Search results for "Paul Goldberger"

Current Criticism

Fewer than 45 of the approximately 140 newspapers in the United States, with a daily circulation over 75,000 have architecture critics, according to a 2001 survey by the National Arts Journalism Program (NAJP) at Columbia University and only a third of them pursue architecture criticism full-time. Amazingly, cities like Houston, Detroit, and Las Vegassplaces that have undergone huge building booms in recent yearsslack a regular architecture voice. Of the papers that do have critics, half feature fewer than two dozen stories a year; that's less than one every two weeks. And while architecture implicates not just aesthetics and culture but so much elseepolitical economy, ecology, social welfareethese stories are normally relegated to Arts, Style, or Home sections. Thus, as the NAJP study concludes, major buildings and developments routinely go up with no public discourse on their practical or aesthetic meritssthe most public of art forms receives the least amount of arts coverage.. (The study was overseen by Andrrs Szzntt, director of the now defunct NAJP.)

If this state of affairs is lamentable, it's necessary to acknowledge that architecture journalism for the mass public has long been a rarity in this country, with notable exceptions like Montgomery Schuyler at the New York World in the late 19th century and Lewis Mumford at The New Yorker during the middle decades of the twentieth. It was Ada Louise Huxtable, beginning her tenure at The New York Times in 1963 amid that decade's urban upheavals and preservation battles, who coalesced a wide audience for engaged and outspoken architectural criticism. Today, while the issues affecting the built environment are no less contentious or ripe for debate, architecture criticism in its various local venues inevitably finds itself inflected, and distracted, by a far more advanced and globalized culture industry.

The following brief survey of four contemporary critics at high-profile American newspapers is based largely on a reading of articles published over the last year:

Robert Campbell has been architecture critic at the Boston Globe since 1974. Trained as an architectthe received his MArch from Harvard's GSD in 19677Campbell, now 68, garnered the third architecture Pulitzer (after Huxtable and Paul Goldberger) in 1996 for his knowledgeable writing on architecture.. His short-ish articles are conversational, descriptive, and well-mannered. He complains about conservative Bostonn while at the same time betraying a constitutional mistrust of avant-garde pizzazzz; his taste runs to plain old-fashioned modernism.. This doesn't prevent him from acknowledging that Steven Holl's new Simmons dormitory at MIT, if perhaps too inventive,, is daring and beautiful; he likewise reserves final judgment on Gehry's Stata Center, which, despite appearances of being a big, arbitrary sculpture,, reflects serious thinking about how people live and work.. He frequently covers significant events outside Boston, but writes most often and generously about lesser-known architects at home. His interest in architecture as a register of urban and social history is reflected in a regular city sceness feature for the Sunday magazine section on which he collaborates with photographer Peter Vanderwarker.

Blair Kamin is strongly civic-minded and devoted to nurturing architecture culture in his home city. A self-proclaimed activist critic,, he uses the platform he has held at the Chicago Tribune since 1992 not as a bully pulpit so much as a lectern from which to educate the public and to prod architects and municipal officials in socially constructive directions. A graduate of Yale's Master's of Environmental Design program and, like Campbell, a Pulitzer Prize winner (in 1999), the 48-year-old critic has collected his articles of the last decade in a book, Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2001), that reflects his broad-based but Chicago-centric concerns. Didactic, thoughtful, and judicious, he is given to relative judgments and careful distinctions. Less concerned with architectural form-making as such than its impact on people, he dwells on how skyscrapers meet the ground, the livability of tall buildings, the urban vibrancy produced by the clash of styles in Chicago's downtown. At the same time, in a city dominated during the 1990s by its mayor's retro tastes in civic improvement, he often finds himself arguing for contemporary aesthetics. But the shoddy detailing at IIT's Campus Center irks him, notwithstanding the brilliance of Rem Koolhaas' conception.

