Architect to Buy & RePurpose Orange County’s Government Center

Something I learned in architecture school at Texas A&M (WHOOP), is that when it comes to green/sustainable architecture, the greenest buildings are the ones that already exist.  So if a building is no longer serving its original purpose (or if people just plain don’t like the building), repurposing it is a great option, as is the case of Paul Rudolph’s brutalist Orange County Government Center in Goshen, California.  People either love or hate this building, and despite its eligibility for landmark status, its fate in undecided.  Enter Gene Kaufman, a partner at Gwathmey Siegal Kaufman Architects, who has offered to buy and repurpose the building.

According to a report by Architectural Record, Kaufman offered to buy the building and transform it into artist studios (which would also feature exhibitions and community meetings), under the single condition that Kaufman’s firm, Gwathmey Siegel Kaufman, must be commissioned to design the city’s brand new government building near the site of Rudolph’s brutalist landmark (likely the existing building’s parking lot). The report from Architectural Record came roughly a week after an 18-3 vote was made, securing plans to restore part of the Orange County Government Center and returning it to its earlier use.

Architecture enthusiasts and experts call this 1967 building a prime example of raw Brutalist style, while others in the town of Goshen call the Government Center an eyesore.  In case you’re wondering, the town is known for its historic harness-racing track and their Greek Revival, Federal and Victorian-style houses. Kaufman did not propose a cash purchase, only suggesting the county can afford to renovate the existing  Government Center, and then use the money saved (from discounted consulting fees, $0 of demolition costs, etc.) to build a new Government Center.

Save the building. Save the (historically Brutalist) world.

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