Critic blames 60s Brutalism for Boston marathon bombings
US architecture critic James Russell has singled out the University of Massachusetts’ sixties architecture for alienating alleged Boston marathon bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev
The Bloomberg News architecture critic criticised the Rudolph-designed University of Massachusetts Dartmouth campus as ‘architecture that tyrannises’ and suggested the built environment was to blame for the tragedy.
Dzhokhar – who is currently being treated in hospital under police guard – was studying marine biology at the University of Massachusetts’ Dartmouth campus. He is the younger of the two brothers thought to be responsible for the tragic blasts which killed three people and injured 183 others.
Writing on his blog, Russell dubbed the Rudolph-masterplanned estate a‘strange mix of technocratic rationalism and architectural megalomania’.
He added: ‘The state appears to have skimped on everything but concrete and dozens of acres of parking. Its ambience is far more sewage-treatment plant than college. Scraggly looking low hedges and a few wind-blown trees constitute the landscape-architecture design.’
He continued: ‘Almost every surface is concrete. Though much of it is quite beautifully cast, the muddy [colour] of the surface sucks both light and the life out of the place. Hallways are dim, classrooms are only slightly less so.’
Commenting on Dzhokar’s motivation for the bombing, he said: ‘I wondered about the effect of such a deeply impersonal place. It’s isolated at the suburban edge and unintentionally expressive of the assembly-line education that’s become the cost-driven norm.
‘Does such a place aid the alienation — or, at least, impede the forming of deep personal bonds — of even a smart, sociable kid?’
He concluded: ‘It sounds much too glib an explanation — as the numerous other theories we are now hearing are likely to be — but I can’t help thinking it.’
Read James Russell’s blog post and AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto’s comment Why did James Russell suggest Brutalist architecture caused the Boston Marathon bombings?