Nicolai Ouroussoff is younger than Kamin, at 43. Educated at Columbia's architecture school, he was anointed Herbert Muschamp's successor at The New York Times in the summer of 2004. Muschamp's departure was accompanied by demands for a less star-obsessed, more ecumenical replacement. Ouroussoff was quickly presumed to be in the same mold as his predecessor, however, albeit not as self-involved or flamboyant. Indeed, one of Ouroussoff's debut articles, entitled The New New York Skyline,, applauding a trio of luxury towers by Richard Meier, Santiago Calatrava, and Frank Gehry, picked up seamlessly, jumping on Muschamp's favorite hobbyhorse: Manhattan's skyline was once a monument to the relentless forces of modernity, but for decades now the city's reputation as a center of architectural experimentation has been losing ground to London, Barcelona, Beijing, and Shanghaii? Similarly Muschampian was a shrill attack on MoMA's architectural leadership and, in a tribute to Philip Johnson, a description of the Four Seasons as one of the sexiest rooms in the city, with beaded steel curtains that conjure up a woman's slipp?an embarrassing echo of Herbert's evocation of the Guggenheim Bilbao in terms of Marilyn Monroe's skirts. If Koolhaas for years dominated Muschamp's fevered imagination, Ouroussoff's admiration for Gehry and Thom Mayne has likewise already occasioned a lot of New York newsprint. Nor have international celebrities like Herzog & de Meuron and Coop Himmelb(l)au escaped his appreciative attention as, befitting a paper that sees its beat as the whole world, Ouroussoff has begun to file from offshore datelines. At the same time, a string of recent pieces reflecting a firsthand look at New Orleans, and more generally on preservation and urban revitalization issues from Cairo to Columbus Circle and Ground Zero, are evidence of his willingness to take on challenging issues beyond aesthetics.

Christopher Hawthorne, the youngest of the four critics at 35, was appointed to his post at the Los Angeles Times after Ouroussoff's elevation to New York. A graduate of Yale architecture school, he was previously architecture critic a Slate.com. Hawthorne writes lucidly and forcefully, appreciates the complexities of urban planning and the pragmatics of building construction, and doesn't hesitate to tackle intractable issues like the politics of sprawl. He is interested in the back story, and not afraid to state his opinion, even if it's unlikely to win friends. He reserves a certain irony with respect to high-wattagee architecture, as he calls ittnot that he's hostile to it, just streetwise enough not to swallow it whole. Hawthorne effortlessly combines smart visual commentary with informed historical contextualization. It's hard to say whether his greater-depth approach is sufficiently accessible to the general readership. I'm impressed, though, and look forward to following his writing more closely.

It is hardly surprising that in each case the critic reflects the newspaper and city in which he writes. It is also the case that, while all four write professionally, fluently, and at times with passion and verve, none approaches the commanding intellect and culture of, say, a Mumford, or the witty acuity of a Reyner Banham. Huxtable, in her classic Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?? period, used her podium to galvanize a broad base of support for urban improvement, as Jane Jacobs did during the same epoch with her blockbuster Death and Life of Great American Cities. More recently, Muschamp, for all his excesses, was able to grab the public imagination with a maverick style that interspersed flashes of genuine insight and originality. In a more political vein, sharp critics like Mike Davis and Michael Sorkin, contributing to publications like The Nation and the old Village Voice, have attracted loyal adherents, although it's difficult to imagine either of them writing for a mainstream newspaper.

The architecture critic at the general-interest publication has the obligation to write for both a specialist and nonspecialist audience, walk a fine line between advocacy and partisanship, and do more than register new trends. Writing without benefit of historical retrospectionnmost of the time before the project has ceased to be a construction site or computer renderingghe or she has the job of exposing the conditions in which architecture is produced and consumed; to paraphrase Manfredo Tafuri, it's a matter of going backstage rather than continuing to observe the spectacle from a seat in the audience. Beyond this, it helps to love architecture and cities, and to write with a deep knowledge of history, a strong commitment to the public and environmental good, a precise understanding of how buildings are constructed, and (not least) a discerning eye.
Joan Ockman, an architectural historian, teaches at Columbia University and is the director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture.

 

Marisa Bartolucci reads the trades and special-interest magazines,
and sympathizes with architects who say they don't.

This era of kaleidoscopic change shouts out for sagacious critics. We need them to parse the shifting scene and discern imaginative and ethical arcrhitectural esponses. Yet the critical offerings in general interest magazines and the architectural trades are scant. Why some choose to feature criticism, and others don't is bafflinggand depressing. With so much development going on in the city, how can New York magazine be without a critic?

Of what's available, according to this writer's informal poll, little of it is read by architects. Why? Insipid and irrelevant is a common claim. Maybe that's why not long ago a readers' survey at Architecture magazine revealed that its most widely read sections were the editorial and protest pagessthe only places serving up opinion on topical matters.

After perusing an admittedly haphazard sampling of criticism in trade and other special-interest media (i.e., literary, shelter, or weekly publications), I contend there is work out there that's penetrating in analysis, even pertinent to private practice, although little is exhilarating in vision.

Alas, there's no Lewis Mumford on the horizon. (And that may be the fault of magazine editorssgood critics need nurturing.) The Skyline column in The New Yorker long served as the podium for that great thinker. From its heights, he championed Frank Lloyd Wright when others declared him dated; warned against technology dominating human purpose; and railed against the mediocrity of the design for the United Nations Headquarters. (How little things change.)

