Top Opinion Pieces

AN’s hottest critical takes of 2016

Architecture National
AN's hottest critical takes of 2016. Seen here: The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick. (Courtesy Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio)
AN's hottest critical takes of 2016. Seen here: The Vessel by Thomas Heatherwick. (Courtesy Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio)

This year gave us plenty to complain about, and plenty of debates to weigh in on. Writers from all over the country and many disciplines—from curators to economists—have contributed their knowledge to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN), whether in writing or as a precursor to editorials. Here are some of the best editorials and opinion pieces we have published in 2016. You might not agree with all of it, but we hope they are thought-provoking and you enjoy reading them! (See the rest of our Year in Review 2016 articles here.)

American Institute of Architects issues post-election memo saying AIA will "stand ready to work" with Donald Trump. Many members disagree. (Courtesy Jacob Creswick)

American Institute of Architects issues post-election memo saying AIA will “stand ready to work” with Donald Trump. Many members disagree. (Courtesy Jacob Creswick)

AIA pledges to work with Donald Trump, membership recoils
Upon the election of President-Elect Trump, AIA CEO Robert Ivy issued a statement of solidarity with the newly-minted PEOTUS, mainly in support of his infrastructure spending. Our editorial staff responded with a statement questioning this move, and we solicited reactions from architects within and outside of the AIA. The hybrid article helped elicit a pair of apologies from Ivy, and we kept up on the outpouring of reactions as they came in.

Trump’s triplex is a marble-and-onyx-covered ode to Versailles that he calls “comfortable modernism.” It is a $100 million penthouse that sits atop the Trump Tower on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. (Scott Frances/Otto)

Trump’s triplex is a marble-and-onyx-covered ode to Versailles that he calls “comfortable modernism.” It is a $100 million penthouse that sits atop the Trump Tower on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. (Scott Frances/Otto)

How Donald Trump transformed New York without any regard for design quality
When The Donald was still one of a cadre of GOP candidates, Editor-in-Chief William Menking took a historical look at the architecture of Trump and the critical reactions it has garnered.

Cover page of the competition brief. (Image via Building the Border Wall)

Cover page of the competition brief. (Image via Building the Border Wall)

Designing the Border Wall?
When outrage erupted from the online competition “Building the Border Wall?” and many were discussing the ethics of building such a wall, architect and educator Ronald Rael took a closer look at the nuances of the conditions at the border.

Branden Klayko/AN

(Branden Klayko/AN)

Why the Met Breuer Matters
When the newly-refurbished Met Breuer opened, Senior Editor Matt Shaw visited the building with Associate Professor and Director of Historic Preservation at Columbia GSAPP Jorge Otero-Pailos to take a look at how it shaped up and what it means for New York.

(Courtesy MAS)

(Courtesy MAS)

What happened to the MAS?
Why has the Municipal Art Society—a once-proud organization with a century and half of history—been handed over to the real estate industry?

La Tourette by Le Corbusier. (C. E. Jeanneret-Gris, University of Michigan Photographic Services)

La Tourette by Le Corbusier. (C. E. Jeanneret-Gris, University of Michigan Photographic Services)

Female-ness, Corb, and Contraband
Architect Andreas Angelidakis and artist Juliana Huxtable’s contribution was the first in a series of partnerships between AN and Façadomy, a contemporary journal that reflects on issues of identity through the lenses of art and architecture.

Preston Scott Cohen, Inc. - Revolving Detroit. (Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.)

Preston Scott Cohen, Inc. – Revolving Detroit. (Courtesy Preston Scott Cohen, Inc.)

Is the U.S.’s Biennale Pavilion actually the Quicken Loans Pavilion?
Editor-in-Chief William Menking was less than enthused about the proposals put forth by the curators of the 2016 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Biennale.

(Nic Lehoux)

(Nic Lehoux)

Renzo Piano’s Whitney is an architectural “tourist trap”
One year after its opening, Senior Editor Matt Shaw reflected on what the new Whitney Museum of American Art brings to the city of New York and its architecture heritage.

Alvin Boyarsky on elephant outside the AA in 1978. (Courtesy Nicholas Boyarsky)

Alvin Boyarsky on elephant outside the AA in 1978. (Courtesy Nicholas Boyarsky)

Architectural education is broken—here’s how to fix it
Los Angeles architect Peter Zellner wonders what can be better in architecture education today, and posits a new direction for the academy. Todd Gannon, cultural studies coordinator at SCI-Arc, issued a response to the following article that can be found here. Zellner subsequently launched a school.

The new SITE Santa Fe. (SHoP)

The new SITE Santa Fe. (SHoP)

Respecting the SITE
An odd design by an odd choice of architect at SITE Santa Fe raises questions about what the Southwest is really about, says Senior Editor Matt Shaw.

(Courtesy ollie)

(Courtesy ollie)

Are micro-apartments a revolutionary trend? Or are developers exploiting an out-of-control market?
The recent trend of smaller units with more amenities could be part of a solution to the housing crisis, but it has the potential to be a territorial concession for the renting class, says Web Editor Zachary Edelson.

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. (Jamelle Bouie / Flickr)

Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, following the police killing of Michael Brown. (Jamelle Bouie / Flickr)

How institutionalized racism and housing policy segregated our cities
Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute details the history of state-sponsored segregation, focusing on housing policy in the postwar era to today.

(Al Jazeera English / Wikimedia Commons)

(Al Jazeera English / Wikimedia Commons)

After Oakland, here’s how architects can help make DIY spaces safer
Princeton, New Jersey–based Melissa J. Frost and Seattle-based Susan Surface are initiating a discussion to educate the operators of DIY venues about safety measures to prevent injuries at their spaces.

Joel Sanders’s “24/7 Business Hotel.” (Courtesy Joel Sanders)

Joel Sanders’s “24/7 Business Hotel.” (Courtesy Joel Sanders)

Joel Sanders on the past and future of gender issues in architecture
Alessandro Bava of London-based collective åyr sits down with STUD author Joel Sanders to discuss the 20th anniversary of the book and what it means today.

The 150-foot-tall steel structure has been compared to a bedbug, a beehive, and a döner kebab. Its base is 50 feet wide and its upper span measures 150 feet. (Courtesy Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio)

The 150-foot-tall steel structure has been compared to a bedbug, a beehive, and a döner kebab. Its base is 50 feet wide and its upper span measures 150 feet. (Courtesy Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio)

What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big?
Associate Editor Audrey Wachs wonders what the $200 million geegaw at Hudson Yards will offer the city of New York.

Renders for the planned St. John's Center near Pier 40 and Hudson River Park. The tallest of its towers—at 420 feet—is three times the height of the surrounding built texture and certain to have a deeply deleterious and distorting impact on the neighborhood that it and its companions will overwhelm.(Courtesy COOKFOX)

Renders for the planned St. John’s Center near Pier 40 and Hudson River Park. The tallest of its towers—at 420 feet—is three times the height of the surrounding built texture and certain to have a deeply deleterious and distorting impact on the neighborhood that it and its companions will overwhelm.(Courtesy COOKFOX)

Hudson River Park/Pier 40 deal reveals the tangled web of calculated collusion that shapes NYC
Michael Sorkin “follows the money” to expose a decades-long history of a controversial site on New York’s west side.

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