In The (Dart)Mouth Of Madness
May 27, 2020 12:20 PM   Subscribe

The hidden demonic horrors of UMass Dartmouth
Paul Rudolph worked in the Brutalist style in his sweeping plans for UMass Dartmouth (then Southeastern Massachusetts University) But was the honored, 'acclaimed and confounding', maligned and forgotten, volatile and visionary Rudolph secretly a Satanist?

‘Not just concrete buildings:’ UMD digs into its architecture

Paul Rudolph’s Designs of Doom

Beyond The Concrete At UMD

Who the Hell Needs White Columns and Ivy? An Up-Close Look at Umass Dartmouth
Although he didn’t harbor any demonic agenda or secret keys to the future, the architect did exercise an impressive power to stun people visually and intellectually through raw presentation, and deeply move them with their environment. Umass is difficult to navigate because the design intentionally forces students to slow down and carefully appreciate the campus (which is why the parking lots are so maddeningly far from the academic buildings). The question as to whether Rudolph created a neo-anti-gothic nightmare or an inspiring piece of art is debatable. Until that’s figured out, keep telling the freshman to stay out of the Group 6 basement, because that’s where the Minotaur lives.
posted by the man of twists and turns (19 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is seriously one of the most depressing places I've ever been to on earth.
posted by odinsdream at 12:28 PM on May 27


Brutalist architecture is shit and should be point out, laughed at, then plowed under. It's not fit for use.
posted by scruss at 12:51 PM on May 27


From the first article: Several elite tunnel systems were put into place. Their purpose is unknown.

That's ... part of the plot for Us.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:01 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I totally disagree with the anti-Brutalist tendency here, and furthermore actively mock the scurrilous Satanic connection. For real, actual modernist magicians that were serious about their spirituality, I encourage one to delve into the work and life of Jack Parsons.

I love Brutalist architecture. It’s satisfying, interesting, widely maligned, full of greebles, and increasingly rare. Satan has nothing to do with it.
posted by mwhybark at 1:07 PM on May 27 [22 favorites]


I love to look at Brutalist buildings, or at least the models but I'm not a fan of working in them. They're loud as hell inside because the sounds just bounces forever and just try to get a cell phone signal in one of them.
posted by octothorpe at 1:17 PM on May 27 [8 favorites]


which is why the parking lots are so maddeningly far from the academic buildings
The commuter lots at the college I went to were so far away from the rest of the campus you had to take a bus to get to class. So that's normal.

But the stairs to nowhere, and the 'it is designed to look like it is floating' and my answer is no it doesn't, and the fact that the architect specified no trees in front of his building just tells me he was not a satanist, just a terrible person.

Also everytime I hear this "Umass is difficult to navigate because the design intentionally forces students to slow down and carefully appreciate the campus."

Again no. Isn't it beauty that stops people in their tracks? Like he's such a great architect he can circumvent cliches. Also, do they give students more than 10 minutes to move between classes? Does the school even take advantage of it's "slowly, carefully appreciated campus"?
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:17 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


the parking lots are so maddeningly far from the academic buildings

*looks at map*

Oh come on! They're like a five minute walk away! Which is an issue for people with mobility problems, but still.

When I'm God-Emperor, people who say stuff like this are gonna have to spend a year working at Chapel Hill where the main lot is a few miles from campus.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:22 PM on May 27 [5 favorites]


I like the quirkiness of some Brutalist architecture. Main probably is usually the long-term unworkableness - the roof leaks, impossible to maintain, too noisy, concrete cancer. The less quirky stuff is often easier to use as a building. But then it doesn't look so interesting.
posted by plonkee at 2:52 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


rmd1023: "Several elite tunnel systems were put into place. Their purpose is unknown."

The college I went to had these. We knew what they were for.
posted by chavenet at 2:56 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


Do you want the Shandor Building? Because this is how you get the Shandor Building.

