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1925–2018

Jencks, Eisenman, FAT, and more remember Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi passed away at age 93 on Wednesday, and there has been an overwhelming response from the architecture community. From dedicated disciples to former intellectual foes, many architects and critics have taken a moment to recognize how deep and impactful Venturi’s legacy really is. We collected some of those tributes here. Deborah Berke: With the passing of Robert Venturi, Architecture has lost one of its greats. But to say Bob belonged to Architecture with a capital “A” is to limit the scope of his contribution. Bob was an artist, an adventurer, an agitator. Architecture, design, planning, and writing were his media, but his goal—brilliantly achieved—was to change culture. Alongside his equally gifted collaborator, Denise Scott Brown, he opened the profession to new possibilities and rewrote the canon of architectural history. He also developed a visual language—infused with wit, color, pattern, and erudition—that reverberates far beyond his buildings. Barbara Bestor: Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction (written in 1966 the year I was born!) was a revelation for me as a youngster. Though I was immersed in neo-modernist design school, I was drawn to the crazy formal and informal conversations he described between architects from ancient Rome to Victorian England... It taught me that architectural discourse is in fact buildings IN DISCOURSE with other buildings! Also with cities and with people and with art! This is still big news in our current “post-human” design moment! Plus who doesn’t love seeing the decorated sheds of Las Vegas as lovingly explicated by Venturi and his partner Denise Scott-Brown? Personally I relish checking out the lovely little “bird houses” of Block Island (1979 Coxe-Hayden) every summer, and they have had a direct impact in freeing me to reinterpret vernacular forms in my own work. Jean-Louis Cohen: In an age of despair in respect to the practice of architecture, as vulgarized modernization had upstaged poetic modernism, Robert Venturi’s 1966 book came as a revelation. It allowed for a reconciliation between Le Corbusier, Aalto, Bernini and Balthazar Neumann, recruiting apparently incompatible buildings to cast a fascinating menagerie of shapes and patterns. If anything, his writings and his early projects stimulated for my generation the appetite for culture and the ability to play with single objects and the city at large. Bob reminded us that, before generating form, architecture is a discipline of observation, alert to the everyday landscape, as well as towards its own linguistic fetishisms and obsessions. Neil M. Denari: The sphere of influence that Robert Venturi constructed over the course of his estimable career is much larger than we think, because the Postmodern label did not, in the end, constrain the ways in which architects with many ideologies have approached and utilized his theories. I feel like Complexity and Contradiction is the architectural equivalent of Gödel’s Theory of Incompleteness- a set of ideas (maybe even laws) that outlines how complexity is not simply the antidote to boredom, but more importantly, that it is a persistent contemporary condition. His shadow is long, his ideas are transcendent, and I, for one, will always owe a debt to his immense contributions to the field.  
 
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High five from RV.

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Peter Eisenman: Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, the first book of architectural theory by an American architect, opened the way for a generation of young architects – Charles Moore, Michael Graves, Richard Meier, Frank Gehry, and more – to challenge the platitudes of corporate practice in the 1960s and ’70s. In combining the best of European architectural history—Vignola, Soane, Moretti, etc.—with contemporary iconography, Venturi developed an idea of complexity that became the critical tool for stanching the tide of laissez-faire modernism and changing the face of American architecture. I for one will miss him and his dry sense of humor. Mark Foster Gage: I remember about 20 years ago when I was considering going to graduate school for architecture I met, of all people, Robert Venturi. We ended up having drinks and both got not-quite-but-close drunk. He said, "Don't ever become an architect... unless there's absolutely nothing else you can possibly do..." I was mortified! I thought oh my god, what am I doing if THIS guy who’s at the top of the pile is telling me it’s hard (I also remember thinking that is really was all I could possibly do—the alternative being falling back on my mostly medieval art history degree...). Only in retrospect did I realize that what he was conveying was truly sage advice. Architecture is neither an easy path nor a mere job--but more of an infatuation that involves a significant amount of struggle. He knew this, and it was evidenced in his own work, for instance when he, the ur-figure of postmodernism, was on the cover of Architect Magazine quoted as saying "I am not nor have ever been a postmodernist." You can see the struggle in his work between high modernist training and the whimsy of pop culture. To this day I think the strength of his work is the struggle to reconcile these two directions—rather than merely opening the floodgates of postmodernism through his writing and early work. There was discomfort in his work—hard effort. I don’t think the postmodernism of Venturi was easy and frivolous, I think it was complicated, rich, detailed and intelligent—qualities we should all be so lucky to imbue in our work as we struggle through our own careers for this difficult but beautiful infatuation of ours.
 
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Divine right of kings #RobertVenturi

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Dan Graham: Bob Venturi was one of the one or two best American architects and was a great writer on architecture, architectural history, and theory. His love of pop art infuriated my friend Richard Serra and that is why I wrote a defense of him in Artforum. He criticized Mies, but in the end, came to appreciate him and understand his importance. His background was as an Italian-American and Quaker, and he loved American and English vernacular architecture, billboards and shopping malls. Denise Scott Brown said he loved to watch English soap operas on PBS and he had a great sense of humor. I was lucky to meet him. Paul Goldberger: I am accustomed to thinking of Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas as books from a long time ago, and indeed they are. But I don’t know if there could be any better way than to honor Robert Venturi than to open both of them again, and to be reminded that these are, in fact, timeless books: anchored in the 1960s and 1970s, yes, but transcending those years to speak to us now and for a long time to come. Complexity teaches you how to see architecture, and to understand how it is always about both/and, not either/or. Las Vegas, which he wrote with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown as well as Steven Izenour, shows us how architecture is the making of sign and symbol as much as the making of space, and points the way toward the conflation of electronic media and architecture. Both books were prescient, and far more important than the air of nostalgia that surrounds them is the pleasant reminder of their continued meaning. Bob Venturi, writer of the “gentle manifesto,” was himself gentle, kind, soft-spoken, and absolutely driven. He was as ambitious as anyone in the architecture business, but his ambition was softened by a connoisseur’s love of form, a critic’s incisive perception, and a tourist’s enthusiasms about the world. His architecture was a series of exuberant, inventive, and incisive mannerist explorations, modern even as it appeared to turn modernism on its head. We first met when I was still an undergraduate, and thanks to an introduction from Vincent Scully, I had the chance to talk with him and Denise about their work, a conversation that led to a piece about them in The New York Times Magazine that marked the beginning of my life as an architecture critic, or at least a paid one. What I remember best about that interview, beyond how gracious both Bob and Denise were to a young writer with almost no credentials, was the fact that it took place in a sprawling mansion outside of Philadelphia that was owned by an old friend of theirs for whom Bob had designed a house that was never built. The reason the house, which would have been the most important of Bob’s career up to that point—this was 1971—never went ahead was telling: before construction started, the old house came up for sale, and Bob told his friend he didn’t see how any new house could be as appealing as that old one, and recommended he buy it instead of building the Venturi house. What other architect would willingly say such a thing to a client? Bob was incapable of dissembling. Most people who are as congenitally honest as he was see the world in simplistic, black-and-white terms; Bob always saw it as nuanced, richly complex, ironic, defined by “richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning.” It is that combination—utter directness tempered by an absence of dogma and ideology, a penchant for truthfulness together with a mind for nuance and subtlety—that marked Bob, and shaped both the extraordinary words and the great architecture that are his legacy.  
 
