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UMass Brut

UMass Brut

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On this page you'll find: Who We Are | Brut Bites |  Resources

Who We Are  

A UMass Amherst and UMass Dartmouth collaborative advocacy group of faculty, staff, and students dedicated to celebrating, preserving and reimagining our Brutalist architecture.


To raise awareness of the relevance and international significance of our Brutalist heritage in order to foster pride in our campuses.


“Brutalism” describes the progressive, dynamic architecture favored internationally from the mid-1950s through the mid-1970s which gave form to truthfulness using raw concrete and other textured materials. Architects from around the world employed this dramatic vocabulary to express the ambitious programs of socially progressive civic and educational institutions. Today, new appreciation is growing for these architects and their patrons as humanists who sought to express beneficial social programs and engage with their users and environments through architectural form.


A kick-off yearlong campaign will take place over the course of 2020-2021 and features a series of events and activities such as lectures, tours, gallery exhibitions, visual installations, engaging photo contests and social media outreach to engage audiencs on campus and beyond.


The main campaign event will be a two-day symposium entitled Brutalism + the Public University: Past, Present and Future to be held at UMass Dartmouth on Friday, October 22nd and at UMass Amherst Saturday, October 23rd, 2021. The symposium will include nationwide industry professionals, as well as faculty, students, and staff of all backgrounds with an interest in Brutalism.   Presenters will share their experiences working with Brutalist structures especially in the public realm. The goal of the symposium is to create a dynamic, cross-disciplinary conversation among all participants on how we may conserve and provide stewardship of our buildings for the future

Brutalism on Our Campuses

UMass Dartmouth is one of the most dramatic Brutalist campuses ever built. Beginning in 1963, Paul Rudolph (1918-1997) designed its master plan and core structures in an expressive manner made cohesive by using a fluted concrete block for all structures. At the same time, the UMass Amherst administration redesigned their nineteenth-century campus in 1963 to meet the needs of a rapidly growing university with a new master plan by Hideo Sasaki. Making UMass a veritable showcase of Brutalism at its zenith, UMass Amherst commissioned the landmark Fine Arts Center (1974) by Kevin Roche and Lincoln Campus Center by Marcel Breuer (1970) as well other key structures by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Edward Durrell Stone and Hugh Stubbins. Today, the buildings of both campuses are being reimagined for the twenty-first century by respecting their architectural integrity while enhancing their sustainability and accessibility.


Beyond this yearlong campaign, the group aims to continue holding regular meetings, maintaining a social media presence, hosting annual tours, and continuing to plan engaging events and activities on both campuses. The two universities intend to use this momentum to apply for grants and promote future funding for the conservation of the buildings on each campus. Most importantly, raising appreciation for the architecture of these two landmark campuses will raise pride in UMass as a whole. 

For more information contact Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham

Brut Bites

During four Mondays in April 2021 UMass Brut partnered with the Amherst Historical Society and Museum, the Jones Library and the UMass Public History Program to present talks on the history of the campus and its Brutalist architecture.  The talks engaged over 100 participants and will become part of an oral history project recording memories, opinions, and reflections about the modernist buildings on campus. If you would like to be included, share written stories, or suggest topics for future talks, please fill out this survey

April 12: UMass Then/Now (click to see video)
Speakers: Ron Michaud and Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham
Description: The UMass campus has always been a place of dynamic change. By pairing archival photographs with contemporary images, retired faculty member Ron Michaud and Senior Campus Planner Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham will invite participants to reflect on how the campus has changed over time.  What’s been lost? What’s been gained?

April 19: The History and Cultures of the Southwest Residential Complex (click to see video)
Speaker: Timothy M. Rohan
Description: Completed in 1968, the towers of the Southwest Residential Complex have made a big impact on our local landscape. What is the history of this large complex, which can house up to 5500 students?  What does it tell us about modern architecture, the campus, the community, and the region in the 1960s and after? How did its diverse communities create their own unique cultures within this “big city”-like environment?

April 26: Unbuilt UMass: A History of Campus Master Plans (click to see video)
Speaker: Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham
Description: The UMass campus is familiar to many, but was it always going to look the way it does today? How has the campus been envisioned over time?  What forces and priorities shaped the plans that we recognize today, and what other plans were never realized?  Peek inside the history of campus master plans with Senior Campus Planner Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham to explore the evolving vision for the UMass Amherst campus, from its beginning to the present.

May 3: The History of the Randolph W. Bromery Fine Arts Center (click to see video)
Speakers: L. Carl Fiocchi and Margaret Vickery
Description: Since its founding in 1975, The Randolph W. Bromery Center for the Arts (formerly Fine Arts Center) has been a central force in the cultural, social and academic life of the Town of Amherst, the University, the Five College campuses, and the Pioneer Valley.  This uncompromisingly modern concrete building consists of several distinctly different units which are combined to form a powerful architectural sculpture.  It was conceived as a gateway to the campus at the south end of the pond and its monumental arcade serves as a pedestrian link between the east and west campus on what was formerly Ellis drive.  The complex contributes to both positive and negative perception of Brutalist concrete buildings and its history is marred with celebrations as well as expressions of discontent.  The presenters will discuss the history of its development and address the myths and perceptions related to its aesthetic and environmental appeal (and lack thereof).  The audience will be invited to share memories of its impact on life in Amherst and the surrounding community.


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