What Are the Worst Architectural Movements of the Century?

Architects are always trying to push boundaries that will spur trends, spark movements and inspire future creations. Just like with clothing trends, however, not everything in the architectural universe goes down in history as a good idea. Here are some building trends that should never be popularized again.


The brutalism style of architecture rose to popularity in the latter part of the 1960s. It was mostly used in buildings around the northeastern part of the U.S., though brutalist structures can be seen throughout the world. It employed concrete as its main material and was defined by square shapes, hard edges and an arguably modern aesthetic for the time. According to Slate magazine, one of the most well-known examples of the brutalist style is Boston City Hall, which was constructed in 1968 and remains in operation today.

According to the source, concrete was employed at the time because builders thought it was essentially indestructible and that it would need little to no maintenance. This is not true, however, as concrete can break down chemically from within, causing a brownish discoloration. Concrete also reveals rust stains from the metal structures supporting it, which contributes to the dirty, faded exterior that defines many of these buildings today.

Slate noted that most residents despise brutalist style due to its harsh, cold and industrial appearance. However, many photographers, designers and people in the architectural industry respect the design movement for its boldness and for the iconic structures it’s created. Because of general public dislike, however, it probably won’t be popping up in schools or office buildings anytime soon.

International style

International style can be viewed as a precursor to brutalism, as it became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. This style of architecture, though not as widely hated as its later descendant, is defined by similarly “modern” clean lines and lack of intricate detail – it’s often defined as “corporate architecture” because it influenced many skyscrapers and office buildings.

According to Columbia University architecture instructor Andrew S. Dolkart, international style was intended to popularize simple geometric styles. Unfortunately, its experimental aesthetic was responsible for creating some unattractive structure that gave the entire design movement a reputation. The most notorious international style structures are undoubtedly the Lever House and the Seagram Building, both located in New York City. Both are simple skyscrapers that are classic examples of international style. They have a simple square or rectangular shape and windows positioned like a grid, as well as crisp 90-degree corners on all sides.

While not beloved by most, international style is visible in cities all over the world and has largely gained acceptance as a go-to aesthetic for corporate entities. Modern architects might create structures with more stylistic details, but many still find themselves borrowing the simple framework and clean lines that are visible in international style.Training-CTA




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