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💙Another pic from our visit to Vanna Venturi’s house 💙 . . . #architecture #robertventuri

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Sean Griffiths: It goes without saying that he and Denise were huge influences on me personally and on FAT in general. They have also been incredibly supportive over the years. For us, they were simply the most important architects of the second half of the 20th century. They managed the incredible feats of producing highly influential buildings, creating a new architectural movement, and my god—those books—they changed everything,all the while remaining outsiders, never fully accepted by the establishment. For me Learning from Las Vegas is the most important book written on architecture and urbanism in the last 50 years. It completely changed the way we judge architecture, think about places and their meanings, represent space and analyze the relationship between people and environments. It was so much more than a book “about” Las Vegas. It was a totally new way to look at the built environment. Sam, Charles, and I will never forget our first visit to Philadelphia when Bob and Denise welcomed us into their home and took us on a tour of the Mother's house, the Louis Kahn house across the road (in which Bob delighted in pointing out which of the ideas in it were his—most of them according to him!), the Guild House, and their office. They then took us to dinner and we talked about our mutual love of the Sopranos opening titles and he and Denise professed a love for English sitcoms—“What’s the name of the one with the women priest?” he asked, referring to The Vicar of Dibley. We just thought it was hilarious that here we were with our architectural heroes and we were actually discussing The Vicar of Dibley of all things. Best of all, Bob and Denise attended the lecture we gave at UPenn and afterward saluted us with the immortal words, “Terrific…keep up the bad work!” I feel deeply honored to have known them both. Charles Holland: Robert Venturi was without a doubt my favorite architect. His work has been a huge and constant source of inspiration to me. Not just the buildings but the way he combined the, with research, teaching and writing of the highest order. He wrote not one but two enormously influential and undeniably important books, the second with his wife and partner Denise Scott Brown. Together they opened up architecture to so many things; to an appreciation of the everyday and to a way of learning from the things around us. Of all the buildings, my favourite is the Trubek House, one of a pair shingle-clad cottages realised on Nantucket Island in 1970. It has it all this house: the plays of scale, the complex spatiality, the tension between architecture and ordinary life, the two never fully resolved. Robert Venturi’s importance cannot be overstated and he leaves the world of architecture a much poorer place. RIP Bob. Sam Jacob: I don’t think I could express how important Bob Venturi (and Denise) were to FAT, and to me personally. I really came across their work in the bargain bookshops of the mid 90's, picking up that amazing book on the Mother House for nothing. Airbrushed out of the architectural history I'd been taught at school, their work seemed so amazingly fresh and relevant to an age of information and communication (remember the zeal and optimism of digital culture at that time!). So free of all that stale reactionary nonsense that had surrounded them (especially in the UK at the time of Prince Charles' National Gallery interventions) we could find our own resonances. Sampling, cutting and pasting, copying, distorting, playing with conventions, and understanding architecture as a form of information itself, I concocted a private dream that was part Venturi part Marshall McLuhan that helped forge a different path through millennial times and digital culture. Meeting them both in Philly at a small show at Penn we had was incredible, with Bob dropping aphorisms left, right, and center that still stay with me as he toured the show: “Not boring but in a good way,” “keep up the bad work.” I still don't know what he meant when he told me I wrote like Abraham Lincoln. He made us feel like co-conspirators, and we in turn felt like we could learn (and steal) so much from him that could restart the engine of a certain strand of architectural attitudes towards culture and design that had stalled. It's not overhyped or sentimental to stress his absolute centrality to the very idea of architecture in the late 20th and early 21st century. It's why after a long time ignored and shunned by the architectural mainstream, his and Denise’s work has become so important to a younger generation of architects. Ugly and ordinary forever!
 
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Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown — Wislocki House, Nantucket Island MA (1971). RIP.

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Charles Jencks: Robert Venturi changed architecture (hard), for the better (even harder) but with some unfortunate consequences (the one-liner-anti-symbolism), and many of his small early buildings and a few of his large later works are epics. Their drawing and argument inspired two generations. His writing was most usually in the service of a polemic, and his version of complexity predictive of the way the sciences of the twenty-first century would turn out. I was saddened I couldn’t get Bob to write on the second stage of Postmodernism, but as a good leader of the movement he was gentle, ironic, generous to others, amusing to many, academic, and will always be remembered by me. Micheal Meredith and Hilary Sample: Robert Venturi transformed architecture (practice and teaching) for those of us after him (America and abroad). He made it better. Together with Denise Scott Brown, he pioneered design partnerships (now there are so many), engaged multiple scales and media (from books to furniture to buildings to urbanism), and brought architecture into dialog with its contemporary culture (both as an intellectual pursuit and a practical/technical one). He seemed to take equal pleasure in both history and the mundane, offering a witty counterpoint to the heroic artist-architect and to the essentialism of his time with an articulate ambiguity, complexity, and inclusivity (something that is more and more important nowadays). Robert Ivy: Robert Venturi, appreciated for high intelligence, erudition, and a benevolent viewpoint, brought humanism to architecture. His work shone with wit and fit—creating a colorful dialogue between past and present, between high seriousness and contemporary irony. Signification, pattern, relationship, and memory. Together with his partners, this improbable radical tinted the world with joy. Sylvia Lavin: Although I have known Bob for what seems like forever, both at a distance as an august luminary in the field and a bit closer, as a person with whom to talk about Rome and main street, it is only in the past few years that I have gotten to see him work in intimate detail. Spending time in his archive, I have been systematically struck by the astonishing intelligence that permeates everything but that is often most intense when hidden in office memos, hand-drawn key codes to material specifications and sketches made on legal pads evidently drawn in a library. His sharp acumen and wit has always been abundantly clear to everyone through the discipline-changing work we all know, but the creative timbre of his intellection is different in these less mediated expressions. Kind acknowledgments of the contributions made by secretarial staff, surprisingly precocious interest in digital technologies, and outbursts of frustrations with the ordinary obstacles confronted by architects, are evidence that in his daily life, he operated in accordance with the principle—often publicly stated but also often misunderstood as mere professional rhetoric—that architects are not heroes but people with interesting jobs to do. And in these documents, there is also evidence of perhaps the smartest thing he ever did – which was to marry Denise, to whom I offer my deepest condolences. Elena Manferdini: Very few texts captured a cultural paradigm shift as Robert Venturi and Scott Brown’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture and Learning from Las Vegas. Their influence on generations of architects is as fresh as it was when those texts were first published. They destabilized the form-function determinism of modernist architects and opened our field to hybrid forms, super graphics, and pop-style culture. They liberated architecture from anachronistic dogmas with intellectual depth, innate sense of humor, unexpected juxtapositions and playful colors. They looked at architecture as a cultural inclusive expanded field. Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample: Robert Venturi transformed architecture (practice and teaching) for those of us after him (America and abroad). He made it better. Together with Denise Scott Brown, he pioneered design partnerships (now there are so many), engaged multiple scales and media (from books to furniture to buildings to urbanism), and brought architecture into dialog with its contemporary culture (both as an intellectual pursuit and a practical/technical one). He seemed to take equal pleasure in both history and the mundane, offering a witty counterpoint to the heroic artist-architect and to the essentialism of his time with an articulate ambiguity, complexity, and inclusivity (something that is more and more important nowadays).
 
