Another Blow to Brutalism: Demolition Begins on San Jose’s MLK Jr. Library

Another piece of the brutalist style of architecture has begun to be erased this week, with the news that San Jose’s Martin Luther King Jr. Library began being demolished earlier this week. Built in 1970, it was designed by Norton Curtis, who the Mercury News writes, built a handful of “ugly” government buildings in the city’s downtown in an era when modernism had perhaps lost its way a bit. Here’s a bit more from the Mercury‘s Scott Herhold:

As a library, it was poorly designed, ceding interior space for high ceilings and escalators rather than stacks. I can remember going to the old library in the 1980s and being struck by how small the book collection was.

The design on the outside smacked of Brutalism 101: A huge front of beige-painted concrete faced pedestrians, diving down into archway windows at street level.

The moat around the building separated the library from the street, like a forbidding castle.

The library itself has been closed since 2003, replaced by a newer, more friendly building down the block. In the interim, it served as offices for government agencies. But now, like most brutalist buildings, it’s coming down, leaving one fewer example of the greatly unloved style. At least we’ll always have Boston’s City Hall as a grey, imposing beacon on the hill…for now at least.

Publish date: September 1, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT