Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Portfolio | Orange County Government Center

When the exit says “Goshen,” it means only one thing to me: Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center, long threatened with demolition, still standing. (Architect maps of the world light up in some strange places.) Long a poster child for the disdainful way so many Brutalist buildings have been treated by the public entities which own them, this building may yet see new life. As it is, untrimmed summer foliage is giving the building’s courtyard a rare lushness. Walking around the building, one is better able to see its structure, which is a series of long tubes, blank on the sides, windowed on the ends, bundled to make a building. Where they gap or get sliced in two, Rudolph inserted staircases, internal and external, as well as courtyards, ramps, and other multi-level open spaces. Given all the roofs and corners, I’m not surprised it leaks. Seeing it again made me even more sure something amazing could and should happen there. If Bjarke Ingels can populate the world with man-made mountains, we can save the ones we already have.

Sidenote: I wish the New York Times would use more flattering photographs. It feels partisan to portray it as looming and decrepit. I can make it look better with my iPhone.