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Found this dedication in a 1st edition of Complexity and Contradiction

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Ivan Saleff: Ciao Bob, Bob has left the building. His spirit will roam the universe for eternity always nigh his beloved Denise and Jim. The maestro’s boundless work remains behind with us. It will thankfully perplex pundits, colleagues and students for centuries to come. Bob and Denise’s work has always been inclusive speaking to all ages, cultures, endeavors, and genders. Bob chose to write in common language however his work also provides the challenge of peeling back its deeper layers. Bob’s daily life and work formed one unified whole full of the complexities and contradictions of which he wrote. There was no other Venturi lurking. He was the real deal, authentic, loving and committed in everything he did. Bob was courageous in his efforts to combat pretentious trends which traded substance for drama and one-liner. His arsenal included wit, artistry, ambiguity, irony and academic prowess. He was well armed and ready to engage. I remember him telling me of how he struggled at the time when placing the fractured horizontal white band at the fifth floor of Guild House. It took me a while to fully understand that. It made me think. That is what Bob does. He makes us think. Ashley Schafer and Amanda Reeser: Picking up copy edits on the day of Robert Venturi’s passing, we were struck by the pertinence of the image on the last page of our last issue. It is a photograph of Bob and Denise taken from the back seat, framed by a windshield, ahead of which are signs, strip malls, decorated sheds. It captures so perfectly how they asked us to look at the world differently. Their embrace of Americana, of the city, of what is worthy of our attention, opened the discipline to a more diverse set of interests and narratives long before it was politically correct to do so. The inclusivity Bob championed in Complexity and Contradiction expanded ways of operating in the field, which deeply influenced us at PRAXIS (not to mention generations of architects). His and Denise’s intellectual generosity is a reminder of how we should all strive to practice. Martino Stierli: We have lost a giant, but also an incredibly warm, witty, and generous human being. I remember once cooking a simple pasta with tomato sauce for Bob and Denise in their beautiful Philadelphia home, when I had just started working on my PhD thesis on their Learning from Las Vegas. When Bob saw the sauce, he commented: “How exotic!” He really did see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Venturi, through his pointed observations, is rhetorical brilliance and his puns, forever changed how we think and talk about architecture. One of his most famous drawings illustrated his concept of the decorated shed with the words “I AM A MONUMENT.” That he is. Michael Sorkin: One of the first articles I published after finishing school was a screed attacking Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. Not altogether originally, I charged Bob Venturi with promoting an escapist, purely visual, aesthetic at time of social crisis. How wrong I was! That book and his work were really all about the political and its imbrication not simply in artistic invention but in expansive choice and respect for the choices of others. Bob was eternally and ever gently subversive and changed – liberated - the way we think about architecture. He realized what we were so piously fighting for: the authenticity of difference and the freedom of the imagination.
 
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He even signed his name in a fun way 💔 RIP Bob Venturi

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Léa-Catherine Szacka: “Main Street is Almost all Right” Robert Venturi (1925-2018), probably the best representative of American Postmodernism, was one of the twenty participants of the spectacular Strada Novissima at the 1980 Venice Architecture Biennale. In fact, together with Denise Scott Brown and John Rauch, he probably stayed at the most important address on that street, behind a façade that took the form of a colorful pop cartoonish temple with, in the back, and visible from the street, a large reproduction of the 1964 Vanna Venturi house painted by Cinecittà technicians. Venturi’s presence in the exhibition was seen as not only desirable but as absolutely essential to the success of the show. So much so that chief curator Paolo Portoghesi made sure to include architectural historian Vincent Scully amongst the advisory board of the exhibition, as he knew, only Scully would be able to convince the father of postmodernism to come and play with the other kids on the block. Stanley Tigerman and Margaret McCurry: Bob Venturi led the way backward to a “gentler, simpler time.” His was a postmodernists’ wail that in the late 1960’s spoke a more complex language than that enunciated by canonical modernism. Always the gentleman, he seemed uncomfortable with the mantel of notoriety which nonetheless he wore with great dignity. Never the “starchitect” Bob was too retiring to be bothered by the machinations of fame. He never aimed to be the leader of the “loyal opposition” party either and while his words spoke volumes about complex values, his architectural production sometimes fell a bit short of the mark but not by much. Curiously, like Mies van der Rohe before him he lived to see the discipline of architecture diminished by the false gods of “Marketing and Branding,” but the ethos that has ennobled architecture throughout the ages has already touched the youngest generation who would aspire to that which has been missing in our epoch- “value.” James Wines: “Bob and Denise” In my mind, Bob and Denise are a single entity... a consolidation of infinite intellect and creativity that changed the very foundations of how we think about the built environment. Their unified presence has been totally embedded in both my conscious and subconscious views of architecture since the 1970s; so, it is impossible to believe that one half of this divine team is missing. Denise will surely go on to ever more amazing triumphs of art and theory, but the unity and expansiveness of their ideas will always endure in the design world as a supreme example of love and vision in one package. Mark Wigley: Robert Venturi was hugely influential and hugely misunderstood. He most famously called for complexity and contradiction in architecture but he was actually a new kind of minimalist, always looking to maximize the effect of the least--as revealed by the very compactness of the self-undermining mantra “Less is a Bore.” He was a truly laconic architect, efficiently belittling what others celebrate and celebrating what others belittle. More than anything, he savored the uncontainable ripples produced by slow-motion collisions between seemingly incompatible little things. Together with Denise Scott-Brown, he kept asking architects to think again, and smile a bit, even if the offer was rarely taken up.
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Opening

Peter Marino to open foundation, art museum
Architect Peter Marino is opening his contemporary art collection to the public and has revealed plans for an eponymous art foundation and accompanying museum in Southampton, New York. The architect, who was recently stripped of awards by the AIA because of harassment charges, is no stranger to designing gallery spaces, but Marino is also well known as a collector, having amassed several thousand pieces of art from across the late 20th and 21st centuries. Marino announced the creation of the Peter Marino Art Foundation during the opening ceremony of Counterpoint: Selections from The Peter Marino Collection at the Southampton Arts Center. The show, which runs from July 28 through September 23, pulls from Marino’s personal collection and includes work from artists that range from Robert Mapplethorpe to Damien Hirst. The show also includes sculptures and photographs from Marino’s completed architectural projects and gardens. The Peter Marino Art Foundation will be housed in the building next to the Southampton Arts Center, in what was originally the Rogers Memorial Library. The two-story, 8,000-square-foot red brick building at 11 Jobs Lane was designed by R.H. Robertson and completed in 1896. The building has been used to house pop-up retail and an interior design firm after the Parrish Art Museum, which had been using the library as an annex, departed for the neighboring town of Water Mill in 2012. Marino has purchased the building and plans to begin renovating the former library in September 2019, with an estimated opening date sometime in 2020. The foundation will focus on exhibiting work from local visual artists in addition to showcasing Marino’s own collection and will host rotating shows from guest artists as well as workshops and educational programming. When asked for comment, Marino mentioned the tight-knit nature of communities in the Hamptons. “When the Parish museum left for Watermill it unfortunately left a hole in Southampton, in terms of dedication to the visual arts within the village,” said Marino. “We intend to restore 11 Jobs Lane to its original purpose. Counterpoint: Selections from The Peter Marino Collection is a taste of the art that will be at the Peter Marino Art Foundation. Hopefully it will be a premier spot for art, for anywhere in the world. “My wife and I have been here since the early 90s and we came here because we love the village of Southampton. We love the village, we love the trees, we love Lake Agawam, the inlet, the ducks and the swans. I’ve been working on architectural projects in the Hamptons for over 30 years. For my own home, I’ve been working on its gardens (in Southampton) for over 20 years.” No cost estimates for either the purchase of the building or construction have been given. Marino has stated that he hopes the foundation will be able to work in tandem with the adjacent Southampton Arts Center to further both institutions.
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Pittsburgh's Postmodern Posterboy

Exclusive: Venturi Scott Brown-designed house suffers secret demolition
Only a month-and-a-half after a colorful Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown-designed house in Shadyside, Pittsburgh was put up for sale, AN has learned that the new owner plans on tearing it down. The Abrams House, commissioned by Irving and Betty Abrams and completed in 1979, is a striking example of Venturi’s playful postmodernist style. One-half of the roof curves and swoops like a cresting wave over the more traditionally-shaped rectangular portion, with a 20-foot-high vaulted ceiling below. The house’s front facade is capped with a window arrangement that resembles both a ship’s wheel as well as the rising sun and is accentuated with green-and-white “rays” emanating from the window assembly. A ribbon window wraps around the house and illuminates the interior, allowing the primary colors used everywhere from the soffits to the furniture to stand out. A mural by Roy Lichtenstein in the living room accentuates the house’s pop art aesthetic. Other than the colorful flourishes, the Abrams House is particularly notable for its location; the house is surrounded by midcentury work from well-known architects, including the Frank House by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer and the Giovannitti House by Richard Meier. The two-bed, two-and-a-half bath was put up for sale in mid-June of this year for $1.1 million, and the new buyer, Bill Snyder, closed on the building on July 20. Preservationists had briefly hoped that Snyder, who also owns the Giovannitti House, would restore the building, but a demolition permit was filed on July 23. Pittsburgh requires a 15-day wait period between the filing of a demolition permit and the start of work, but an anonymous source has informed AN that the interior of the house has already been gutted. The large Lichtenstein piece has been covered and removed, either causing or revealing significant degradation in the wall behind, and fixtures throughout the house have been cleared out. Snyder had purchased the Giovannitti House from its original owners, Frank and Colleen Giovannitti, in 2017 and is currently restoring the exterior of the home to its original condition. With the demolition of the Abrams House, the entire lot may become a landscaped addition to complement Meier’s building. Brittany Reilly, a board member at the nonprofit Preservation Pittsburgh, has been trying to raise awareness of the house. According to Reilly, the home is a unique piece of architecture for Pittsburgh in a neighborhood full of architecturally-significant houses. The problem? The Abrams House isn’t visible from the street, and Reilly believes that seclusion has led the public to overlook it. The next step for preservationists is to “respectfully” drum up community attention to the demolition. Preservation Pittsburgh has reached out to VSBA Architects & Planners, who were unaware of the demolition, as well as other Pittsburgh-based preservation groups, and is currently trying to establish a dialogue with Snyder. Update: After this story was originally published, the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (PHLF) has been working to mount an individual landmark nomination with the Historic Review Commission, planning commission and Pittsburgh City Council before the 15 day period elapses. Denise Scott Brown expressed her displeasure with the demolition reached for comment by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Why does he need to do that? Why doesn’t he save it,” said Brown. “This is not very honorable.” AN will follow this story up as more details become available.
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The Future (of Design) is Female

Making Madame Architect: How Julia Gamolina is documenting the dames of design
At 27 years old, New York City-based editor Julia Gamolina has created a space for women to tell their stories about working in architecture in real time with her new online platform, Madame Architect. The site, which launched in May, is home to Q&A-style features focused on the lives of the leading ladies of design. Gamolina began interviewing women and publishing these conversations on Sub_teXXt, the journal aligned with Nina Freedman and Lori Brown’s non-profit for gender equity, ArchiteXX. For several years, she's written these articles intermittently for the site, but the series truly started taking off in January when she began a 16-story series as a guest editor. By the time the idea for her own site came around this spring, she had a firm following and a growing list of ladies to meet.  So far Gamolina has put out 30 interviews with female movers and shakers in architecture. She’s profiled veteran architects like Snøhetta's Elaine Molinar and Richard Meier & Partners's Vivian Lee—her first interviewee whom Gamolina serendipitously met at an ArchiteXX event—as well as rising stars such as Jenny Sabin, Danei Cesario, and Jessica Myers. Her goal is to unveil the value each of these women possesses in their current career stages. She's found that the newcomers to the working world express uncertainty on finding work they'll love, while those in their mid-career are starting to see the impact of their gender as they assume more leadership roles and become mothers. "While everyone is different and has unique experiences, these themes tend to pop up over and over again," she said. "Those further along in their careers are so inspiring because they talk about integrating all the things they do. Their lives are really full and now they're saying, 'I've built everything...how in the world do I keep it all running?'" Not all of these women are strictly architects, either—some work in strategy, public relations, and management. She says feedback on the first wave of published pieces has been astonishing. “One thing that’s surprised me—and this should not be surprising,” she said, “is that many men have not only made recommendations to me on women I should interview, but many have contacted me telling me they love the site and are learning a lot.” Gamolina wants Madame Architect to be for women primarily, but helpful to men as well, from students to seasoned architects. She aims to show, from a fresh and positive perspective, that these women are relatable.

Today’s radiant #MadameArchitect: Elease Samms, @lc4508. Link in bio!Elease Samms is a Louisiana native but grew up in Central Florida. She was one of the first graduates from Orlando's @supportourscholars program, from which she headed to @cornellaap‘s Architecture Program on a full scholarship. Elease is now a Project Designer at @ktharchitectsinc. Her primary interests in the field of Healthcare Architecture stem from growing up as a daughter of an Orlando Health, Pediatric Level 2 Registered Nurse, and from a desire to work primarily with local communities. In her conversation with Julia Gamolina, Elease speaks about filling gaps, giving back, and increasing representation, encouraging anyone interested in architecture to know that the field is always open to them. #madamearchitect #architexx #womeninarchitecture #shedesigns #wia #shebuilds #architect #architecture #femalearchitect #interview #career #inspiration #series #florida #supportourscholars

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Madame Architect was born out of Gamolina’s desire to find female mentors within the male-dominated profession. After graduating from Cornell University with an undergraduate degree in architecture, she dove into design with stints at Studio V and A+I, but soon found herself attracted to the art of crafting narratives around projects. “As a designer, I felt I wasn’t using all parts of my brain,” she said. “I wanted to research, develop a concept, create imagery, talk, and write about these projects—all things I love and that coexist within the profession—but I was only doing the drafting part. I found myself wanting to get out and talk to people more than refine the same drawings for months on end.” When Gamolina started at her first job she was one of the few women in her office, so she set out to find other women who could help her navigate her new career. At Studio V she also helped select students for the firm’s internship program, interviewing the potential candidates and mentoring those that were chosen. This lit a spark in her, pushing her to explore her interest in the more human-centric, one-on-one aspect of firm life.  When she finally moved away from designing and started working alongside A+I’s newly appointed director of communications, Aurelia Rauch, she found her footing and the woman-to-woman guidance she was personally looking for.   “Once I realized my job could actually be to write and conceptualize the story of a project, I thought to myself, ‘What have I been doing this whole time?’” she said.   Currently in a new role as a business development coordinator with FX Collaborative, Gamolina seeks out projects and partnerships that match the firm’s mission. Her favorite part of the job is meeting with and learning from all the different stakeholders involved in a project. This curiosity for people is what drives her with Madame Architect. Nicole Dosso, director of SOM’s technical department, interviewed Gamolina herself for the site. Dosso imagines Madame Architect as having a huge impact on the next generation of not only females in the field, but helping push forward the women’s movement and beyond. “I see these interviews getting a lot of traction already,” Dosso said. “There is power in repetition, with Julia putting them out month after month. She could potentially make a career out of this or put the stories in a book. In time, she could reach out to people in different countries. I could see this extending outside the field of architecture too. The greater volume and quantity, the more it could do.” Gamolina is currently looking for contributing writers for the site. She’s just brought on two new writers, but with a backlog of 50 women to highlight on her list, she’s hoping to publish new pieces more frequently in order to get them up by the end of the year.
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Glass Ceilings

New NCARB report reveals diversity issues on the path to licensure
The architecture industry has faced difficulties recently with the issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion with the rise of the #MeToo movement and harassment allegations, including those against Richard Meier. It seems only timely that the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) released their latest report on diversity in architecture, revealing that attrition along the path to licensure remains significantly higher for non-white individuals. The 2018 NCARB by the Numbers study reported that diversity among licensure candidates and new architects continues to improve over the years, even though the industry traditionally skews white and male. But the data also revealed that improvement in diversity happens mainly in the early career stages. Of non-white candidates who started their NCARB Record in 2008, only 33 percent had completed the requirements for licensure by 2017—15 percent less than their white counterparts. In general, non-white candidates are also 25 percent more likely to not get their license than their white peers, according to the report. The report also noted that while women still remain underrepresented in the industry, gender equity is gradually on the rise. The percentage of all Certificate holders who are women rose to 20 percent, a positive trend that is on its third successive year. Although the report data suggests a shift towards gender and racial equality, progress is slow, and for many in the industry, there still needs a lot more to be done. In light of the #MeToo movement, which has given women a platform to speak up against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, equity has become an increasingly vital subject of discussion. As the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 kicks off, industry professionals are taking the opportunity to raise awareness about these issues. Planned events include a flash mob, workshops on #MeToo, and a resolution requiring ethical and equitable workplaces. The full 2018 NCARB by the Numbers will be released in July.
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Ai Ai AIA