Today a critic dubbed the great equivocatorr occupies that podium. Although he wields great power, Paul Goldberger seldom strays from consensus views. On occasion, when he does advocate, people listen. A recent article urging that the present plan for Ground Zero be dumped in favor of incorporating cutting-edge residential architecture may have helped galvanize Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to make noises about wresting control of the project.

But if we are not to find challenging architectural criticism in The New Yorker, where else can we look? To the online opinionmaker Slate.com? There, the professorial Witold Rybczynski regularly teaches Beltway readers how to evaluate buildings and understand the forces that shape them. His brief essays range from book reviews to project critiques. An article on why architect-designed emergency housing seldom works was right on the money. But his taste is stale: He applauded David Child's latest version of the Freedom Tower as the best yet.

Until recently, Martin Filler held forth at The New Republic. Why he has absented that post is a mystery and a loss. He is a terrific critic. Flinty principle sparks his writing, which is subtle, but mordant. He insists that great architecture encompasses more than aesthetics. He doesn't shirk from attacking big names.

If the decision makers at Ground Zero had read his review of Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum they might not have mistaken schmaltz for architecture. In a prescient line about the museum, Filler summed up all that would be wrong with Libeskind's Freedom Tower plan: There is such a thing as architecture being too artful for its avowed function, and the Jewish Museum in Berlin is a fine illustration of that conundrum..

While at The New Republic, Filler tackled the usual celebrity suspectssprobably the only ones his Washington-focused editors considered worthy. Every so often, for The New York Review of Books, he contributes long, probing essays on subjects like the rebuilding of Berlin or the rebuilding of Ground Zero. These pieces allow him to show off his ample erudition and his fine eye. Architects, take a subscription.

Meanwhile, in his bimonthly column for shelter magazine House & Garden, his choice of subjects has been eclectic, ranging from a celebration of the planned community of Radburn, New Jersey, to a trenchant critique of Yoshio Taniguichi's Museum of Modern Art. The big new MoMA amounts to little, architecturally,, he writes. It is no small irony that the museum that codified the International Style and thus exerted a profound influence on 20th-century architecture again finds itself in a building markedly less distinguished than the unequaled modern treasures it contains..

Filler's unflinching assessment is noteworthy in light of the vacillating judgments of his peers. In Architectural Record, Suzanne Stephens intrepidly enumerated the $450 million building's numerous flaws, but in the end, still heaped on the praise: It's what the Modern always wanted to be.. Is it any wonder why practitioners don't read these journals? Reportedly, even Taniguchi is disappointed.

At this architecture tabloid, Julie Iovine brings bracing realism to her new Crit column. Last July, she took a detached look at the sudden wave of wildly ambitious urban development schemes being proposed for the city and their suspiciously enthusiastic civic and critical embrace. If such clear-thinking, straight-talking works are what's ahead, this column may become a must-read.

But few publications provide the gritty evaluations of what works and what doesn'ttthe information architects crave because it relates to their practices. This should be a service of the trades, as important as their reporting on the latest developments in materials and building science. Instead, they focus only on presenting glossy images of flashy, big-name projects. These are carefully described, but only superficially assessed. Rushing to publish as soon as the last nail is hammered, as if buildings were the latest Paris fashions, leaves little time to gather reports on how a building functions. Without such information how can true judgments be made of an architect's achievements, both aesthetic and technical?

Architectural Record's regular Critique column features alternating essays by Robert Campbell and Michael Sorkin, which ruminate more than provoke. But sometimes sparks do fly. Last April, Campbell carped about the notion of architecture as symbol. Two issues later, Sorkin ambushed him. It wasn't sporting, but in a series of dazzlingly erudite thrusts and parries, he shredded Campbell's argument.

Face-offs like these energize everyone's critical thinking. Last June, The Prospect, a British monthly, published a series of letters between Deyan Sudjic and Charles Jencks debating, coincidentally, the merits of iconic architecture. Following the divergence and convergence of their views on subjects ranging from aesthetics to professional ethics was fascinating.

The most brilliant critic on our shores may be Sorkin. His essays can take you on a thrill ride through learned discourse, lefty idealism, pop culture, and occasionally, Jewish shtick. Why he never won a Pulitzer when he was at the Village Voice is a scandal. (Huxtable, Temko, Goldberger, Campbell, and Kamin all have them.) Sorkin may be a smarty pants, but he is fearless. He skewered Philip Johnson when he was architecture's minence grise. (Most critics waited until after his death to bury him.) A year ago, Sorkin called Frank Gehry on the moral incongruity of designing a satellite to the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalemma city with little tolerance for its own Palestinian citizens and neighbors. Eminence has its responsibility,, he observed, which extends beyond the realm of professional practice.. An intrepid thinker, a joker, a scholar, a moral iconoclast, Sorkin represents what every young architecture critic should aspire to be.

