City-County Building, 200 East Washington Street

Recent Past. Continuing in our exploration of preservation related Building Language terms for Preservation Month, today we’ll explore the recent past. The recent past is defined as cultural resources that are less than 50 years of age. The preservation of recent past properties can often be of a controversial nature, with the threat of demolition always at the forefront of these resources. Currently, recent past sites include those from the second half of the 1960s and now into the 1970s and soon, the 1980s. As most properties within this time period feature mid-Twentieth century architecture, many do not see or understand the architectural significance of the period. Organizations including the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Indiana Landmarks have recent past programs designed to educate and create awareness about the importance of recent past architecture. Recent past resources can range from hotels, sports stadiums, airports, banks, restaurants, and homes.

Indianapolis features some prominent recent past properties, including two notable ones downtown. Although reaching its 50th birthday this year, the City-County Building (200 East Washington Street) is one that exhibits the complexity of recent past architecture. The City-County Building is an example of International Style architecture with a prominent glass curtain wall. The City-County Building was built by a group of designers, including Lennox, Matthews, Simmons & Ford, Inc. The City-County Building towers at 28 stories in height, known as the first structure to be built taller than the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. Although it stands in stark contrast to the downtown buildings dating from the first half of the 20th century, it now stands as an excellent example of the International Style.

Minton-Capehart Federal Building, 501 North Pennsylvania Street

Another prominent government building in downtown Indianapolis is the Minton-Capehart Federal Building (501 North Pennsylvania Street). The Minton-Capehart Federal Building dates from 1976, designed by Woollen Associates. The structure is notable for its prominent use of the architectural style of Brutalism. Brutalism is known for its rough concrete finishes, blocky forms, with a linear focus. Many Brutalism buildings across the county have suffered demolition due to the lack of understanding of the architectural style. The New York Times recently posted an interesting debate titled “Are Some Buildings Too Ugly to Survive?” highlighting the Brutalism style as an example. The Minton-Capehart Federal Building is located at a prominent location on Pennsylvania, overlooking the World War Memorial Plaza. It is one of the fine examples of Brutalism found in Indianapolis.

Add it to your vocabulary – how might one use today’s Building Language term in their everyday life?

During road trips, we look for unique drive-in diners and motels that exhibit some of the fun aspects of recent past architecture.

One response to “Building Language: Recent Past”

  1. basil berchekas jr says:

    These two buildings also occupy prominent locations that residents identify with. Hopefully they’ll be around to gain actual historic status, making the mixture of building styles more “eclectic” in Indianapolis…

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