Equity and inclusion surge to the forefront of the AIA conference
With only a couple of days left until the AIA Conference on Architecture 2018 (A’18) brings thousands of architects to New York City, many industry professionals are taking the opportunity to raise awareness about inequality, discrimination, and harassment in the field. A flash mob, workshops on #MeToo, and a resolution requiring ethical and equitable workplaces are all in the cards for this year’s conference. The rise of the #MeToo movement and the harassment and assault allegations against Richard Meier exposed fault lines in the architectural community that some say were always buried just below the surface. Women in architecture have been speaking up as a result, and architects are using this year’s convention as a national platform to make their voices heard. Frances Halsband, FAIA, co-founder of Kliment Halsband Architects, started a petition asking the AIA to amend their code of ethics to require that member workplaces must be free of discrimination, harassment, and abuse. Halsband’s petition and accompanying Fellowship is Leadership resolution, originally sent to 60 AIA Fellows, has signatures from nearly 500 fellows at the time of writing, over ten times the amount required to bring an item to a vote. "When I looked around, other architectural organizations were dealing with what had happened much more swiftly, and it seemed to me that the AIA was not doing enough," Halsband told AN. "I felt it was up to the Fellows to take a stand. If we’re supposed to be setting the standard, then we should set the standard." She added, "It’s one thing to belong to an organization that speaks for you; that’s a passive role. It seemed to me this is so important that individual people wanted to say, 'I believe this; I’m doing this.'" The petition was quickly codified into a resolution that Halsband brought to the floor of the AIA Conference on June 20 during the Business Meeting. Each of the delegates representing all AIA members will be given the chance to vote on whether to adopt the amendment. The measure passed overwhelmingly, with 4272 voting in favor of amending the code of ethics, 13 opposed, and 136 delegates abstaining. Carl Elefante, FAIA and AIA President, says that for their part, the organization is working to initiate a full suite of equity, diversity, and inclusion plans. The #MeToo movement and allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other high-profile men have brought a sense of urgency to the proceedings, said Elefante, but the AIA is a massive organization. Changes need to work their way through the appropriate committees and efforts to combat harassment and create a more equitable professional workplace have already been included in the 2016 – 2020 strategic plan. Ultimately, there are three levels in the AIA’s structure that need to be addressed: the national, at the 217 local AIA chapters, and on a member level. At the local level, Elefante discussed the coming harassment policy and training that chapters must adopt by 2019. Unfortunately, he noted, the AIA is an organization. Architects are either AIA members or they aren’t, and it often falls to firms to police their own culture. For their part, the AIA is working with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and with firms to raise awareness of the issues. On Friday, June 22, a flash mob intending to raise awareness of the discrimination and harassment that women in architecture experience, similar to the one staged at this year’s Venice Biennale, will gather at 12:30 pm at the AIA "member lounge" in the Crystal Pavilion on 34th Street and 11th Ave at the Javits Center. Beverly Willis, FAIA, of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, a nonprofit that advances the recognition and contributions of women in architecture, and Caroline James, who started the petition to retroactively award Denise Scott Brown the 1991 Pritzker, will be leading the charge. The AIA is hosting its own handful of workshops on equitable practices in the workplace as well. On Friday, June 22, visitors can attend the “Harassment in the Workplace, Part 1—Compliance and Culture: Building a Respectful & Harassment-Free Workplace Culture” workshop from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM. After learning how to recognize and avoid harassment in the workplace, conference guests can follow up with “Harassment in the Workplace, Part 2—Community and Resources: Hearing Voices & Exploring Conversation Strategies,” a panel on Saturday from 8 AM to 9 AM. Syracuse University’s Fisher Center at 19 East 31st Street will be holding a hackathon for equality on Wednesday from 1 PM to 5PM, where established architects and emerging voices can come together and present radical ideas for making architecture practices more diverse, equitable, and open spaces. Back at the Javits, interested visitors can stop by “The Missing 32 Percent (Women) & Missing Small Architects” on Thursday from 10:30 AM to 11:30 AM and learn about the roadblocks that women in architecture face on their paths towards representation and recognition. The Architecture Lobby will be using the conference as a springboard for its own set of talks and workshops on Friday and Saturday. Saturday’s “Infrastructure: The Architecture Lobby National Think-In” will gather a diverse set of participants and build a dialogue about how to fix both the hard and “soft” (intangible) problems plaguing architecture. At the Think-In, the “Labor” session from 2 PM to 3:15 PM will address the problems of low wages, long hours, and the lack of job security facing architects; the “#MeToo” session from 3:30 PM to 4:45 PM will tackle the backlash that accusers often face when coming forward; and the “Alternative Forms of Professional Organization” session from 5 PM to 6:15 PM will examine how architecture practices and architects as individuals can best order themselves and create mutually beneficial professional structures. All of these sessions will be held at Prime Produce, a nonprofit gathering space at 424 W 54th Street.
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Radial Home

You can buy a rare Robert Venturi-designed house in Pennsylvania for $1.1 million
Heads up for those house-hunting in Pennsylvania: A house in Shadyside is up for grabs. But it’s not just any house; it’s a house designed by famed architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown. Built in 1983, the Abrams house is a two-bed, two-and-a-half bath house on sale for $1.1 million. It’s located near Chatham University’s campus and is featured by Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation for being one of the select few in the world. Venturi, who won the Pritzker Prize in 1991, and his associated firm Venturi Scott Brown and Associates, is known for breaking away from the stark modernist style of the 1960s. His buildings often feature a playful element, such as the Vanna Venturi house with its broken gable roof. While the Abrams house doesn't have the same name recognition as the "Mother's House," the design is still classically Venturi. As in his other Postmodern buildings, this house juxtaposes classical forms—both inside and out. The roof has a sweeping, curved side that allows for an unorthodox, 20-foot-high vaulted ceiling wall of windows patterned like a ship’s wheel. The interior features bold primary colors, and graphic art that complements Venturi’s style. Other highlights include ribbon windows that bring in plenty of natural light, a lap pool, and an idyllic setting that places the house beside a century-old stone bridge. The house is located at 118 Woodland Road and is in the Squirrel Hill North neighborhood of Shadyside. Woodload Road was developed as an elite residential neighborhood in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, according to Pittsburgh Art Places. Houses were designed by other prominent architects, including the Frank House by Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer and the Giovannitti house by Richard Meier.
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Make Your Voice Heard