Certainly, he is a model for Philip Nobel, who has enlivened the pages of Metropolis for the past few years. Nobel sure writes well. Like adolescent love letters, Nobel's columns can ache with emotion. And that's not a bad thing. He makes you believe great buildings matter. But the trouble with adolescents, who like Nobel swing between idealism and cynicism, is they're self-absorbed. No matter what Nobel writes about, it always comes back to him. At times he verges on slipping into Muschampian territory, which can lead, as we all know, to critical oblivion.

Architecture needs smart, brave voices. Nobel's got one. If he can concentrate on substance, he might make more architects into readers. And just maybe improve the profession.
Marisa Bartolucci lives in New York and writes about design.

 

Vittorio Gregotti ruminates on criticism in Italy, the epicenter of
architectural publishing, and asserts its inextricable link to history.

The state of architectural criticism in Italyyand probably in much of Europeeis rooted in a theoretical attitude that belongs to the tradition of architectural history. The members of this tradition include the critics and historians of my generation, whose most important representative was Manfredo Tafuri, who was a follower of Giulio Carlo Argan, a Marxist and one-time mayor of Rome, and the most important critic and historian of modern architecture between 1930 and 1960. Two other important critics of the 20th century, albeit ones coming from a different and opposing point of view, are Leonardo Benevolo and Bruno Zevi, who despite their scholarship, were inclined to write occasionally for non-specialized public- ations, such as daily newspapers and weekly magazines. A special position within this generation was occupied, too, by Ernesto Nathan Rogers, known for his accomplishments as an architect, editor of Domus, and Casabella, and cultural polemicist.

In Italy, architecture critics, in the strict sense of the term (thus excluding historians and university professors of history), operate in a relatively narrow field because the mass media are not interested in the specific problems of architecture as a practice and culture. Only two daily newspapers in Italy express an ongoing critical interest in architecture: the economics newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and the general interest La Repubblica. Fulvio Irace writes for the former, while I myself have been contributing to the latter for about 10 years. Of the general-interest weekly magazines, only L'Espresso publishes a regular column dedicated to architecture, which was written for many years written by Bruno Zevi and has been written by architect Massimiliano Fuksas since 2000. Printed articles in other daily newspapers and weekly magazines are both rare and infrequent. Italian television offers few opportunities to speak about architecture; when it does, it is usually in relationship to exceptional exhibitions or events, and done in a very general and superficial manner. When mainstream media does look at architecture, it is to gawk at technical marvels, scandalous episodes of building speculation, and sometimes sociological issues, for example, concerning housing. In recent years, the aesthetic novelties proposed by architects have also generated interest, with special focus on bizarre elements, justified by a generic idea of creativity. Such coverage tends to make architecture resemble objects of mass consumption and entertainment.

Italy naturally boasts a vast range of specialized architectural magazines: Area, the newest and most luxurious publication, is solidly focused on architectural construction; Architettura, cronaca e storia, founded by Bruno Zevi, is now decisively on the wane; Parametro and Abitare, suspended somewhere between interior design and architecture; and Rassegna, which has recently returned with a more aesthetic and technological focus. Op. Cit is a small magazine full of critical reflections that is published in Naples. Lotus occupies a special position because of its thematic format and its attitude towards confronting various issues on a more theoretical level. Giornale dell'Architettura, directed by Carlo Olmo and published every 15 days, appears to be more innovative and aimed at uniting the criticism, discipline, and politics of architecture.

Italy can boast no relevant publications by any architecture school, despite the exorbitant number of studentssroughly 60,0000which is far out of proportion to the actual demand for architects in the country. There are more fashion, furniture, and design magazines that cover the middle ground shared by architects' activities and the problems of architecture.

The saddest story affects the country's two most important architectural magazines, which were once so influential. On the one hand, Casabella (which I myself edited from 1982 to 1996) has lost its traditional critical influence and position in the debate about architecture. On the other, Domus has assumed a conventional and modish take on architecture as fashion. Domus has opened itself to the strong influences of the visual arts or those who wish to substitute buildings with events,, influenced by Koolhaasian sociology of spontaneity.

