architecture, Stantec and Docomomo US/New England, and through generous grants from UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst colleges and departments.