How can architecture criticism give everyone a seat at the table?
As Christopher Hawthorne moves on from the Los Angeles Times and as new forms of criticism proliferate, we asked the architecture community what the role of the critic is today, and what it might be missing. What do you see as the role of the critic in architecture today? Why is it important? What aspects of architecture are not being addressed today by critics? What are the problems with criticism today? Here are the responses we received from those who felt that architecture criticism is inherently political and should be approached as such, from across the country and abroad. How can women and people of color be included in the conversation when the field has typically buried their voices? This article was originally published in our May print issue, and was preceded by a selection of answers from architecture critics themselves and those who thought that the internet has fundamentally changed the field. Nolan Boomer Arts critic and editor of Take Shape. “At the core of architectural criticism is the realization that setting is not the backdrop of humankind’s story, but actually a character that shapes its plot...some of the best criticism appears in other genres like fiction and poetry, but it often isn’t considered as such.” Alice Twemlow Head of Design Curating and Writing Masters at Design Academy Eindhoven and professor of design at The Royal Academy of Art, The Hague. “If you take architecture to be less about individual buildings, and more about the structural, political, and conceptual framing of the shifting relationship between public and private space, (which I do) then the role of the architecture critic merges with that of the social critic and, in that respect, is immensely important. When that framing is thoughtful and brilliant, she should make sure we hear about it; and when the framing is uninformed or unfair, she should also make sure we hear about it. She should remind us of the past, respond to the current situation, and anticipate or lead future moves. She should advocate for the right of every public citizen to access the aesthetic and practical benefits of the built environment whilst being protected from it failings and harmful effects. And if that sounds like hard work, and that it encroaches on the territory of urban planning, social politics, environmental science, ethics, and philosophy, that’s because it is, and it does.” Mitch McEwen Assistant professor at Princeton University School of Architecture and partner of A(n) Office. “Architecture has made so many heroic and visionary claims, and also failed so many people for so long. The architecture critic can sort through these claims and failures and new potentials, both for us and for a wider public.” Mark Foster Gage Principal of Mark Foster Gage Architects and the assistant dean of the Yale School of Architecture. “I think there is an old notion of a critic who tells you if something is good or not. This is outdated and it probably comes from [Gene] Siskel and [Roger] Ebert on television, watching movies—‘thumbs up’ and ‘thumbs down.’ Here the critic is an arbiter of taste. It’s not helpful: it’s about judgment rather than a new opening of discussion. It’s a closure, stopping conversation cold. Once you call a movie bad, why discuss it? I believe a critic is a person that opens people’s eyes as to WHY certain things are notable in various disciplines (or outside of them). A critic should be opening conversations, prompting curiosity, and inciting interest. I also think it is the responsibility of the critic to focus on contemporary work and issues—‘the new’ is always in most need of support and discussion, especially among those who feel intimidated or uncomfortable about it. This is what the critic is supposed to do, make it possible to bring more people into the conversation about any type of work. They are stewards of curiosity and interest, not judges of success or failure.” Enrique Ramirez Writer and architectural historian based in Brooklyn. “This question presumes that criticism is important to the discipline and practice of architecture. To say so is to admit to a certain kind of hubris. Criticism is not needed, for no matter if critics decide to take on the mantle of an investigative magistrate and try to shed light on a particular issue, to watch different actors scurry about once their particular malfeasances become exposed, to say: ‘Aha, Architecture...YOU’VE BEEN CAUGHT’...this is criticizing, but is it criticism? I used to think, ‘Yes, it is.’ It’s not. An architectural critic may tell you, ‘Look at this building ...Modernism is EVIL!’ or ‘Postmodernism is TRITE!’ or ‘Everything coming out of UCLA or Michigan is MAGENTA and CORNFLOWER BLUE!’ Okay, but so what? If that is the mode of engagement that architectural critics prefer, then I want no part of it. As critics, we need to look at colleagues in other fields to see how they advocate for the cultural relevance of their object of inquiry, for this is at the heart of criticism. Architectural criticism seems stuck in a kind [of] mode that conflates ‘criticism’ with ‘criticizing,’ one that privileges the dressing down of a building over everything else. Architecture lives in the world at large, and as critics, we need to state how this is the case.” José Esparza Chong Cuy Associate curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. “I believe that an informed public opinion of what needs to be celebrated and denounced is more important than ever. Contemporary life is shaped by so many invisible mechanisms that need to be exposed to the day-to-day eye. There are so many things at play regulated by sociopolitical, economic, and environmental factors in the spaces we inhabit that we need to have thought out critical positions to be able to act accordingly, both socially and professionally. Having a better understanding of these invisible mechanisms could potentially open new ways of operating. Moreover, I believe that all critical mediums should make an attempt to cover rural environments. It is clear that city-living is not the only option, but critics should make an effort to cover stories about rural life and the rural landscapes to connect the practice or architecture to these settings as well. We tend to forget how interconnected the rural and urban contexts are, and the critic should use its platform to inform how one setting feeds off the other and vice versa.” Bika Rebek Founding principal of Some Place, and an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia GSAPP. “A master of expansive writing reaching all fringes, and perhaps my favorite critic is Karl Kraus. While architecture is just one of his wide-ranging interests, his writing is personal, angry, funny, extremely timely and unconcerned with the consequences. Contemporary architectural criticism would benefit from this fearlessness and sense of humor. With more pointed controversy, critics could attract wider audiences and become part of an age-old dialogue, spinning the web further through the lens of our time.” Jesse LeCavalier  Designer, writer, and educator whose work explores the architectural and urban implications of contemporary logistics. He is the author of The Rule of Logistics: Walmart and the Architecture of Fulfillment, assistant professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and the Daniel Rose Visiting Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Architecture. “Foucault’s appeal to a kind of criticism focused on curiosity, attention, stewardship, and imagination remains, for me, an appealing statement about the potential role of the critic: ‘I can’t help but dream about a kind of criticism that would try not to judge but to bring an oeuvre, a book, a sentence, an idea to life; it would light fires, watch the grass grow, listen to the wind, and catch the sea foam in the breeze and scatter it. It would multiply not judgments but signs of existence; it would summon them, drag them from their sleep. Perhaps it would invent them sometimes—all the better. All the better. Criticism that hands down sentences sends me to sleep; I’d like a criticism of scintillating leaps of the imagination.’ While thoughtful and perceptive engagement with buildings will always be important, I feel like now more than ever we need to develop an expanded understanding the larger forces shaping the built environment, from our own consumer choices to larger policy transformations, their implications, and ways to engage them.” Kate Wagner Creator of McMansion Hell and a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University researching concert hall design in transition from late- to post-modernism. “Architecture is inherently political on its own! While the city is relevant to the building, we should avoid using the city as a crutch.” Fred Scharmen Teaches architecture and urban design at Morgan State University’s School of Architecture and Planning. His first book, Space Settlements, will be out later this year. “I saw a joke on Twitter the other week that said: ‘Every academic discipline has another academic discipline which watches them, occasionally making sarcastic comments.’ For architecture, criticism gets even weirder, because this shadow discipline is supposed to do at least two more other things: it’s meant to be internalized, so architects should be working and self-critiquing at almost the same time; and it’s also supposed to be outward-facing, to explain what’s going on inside the discipline to an external audience. So somehow we’re all meant to be our own worst and best critics, hecklers, and narrators, all at once. This situation is messed up.” Peggy Deamer Professor of architecture at Yale University, an architect practicing in New York, and content coordinator of the Architecture Lobby. “The role of the critic is to inform both the public and the discipline about what aesthetic, economic, cultural, or social value is potentially embedded in that discipline and point out examples that are good or bad in relation to that potential. Critics aren’t identifying the connection between how we in the discipline work—with illegal, economically naive, sexist, and formally myopic protocols—and the poverty of what we are asked to work on (rich peoples second houses; the occasional private institution) and the consequent lack of respect and financial stability.” David Grahame Shane Adjunct professor in the Urban Design program at Columbia GSAPP. “Architectural criticism is not important as there is so little architecture of quality produced today by large firms or clients to consider. Look at Hudson Yards or the World Trade Center, and weep. The profession is BIM-ed and value-engineered to death. Public commissions and competitions that once gave openings to critics and young firms have disappeared along with small bookstores and magazines. Chat rooms and the academy remain as hermetic critical fortresses with their own private codes and handshakes. Sadly public intellectuals and critics are a disappearing breed, dying off in the new architectural ecology, occasionally spotlighted by museums as avant-garde and remote insights. It’s not a pretty picture, but surely in the future people will regain a sense of shared communities in the city and countryside and a new breed of architectural critics and architectural practice will re-emerge.” Michael Sorkin Architect, author, educator and founding principal of Michael Sorkin Studio. “The critic’s duty is resistance!  As the country careens toward full-on fascism, its environment assailed and warfare looming, we must defend the social architectures of civility and not lose ourselves in the artistic weeds.  A critic who fails to assail Trump, supports him.” Kelsey Keith Editor-in-Chief of Curbed. “Architecture as a study and as a practice has done a lot to isolate itself. I think that the built environment matters so much because it affects and influences people in the places they live. I speak not as an academic or as a critical theorist, but as someone who genuinely loves all this, wants it to be better, and believes that end is achieved in part via criticism. An architecture critic’s role in society today is to contextualize—whether the point is to educate, or entertain, or satisfy some curiosity: ‘Why are A-frames suddenly so popular again? Why is it important to preserve the work of a rare woman project lead from a midcentury architecture firm?’ Most critics are too busy broadcasting their own well-formed opinions to actually listen to the zeitgeist. Dialogue is important, but so is listening to others—as a knowledge-gathering tool or when their perspectives differ from your own.” Abdalilah Qutub (Abdul Qutub)   Co-founder of Socially Condensed Fully-Built Enviromemes. “The role of the architectural critic today goes beyond the immediate issues surrounding a building, but also includes the larger ethical practices and impacts in which the participants in the architectural field might be involved. There are two main themes that are not really being fully addressed today: Workers’ rights issues and the overwhelming whiteness of the field. The dominance of white men now only further keeps alive the whiteness of the field that has been passed on by previous generations. Recent efforts within the #MeToo movement and the allegations that have recently come out against Richard Meier further reveal some of the underlying power structures in the field and how they are being abused. Criticism alone is not going to solve these problems without the provocation of direct action from the architectural and associated fields (strikes, demonstrations, and protests).” Nicholas Korody Co-founder of the experimental architecture practice Adjustments Agency, co-curator of the architecture store domesti.city, and editor-in-chief of the architecture publication Ed. “The role of the critic today is first and foremost to draw attention to the architecture of architecture—that is, the ways in which ‘architecture’ is not a given, but rather something constructed and therefore mutable. Within the discipline and profession, we take for granted that certain things, from exploitative labor practices to rampant sexism and even assault, come with the territory. They do not have to. Alongside this, we accept with little criticality the complicity of architecture with capital, with the end result that not only do we now design only for the select few, we also help fuel the conversion of our cities into playgrounds for speculative finance. This relationship is historically specific, and the role of the critic is to both point this out and to imagine alternatives. Critics today tend toward the myopic. They see a form and not what’s behind it: labor relations, environmental degradation, capital accumulation, displacement of people. Every act of construction has cascading effects far beyond the building site. Critics must contend with this. Broadly speaking, it is a conservative field. Many supposedly liberal or even leftist critics are in fact advocating for a maintenance of the status quo, which is a violent position to take. There are far too few voices demanding truly radical change within the discipline. Criticism is itself a form of practice, a way of imagining possibilities where others see none. Integral to that is looking far beyond the discipline, far beyond buildings. Most importantly, critics must take positions—albeit ones capable of change—and fight for them. Political neutrality does not exist. A good critic loves architecture so much they despise everything about it.” Ana María León Trained as an architect, León is a researcher and architecture historian at the University of Michigan. “Critics link the discipline not only to a broader audience, but also to larger concerns that often escape architecture’s purview. If good histories take a critical view of the past, good critiques are able to historicize the present. Our current political moment urgently needs more critical voices. Critics are still overwhelmingly white, male, and Western. This is not to say that white, male, Western critics are unable to look beyond their own identities, but representation matters, and a diversity of voices tends to insure a diversity of opinions and points of view. I would love it if say, The Architect’s Newspaper reached out to critics in South America, Africa, Asia, and asked them to review events and buildings there for a broader public.” Eva Franch i Gilabert Architect, educator, curator, founder of Office of Architectural Affairs (OOAA), current executive director of the Storefront for Art and Architecture and future director of the Architectural Association. “A critic is the historian of the present, or the present future, or as Reyner Banham’s intellectual biography points out, of the immediate future. To understand the power of architecture, unveil it, and transmit it to a larger audience is the most benevolent image of the critic, but the most seminal and most needed is to allow the field to find positions beyond obsessions; to position design culture in relation to the most important issues affecting contemporary culture and the built environment. Any critic needs to go beyond the cliché, the commonplace assumptions behind good design, and understand radical, powerful designs that are able to produce more equitable societies. A critic that is able to read beyond press releases, instant gratifications, three minute impressions of what should be and help us all imagine what actions, ideas, and form could be. The problems with criticism today are the same as the ones with architecture: it is extremely hard to go beyond client-oriented work, to produce designs that question the status quo and the forces at play. The making and buying of history in the PR age is an issue to be investigated thoroughly. It is extremely hard for editors, critics, and architects to keep a critical distance. While this might not be any different than in times past, at least I think there is now a more transparent understanding of sponsored articles, and the influence and power of certain lobbies. The real difficulty of being a critic is that we do not have editorial structures that support criticism in its full flesh. As in many other fields false criticism, sensationalism, scandalous headlines, ...are more in vogue than rigorous - maybe less sensationalist- forms of criticism. The problem is that bad criticism is more profitable in terms of business models; good criticism needs of idea models, less business models....”
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Top Down, Bottom Up

