Judgment City is that part of town where all the buildings are of medium height, usually located near expressways, and built between the early Sixties and the mid-Eighties. Its style is some variation on International Style as exemplified by the almost inevitable flat roofs with HVAC equipment forming a "sore thumb" addendum to the roof lines. Judgment City gets its name from the sterile corporate complex that is the setting for most of the plot of Albert Brooks' satiric comedy DEFENDING YOUR LIFE.

Beige is the predominant theme of Judgment City -- beige for the cast-concrete slabs that form some buildings, most bridges, and practically all covered parking structures attached to those buildings that no longer are surrounded by enormous asphalt parking lots. Beige also shows up in more overtly pseudo-sophisticated building techniques like pebbled walls (usually more concrete but with a deliberate random design), or the vertical walls with pretend fluting that are made of a whiter shade of concrete.

Judgment City areas generally push retail and housing to its edges because in these neo-downtowns, rents are too expensive to support low-rise concerns.

If, however, you come across a newer area that is not flat-roofed and beige, but equally corporate with such building features as monopitch or steepled roofs, ziggurat-edged walls and exposed structural elements like gray PPG plate glass or red girders, you've gone beyond Modern into Post-Modern: Legoland. (See "Legoland".)
-- Recall that in Albert Brooks' movie DEFENDING YOUR LIFE, the newer retail outlets in Judgment City, like nail salons or frozen-yogurt shops, were going up on the edge of town.

by al-in-chgo May 20, 2011
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