Brutalism is a polarizing style of architecture. When I talk about the Orange County Government Center and the surrounding controversy regarding its partial demolition, many people shrug. Historical preservation is a tricky balance. Protect buildings too strictly and you stand in the way of progress. Save nothing and you lose your history, your art, and the poetry of a place.
I first traveled to Goshen, NY to photograph the Orange County Government Center when the proposals to remodel/destroy the structure were in full swing. Lawsuits were flying back and forth, as well as proposals for the repurposing of the building into other uses, along with pleas for repairs and historical preservation.
The building was built in 1967 and designed by celebrated architect Paul Rudolph. The space contained the main office of the government of Orange County with most county officials' offices of the county legislature, the records of Orange County Court and an office of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles on the first floor. The late architect Zaha Hadid noted:
"The complex is arranged as a sequence of interconnected indoor and outdoor public spaces that flow into each other. There is an integrity within the design that displays a commitment to engagement and connectivity. As a center for civic governance, it enacted democracy through spatial integration, not through the separation of elected representatives from their constituents."
When I first visited last year, the space was closed to visitors and its future was locked up in court.
I have since visited several times and watched as the building changed from sleeping modernism to a gutted skeleton. I'm not sure what the future holds for this structure, but I'll be sure to revisit.
View the rest of my images here: Orange County Government Center, Goshen, NY