Architecture’s crisis is deeper than #MeToo
Architecture has been grappling with its own #MeToo moment since the reports of sexual harassment allegations against Richard Meier broke. The responses have varied, ranging from statements condemning sexual harassment and promoting workplace reform to the creation of a “shitty architecture men” list. The conversation also underscores existing challenges within architecture: the field is almost completely white, overwhelmingly male, and shrinking. But so far, most responses have addressed symptoms rather than structural issues. We need to talk about how architecture’s crisis is deeply rooted in its culture. If architecture is to be saved—from the Richard Meiers to the unpaid internships—we must expand how architecture is evaluated and rethink how it is taught. Expand the Terms of Architectural Value Our definition of good architecture is woefully myopic and outdated, beginning with the cult of personality. A list of important architecture is analogous to a list of individuals or acronyms synonymous with individuals. The dominant narrative (think the Pritzker Prize) recognizes design excellence as an individual rather than office-wide achievement. And though important scholarship is deepening our understanding of the canon by recognizing the contribution of overlooked women like Anne Tyng or Charlotte Perriand, the office-wide effort, fundamental to architecture, remains unseen. The production of the design—from the labor practices to the contributions of team members—should be considered when evaluating architecture. We should be asking: How is the office structured? Is the office environment oppressive? Is there pay equity? These questions are as fundamental to architectural quality as a building’s relationship to its surroundings or the detailing of a corner. This will help to debunk the sole creator myth, recognize the profession’s collective nature, and establish the importance of the practice of architecture. In this light, Meier’s projects would be rightly seen as bad architecture. Well-rounded criticism will expand the realm of architectural value beyond its narrow-minded focus on the building to examine and celebrate architectural practice. As architects, our offices are the only environments we can completely design, implement, and control. So it is maddening that they are so often toxic and inhumane. In response to the allegations against Meier, the Pritzker Foundation reaffirmed his 1984 award, stating: “We do not comment on the personal lives of our laureates.” This is ridiculous. Meier did not harass in his personal life; he harassed in his professional life. It is scandalous to valorize architecture made in such an environment. Change Architectural Education to Change Practice Design studio, which is based on a master/apprentice relationship, is a unique and valuable form of pedagogy. But its unequal power dynamic is too often exacerbated by the harmful and inappropriate behavior of some studio instructors, an ill-defined student/teacher boundary, and an acceptance of hostile and aggressive crits. Studio sets expectations for the kinds of workplaces and mentor relationships that young architects will seek or accept. Painfully, against this backdrop, the allegations against Meier are not shocking. They are just over the line of what many students and young architects have learned to put up with. Studio also establishes overwork as a cornerstone of architectural excellence, reproducing the belief that good design is never done. Saying yes to another parti, model, or rendering forces us to say no to meals, sleep, and social life. We also learn that, trapped in a service industry, we should expect to be underpaid (or unpaid) and under-appreciated. School-taught expectations shape our decisions to work at offices despite the overwork, underpay, and toxic environments (not to mention our student debt!). Many offices rely on and enforce this culture of overwork to offset the cost of uncompensated competitions, low fees, accelerated schedules, or scope changes. Poorly compensated labor props up many firms, allowing them to win critical acclaim while operating sham businesses and undercutting the industry as a whole. Pedagogy should project the ideals of practice, not reflect its worst tendencies. Universities should temper the always-yes culture and advocate for boundaries. They should establish guidelines for studio organization, schedules, workloads, deliverables, and time-management in concert with students. They should also clarify the codes of the student/teacher relationship and teach students that their time is valuable and that architecture can be done without lopsided power dynamics and overwork. If we learned in such a setting, why would we go to offices that pay little, expect us to work nonstop, and serve abusive, ego-driven individuals? Firms built on unpaid or underpaid labor would be rightly seen as pariahs regardless of their designs’ originality, not celebrated as they are now. The professional practice track should also be strengthened. A sequence of courses in this vein could teach real-world responsibilities and reinvest in architecture as a circumscribed discipline, fostering scholarship around the history and theory of architectural practice. Leading professionals from various types of offices could speak about the nuts and bolts of running their practices. Students could learn to creatively and effectively run an office, as well as to design. Imagine if we learned the profession and studied the typologies and history of offices in order to think critically and innovatively about practice. Only then could we say that school truly advances the future of architecture. Rebuild Architecture’s Credibility On top of our internal structural issues, architects’ expertise and authority is eroding and our necessity is being questioned. In our desire to limit liability, we have ceded responsibility to other parties: architects of record, consultants, engineers, contractors, and owner's representatives—shrinking our professionalism. Yet we trumpet architecture’s ability to address social and global challenges: the future of work, housing, urbanization, climate change. To credibly take on these issues, we need to tend to our discipline from the bottom up, starting with expanding architectural value and repairing education. Our problems are not intractable and there are a few downsides. But without change, architecture is undergoing a brain drain. The #MeToo reckoning adds urgency to the profession’s troubling trajectory. With its abysmal diversity and the discipline's shameful state, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to be an architect. And yet we do. Those of us who love architecture—its history, worldview, and optimism—must refuse to say yes to its unhealthy and degrading demands. Architecture has never been more important to the world’s realities. But to meaningfully contribute and fully realize the #MeToo moment, we must rebuild architecture from the ground up.   Miles Fujiki is a young architect working in New York City.
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In Memoriam