Also, the tunnels are for LARPing, duh.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:12 PM on May 27 [5 favorites]


Also, too, if the parking for dorm residents isn't so far away that you end up seeing your car about as often as you see your parents/relatives, do u even college bro.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:13 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]


I went to a college whose campus was designed in the ‘60s, and though it was intended to be an architectural extravaganza, with every building designed by a different leading architectural firm of the day, it was also all made entirely from brown brick. Severe, but not brutalist severe.

HOWEVER, the campus lore ascribed every architectural detail to be specifically designed to help quash students rebellions in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The vast, brick-paved mall in the center of campus? Landing pad for helicopters. The oddly wide spaces under the dorm room doors? For rolling tear gas canisters through. And yes, the tunnels connecting the academic buildings? So the riot police can covertly travel from building to building, liberating them one at a time from crazed radicals.

In truth, the campus was explicitly designed as an idyllic pavilion of learning. But where’s the fun in that?
posted by ejs at 3:34 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


I like some brutalist architecture, however when it’s a big campus or government building the phrase “clear fields of fire” often comes to mind unbidden.

Unfortunately most Magical Materials like reinforced concrete aren’t.
posted by Pembquist at 3:43 PM on May 27 [3 favorites]


I don't know shit about Umass Dartmouth other than that it's got a solid Portuguese program (força!), but if you use the words "brutalism" and "Satan" in the same paragraph - hell, even the same general train of thought - and expect either of them to come across as pejorative, especially in conjunction, you're talking to the wrong dude.
posted by heteronym at 7:10 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


I love Brutalist architecture. It’s satisfying, interesting, widely maligned, full of greebles, and increasingly rare. Satan has nothing to do with it.

I went to a commuter school college in Arkansas. I got a scholarship to stay in state that also paid for me to get a second degree in a foreign language and live abroad as an exchange student for a year. That scholarship program was such an experience, I still brag about how it was more academically and intellectually rigorous than the private university I paid for the privilege of attending for my graduate work--which was lazy and overpriced and felt like little more than paying admission into having a well-known credential from a prominent place.

Except both of those institutions were fond of brutalist architecture. Oh my god, those hulking masses of concrete have no place in the profoundly hot and humid south. Everything reeked of mildew. In Arkansas, the buildings would weep condensation off the walls most of the year. Extremely limited (or absent) natural light required armadas of fluorescent lighting that were always flickering and shorting out from the condensation.

Brutalist architecture can look great. Brutalist architecture was made to look at. I would never, ever voluntarily live or work in a brutalist building agian.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 12:02 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]


I grew up in the 70s and I love Brutalist architecture.
posted by candyland at 12:14 PM on May 28 [1 favorite]


> Yep, there’s 6 – 2MATO, Corsair Cafe, Wendy’s, Mondo’s, Plate by Plate, 2Mato, and University Club.

You say 2MATO, I say 2Mato ...
posted by nickzoic at 7:09 PM on May 28


Extremely limited (or absent) natural light required armadas of fluorescent lighting that were always flickering and shorting out from the condensation.

I could certainly talk about the broad strokes of loving brutalism, and feeling dejected by people who get joy from trying to destroy the art one loves. But this is a more specific disagreement/confusion -- the brutalism I've lived and worked in was notable for abundant natural light. Huge windows everywhere and internal windows transferring that light effectively to interior rooms! So I don't know what they did in Arkansas but I don't recognize my beloved in that description.

Likewise with noise, the places I've seen had extensive carpeting and other noise-limiting surfaces to cut down on echo-iness. It's the more traditional stone/brick/tile everywhere buildings, or the recent (decades-strong now) tendency to expose all the building's utility lines in the steel ceiling. Those are the echoy hellspaces of usual life to me.
posted by traveler_ at 9:35 PM on May 28


I don't necessarily object to brutalism in theory, but most of the buildings I have experienced have been unpleasant. The exception that comes to mind is the DC metro system, where the potential really shines. The big simple spaces keep it from feeling claustrophobic and hot, and the bare concrete is low maintenance (though I understand they've started painting it, what the heck?). But it also highlights the limitations: it works because you don't stay there and also you don't have to look at it except when passing through.
posted by tavella at 9:41 AM on May 29


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