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An Architectural Rescue Gone Wrong

A Brutalist complex meant to represent progressive government through ambitious design is no longer. What happened to Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Government Center?
Closed since 2011, Orange County Government Center will finally reopen next month but it is nothing short of a missed design opportunity.
Closed since 2011, Orange County Government Center will finally reopen next month but it is nothing short of a missed design opportunity.Mark Byrnes/CityLab

There was a brief moment when it looked like the vacant Government Center in Orange County, New York, was on its way to a thoughtful restoration—a rare win for advocates of preserving the often-unpopular icons of Brutalist architecture.

Built in 1971 in the village of Goshen, the striking complex is composed of three buildings with 87 roofs; it’s revered for its audacious design and recognized as one of architect Paul Rudolph’s very best public projects.