Remembering Robert F. Gatje, noted architect and author, who passed away at 90
Bob Gatje, an architect who served as a partner of two AIA Gold Medalists and whose work is to be found in half a dozen countries, died on April 1st, 2018 in New York City. He was 90. The cause was a stroke according to Susan R. Witter, his companion and partner of 35 years. Bob worked with Marcel Breuer and Richard Meier as well as his own partnership, Gatje Papachristou Smith, during a career of over 50 years, largely overseas. He is best known for his role in the design of two "monuments of French Modern architecture," IBM’s La Gaude Research Center, and the ski town of Flaine. In the U.S., he was responsible for the award-winning Broward County Main Library in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Bob was president of its New York chapter from 1975 to 1976. As a student, Bob broke academic records at Brooklyn Tech and Cornell University, where he received his B. Arch in 1951. He served in the U.S. Corps of Engineers and studied at Deep Springs College, an institution to which he returned as Trustee and received its medal in 2008. He was a Fulbright scholar at the Architectural Association (AA) in London from 1951 to 1952, president of Telluride Association, and Trustee of the New York Hall of Science and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. I first met Bob at Marcel Breuer’s office in 1960, which in those days, along with Ed Barnes and Philip Johnson's offices, was the place for a young, ambitious architect to work. The office was right above Schrafft’s at 57th Street and 3rd Avenue. Bob and his partners ran the office. Breuer or Lajos, pronounced ‘Laiko’, was not always easily understood, and was often away. Bob was the steady hand in the office, forever patient and in good spirits. I sat between Richard Meier and Paul Korelick, who went on to win the Dublin Library Competition, while in the office. Bob and Breuer made a great team. Bob had an excellent handle on design, with a strong passion for the visual product. His graphic work, as well as the several books he wrote on design, showed this. He was the author of Marcel Breuer: A Memoir, co-written with I.M. Pei, and "Great Public Squares: An Architect's Selection," a book that sets international standards for urban space. We remained good friends over the years, as he did with so many others who worked with him over the years. His friendships reached out to many, even outside the world of design. An evening at the Gatje/Witter household was always a broadening experience.
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Open Secrets

What's up with Richard Meier & Partners' tone-deaf response to latest allegations?
Four more women have come forward with sexual harassment allegations against Richard Meier, adding to the five who already came forward in a March 13 report by The New York Times. All four are former employees of the firm, one of whom told the paper that she reached a settlement with the company for $25,000 in 1992 after Meier threw himself on top of her. Beyond a recounting of their experiences with Meier in the office and at his Upper East Side home, the latest news focuses on the firm itself and a culture where, according to many employees, Meier's behavior towards women was an open secret that no one took any action to address. Responding to the earlier allegations, Richard Meier announced a six-month leave from the office and released an apology prefaced by the words, "While our recollections may differ," which some readers called a non-apology. The firm's latest statement to the Times similarly avoided directly engaging with the allegations, instead distancing them as decade-old, "personal" allegations that should not sully the reputation of the firm:
“The allegations involving Richard Meier, the most recent of which were nearly a decade old, do not reflect the ethos and culture of the firm, and it would be irresponsible to allow these personal allegations to tarnish the company.”
But it is the firm's senior management who really takes the cake in demonstrating how the firm may have viewed Meier's alleged misconduct. A senior associate who was with the firm for 20 years, and who was told about Meier's inappropriate touching of an employee by the woman herself, admitted to the Times,
“It’s not something that was a secret."
In response to the allegations, Robert Gatje, one of Meier's former partners, stated:
“That was 25 years ago. Things were a lot different back then.”
A former partner, Gunter R. Standke, who worked at the firm for 12 years and told the paper he knew Meier "was attracted to young women" and invited them to leave the office with him at the end of the workday, explained his inaction to the Times:
“I had all the European projects...I had no time to watch what Mr. Meier was doing.”
Yikes.
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Honor Thy Planners

WXY's Claire Weisz receives AIA New York's Medal of Honor
WXY Architecture + Urban Design co-founder Claire Weisz has received the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter’s (AIANY) top award, the Medal of Honor. "We are delighted to present to Claire the 2018 Medal of Honor, our chapter's highest level of recognition, for her ongoing career of distinguished work, and her immense contributions to public and civic space in New York," said Benjamin Prosky, executive director of AIANY and the Center for Architecture, in a statement. WXY partner and co-founder Mark Yoes has also been elevated to an AIA Fellow, which recognizes "exceptional work and lasting contributions to architecture and society." Weisz is an avowed urbanist, and WXY has won recognition for a large number of public projects across New York City, including a 2018 AIA Honor Award for their work on the Spring Street Salt Shed. Weisz was named a 2011 Emerging Voices winner, and WXY’s reconstruction of Astor Place and Cooper Square nabbed the studio a mention in AN’s 2017 Best of Design Awards for Urban Design. The studio works at all scales, from master planning enormous developments to designing for coastal resiliency, to street furniture and everything in between. Weisz will be honored at a ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street on April 20 at the annual AIANY Honors and Awards Luncheon. Artist Ai Weiwei, this year’s winner of the Award of Merit, and critic Inga Saffron, winner of the Kliment Oculus Award, will also be recognized at the event alongside the 2018 AIANY Design Awards winners. One set of Design Awards winners who won’t be attending is Richard Meier and Peter Marino, as the AIANY stripped both architects of their 2018 Merit Awards late last month amidst reports of harassment and misconduct.