To Preserve or Destroy?

Many people have suggested tearing down “ugly” Brutalist buildings in order to make way for contemporary architecture that more closely reflects modern aesthetic preferences. Brutalism is often seen as a mistake, a regrettable era in architectural design, and so it is easy to gather support for its destruction. This, in turn, has inspired a defense of these structures on the part of those who fear their destruction and removal from the landscape. After all, these structures transformed Boston and other cities in the 20th century, and make up an important chapter in American architectural history. To remove them creates a void in the historical record. So what should be done?

Read these op-eds for and against preservation and adaption of Brutalist buildings, and see which side you agree with more.

Boston City Hall should be torn down

DESTROY: “Boston City Hall Should Be Torn Down,” by Paul McMorrow for the Boston Globe, 2013.

The case for preserving — and improving — brutalist architecture

PRESERVE: “The Case for Preserving - and Improving - Brutalist Architecture," by Amanda Colson Hurley for The Washington Post, 2017.

What Would You Do?

Whether you preserve or destroy, there are consequences associated with both choices — from literal, financial costs and benefits to social and political ones. As advocates for historic preservation know well, each step along the way of reaching a decision on what to do with a historic structure has its own set of crucial questions that must be addressed, carefully weighed and measured for impact. Use the below flowchart to test yourself on what you might do – and see whether your view changes based on the other factors involved.

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To Preserve or Destroy?