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Behold the Court of Justice (Provincial Offenses Office, no kidding), Brantford, Ontario, in Canada, our neighbor to the north. Kind of looks like a water-boarding salon. Or maybe try a relaxing session in the Iron Maiden sensory deprivation casket! Tired of manicures? Have your fingernails removed altogether up in the second floor confessional spa. Ever notice that our buildings “speak” to us. Well, not like pals at the brew-pub, of course, but they do get their point across. Has the Western world ever seen a building as brutal, cold, and tyrannical as this doozie? I sure wouldn’t want to break the new personal gender pronoun law they passed a few years ago, with its rather severe penalties. By the way, notice the little gray door just off the ground floor corner? My Gawd, what comes in-and-out of there at two-thirty in the morning? Demetrius Kappos, who nominated this humdinger, points out that Brantford, Ont, is the hometown of Alexander Graham Bell and Wayne Gretzky. All honor to them… I guess.

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

22 Responses to “February 2020”

  1. DrTomSchmidt February 3, 2020 at 1:38 pm #

    Ah, Brutalism. The Tweed courthouse might have been expensive, but that NYc built things that remain beautiful today, like the Tweed Courthouse.

    The reformed governments? Not so much.

    • sitka1721 February 4, 2020 at 2:35 am #

      I’m assuming that if someone ever wants to film a remake of Orwell’s book “1984”, since the last version was in 1984, that they could make the movie in Ontario and use this building for the “Ministy of Justice”. I’ll bet there is an area in there somewhere that would be perfect for using as “Room 101” where Winston Smith has a terrifying encounter with rats.

    • RobH March 4, 2020 at 8:58 am #

      Hi from the UK

      I used to find brutalism disgusting until seeing the Barbican estate in London changed my mind. The tall apartments mostly. The texture of the concrete is splendid, and some of the curves and angles

      That courthouse is like the Queen Elizabeth hall which seems grim as a theatre, the 50s Royal Festival Hall being charming in comparison

      But as a courthouse I feel intimidated by this ‘eyesore’ example

      Is that not a good thing for representing a court? Heavy and serious
      James chose an interesting angle attacking it for representing itself honestly

      I looked at the Tweed Courthouse. It’s a splendid building equally intimidating… But if you lived in west London half the buildings look like that and you’d be glad for some cement 🙂


  2. tucsonspur February 4, 2020 at 4:20 am #

    Well, it’s a good thing that justice is blind so that it doesn’t have to see this spiritless sarcophagus. Yes Doc, while justice must not be bashful, it should not be brutal and bleak. These structures are a reminder however, that it can often be quite severe.

    Has the Maginot Line been disassembled and moved here in part to fabricate this folly of a fortress? Is its fierce façade meant to frighten the felons?

    The edifice seems to explore a new style, a style one might call ‘Pall Bearer Pillbox.’ The curved container flanking the Pillboxes is a soothing reminder that if one has done something nefarious, it’s not too late to reach into that hip pocket and take a bracing, nurturing nip.

    But then, on a more positive note, the buildings can remind you of the stolidity of justice, its stoicism needed for society’s success.

    “Revenge? Nah, I’m too lazy. I’m gonna sit here and let karma fuck you up.”

  3. Wxtwxtr February 4, 2020 at 11:24 am #

    The Yale Art and Architecture building of 1963 has better overwatch.

    I think that door is an afterthought to allow the killbots therein to step outside for a smoke between rendition sessions. And perhaps the courtyard fountain(?) symbolizes the Fabian incrementalism of the TPSTS – the Total Police Surveillance Terror State.

    The police station at the corner of 22nd St and Alvernon in Tucson (no pic) is of a different brutal era and even more sinister looking. Funny how architects can inadvertently(?) express societies subconscious zeitgeist.

  4. Zarko Straadi February 7, 2020 at 12:22 am #

    Welcome to the First Annual Hunger Games!

  5. Laura Louzader February 7, 2020 at 3:51 pm #

    Actually, Jim, we HAVE seen a few buildings even colder, more brutal, and more tyrannical, right here on your site. I’m thinking of your August 2019 Eyesore of the Month, the library in Edmonton, Alberta public library.

    I guess I’ve seen so many buildings of this ilk and worse, that I’ve become desensitized.

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    • Laura Louzader February 7, 2020 at 3:56 pm #

      Wish i could edit my comment above,Sorry for the repetition.

  6. whatever2020 February 10, 2020 at 10:25 am #

    Is this the building where they developed the corona virus, only to be stolen by a Chinese spy? It sure looks like it could be such a place.

  7. My Point of View February 10, 2020 at 2:54 pm #

    Obviously built with an eye to bomb-resistance in this age of car bombs. But it looks like one of those WW-2 concrete pillboxes for coastal defense uses, such as this one:

  8. zekesdad February 17, 2020 at 3:17 pm #

    Brutalism would seem a more appropriate style for a prison aka a”correctional facility”, than a courthouse. Oppressive and depressing would at least have some historic precedents such as The Bastille, and The Tombs. I don’t know if they have the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” in Canada. They do in the U.S. though, and traditionally courthouses were often built in an uplifting style that celebrated such a noble ideal. It seems that’s what Trump’s pending executive order mandating classical federal buildings is trying to get back to. I doubt that most architects working today can pull that off, and would instead produce cartoonish, kitschy or sterile versions of federal buildings.

  9. Chrysanthemum February 20, 2020 at 8:49 pm #

    JMG is discussing this topic at Ecosophia.org this week, and several of the commentariat there mentioned your work. I posted a link to here but found to my great sadness that several early years are missing. Is there any way to restore all the EotM posts? I’d be glad to help if possible.

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  10. MX Vet 57 February 23, 2020 at 12:18 pm #

    That thing looks like it belongs on a U.S. Navy ship as the superstructure.

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  14. davidfjelldal December 16, 2021 at 9:38 am #

    Perhaps it look’s just a bit harsh for a gov. building.

    David from https://refinansieringmedbetalingsanmerkning.no/

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  1. Clusterfuck Nation:February 2020 – chaos - February 4, 2020

    […] Gretzky. All honor to them… I guess.Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon PageThe post February 2020 appeared first […]