Modernism with the variant of Brutalism came about during the reconstruction era, when architecture shifted to simple style and the re-use of materials. In the early 1950s, the term “brutalist” became a popular way to describe architecture that sought to present an honest architectural expression by exposing a building’s structure and mechanics. If you look around many cities that expanded and began building in the 1960s today, you will see examples of Brutalism in architecture.

Highly expressive, this design showcases raw architecture with an emphasis on textures, construction and materials, along with large scale forms. Brutalist buildings are monumental in scale, and the materials used are raw concrete (beton brut), glass, rough-hewn stone, steel and brick. This style often includes massive concrete shapes colliding abruptly. Light wells and windows are small, with consideration made to diffuse and direct light into the building.

Waffle slabs and cantilevers (a rigid structural element that extends horizontally and is supported only at one end) are popular on brutalist buildings, as are rough and unfinished surfaces. Additionally, ventilation and service ducts are part of the edifice.

There are a handful of examples of Brutalist architecture throughout Denver and Boulder. On your next drive in these areas, take a look around you and you just might spot a few brutalist buildings!

The Denver Architecture Foundation is a great site to find articles and videos about brutalism in our community:

Have you seen other buildings that are brutalist architecture? Drop us a line and let us know!

In Brutalism the structural form is clearly displayed, and the elements are uncomplicated. I like the authentic use of materials in this type of architecture.Lynn Coit, President and Founder of Elsy Studios in Denver

7 News Building - Denver

Arapahoe Community College - Littleton

Boettcher Memorial Center - Denver Botanical Gardens

Colorado Education Association - Denver

CU Engineering - Boulder

Federal Reserve Building - Denver

Law Offices - Littleton

Thornton Civic Center

United Airlines Pilot Training Center - Denver

Brutalist architecture photos courtesy of: Ryan Conway