If we exclude the publications that deal strictly with the history of architecture, even the history of modernist architecture, the architectural essays typically produced in Italy can be divided into two major types: monographs on currently practicing architects (Italian and non) and specifically critical essays. While the specimens in former group are over-abundant, even in the rhetoric of their editorial presentation, examples of the latter are quite rare and tend to receive much less attention. A third type of publication is the architecture exhibition catalogue. In this category, particular importance is helddin my opinion, entirely negativeeby the architectural exhibitions of the Venice Biennale, the Triennale di Milano, or other elaborate, event-like productions, such the 2004 Arte e Architettura exhibition organized in Genoa by Germano Celant, who contributed to confusing architecture and the visual arts, attempting to reduce the first to the second.

Naturally, plenty of writers are producing treatises about fashionable topics, such as computer-generated design, the politics of urban planning, ecology, or general aesthetic trends. These theoretical philosophies are, in general, hurried deductions and poorly interpreted.

The debate between ancient and modern is particularly relevant in the Italian historical-geographical context. It is contested on the one hand by the globalist and anti-contextual ideology that tends to make any work of architecture an enlarged design object, and on the other by institutions that tend to concentrate debate on single, monumental examples rather than dealing with the design of the urban environment or the landscape as an essential part of the actual construction of architecture. In this arena, Salvatore Settis is undoubtedly one of the most seriously involved figures operating at the critical level. The professor at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa and former director of the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art writes for diverse publications, including Il Sole 24 Ore.

Practicing architects write very little, unless it is for reasons of self-justification. If I had to name two writers who are dealing intelligently with theoretically-based issues, I would limit myself to mentioning Bernardo Secchi, who teaches urban planning at the University Institute of Architecture of Venice, for his investigations into urban and territorial issues related to the city and the landscape; and architect Franco Purini for issues dealing with the logic ofarchitectural morphology.

In any case, Italian architecture currently lives a general crisis of uncertainty. It is totally dependent on the ideologies of the global market, marginally concerned with technique and science, and hiding behind the neo-avant-gardism of the diffused aesthetic of consumerism. As a result, critical voices who understand architecture as capable of serving as the foundation for a civil society have become increasingly rare.
Architect, city planner, and author, Vittorio Gregotti is the principal of Gregotti Associati. He contributes the regular architecture criticism column to La Repubblica.

Because the entitlements of loss and grief are the third rail of the [WTC] rebuilding effort, no one has challenged the subversion of the aims and intent of the plan. The parts that speak of hope and the future have not been able to survive the pressure for a single-minded commitment to the tragic past ... No one has had the courage, or conviction, to demand that the arts be restored to their proper place as one of the city's greatest strengths and a source of its spiritual continuity. We have lost what we hoped to gainna creative rebirth downtown. At Ground Zero, what should be first is last. An affirmation of life is being reduced to a culture of death.
Ada Louise Huxtable, Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2005

 

 

 

 

Rem Koolhaassnow the most overexposed architect since Frank Gehry, is likely to be the token avant-garde contestant. He has already declared his interestt?I seem to be one of the few architects who liked enormously the World Trade Centerr? Self-serving though that tribute to Minoru Yamaski's behemoths may sound, Koolhaas has indeed always indulged a perverse weakness for Nelson Rockefeller's most bombastic architectural boondoggles, particularly those designed by his court architect Wallace K. Harrison, to whose chilly 1950s-style urbanism he paid homage in his retrograde master plan for the French city of Lille.
Martin Filler, The New Republic, September 6, 2002

 

 

 

How skyscrapers meet the ground is as important as how they scrape the sky. It is not encouraging that Calatrava's tower will emerge from a tiered, four-story podium like a stripper popping out of a cake. That is a crude way to bring a skyscraper to the street. It makes this tower resemble a piece of sculpture on a pedestal, fit for an on-the-make, look-at-me Persian Gulf boomtown like Dubai. But this is Chicago, where we don't need to put ourselves on the map. We need great architectureeand the thoughtful civic debate that is essential to creating it.
Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, July 27, 2005

 

 

 

We have high expectations of our best artists because their work and words carry special weight. It is not possible to build this project [Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem] without an opinion on larger issuessreal issues of toleranceein the region. What is Gehry's? This is not a question of the use of titanium versus Jerusalem stone. It is one of justice.
Michael Sorkin, Architectural Record, June 2004

 

 

 

What twins [Marilyn Monroe] and the [Guggenheim Bilbao] in my memory is that both of them stand for an American style of freedom. That style is voluptuous, emotional, intuitive, and exhibitionist. It is mobile, fluid, material, mercurial, fearless, radiant and as fragile as a newborn child. It can't resist doing a dance with all the voices that say ''No.'' It wants to take up a lot of space. And when the impulse strikes, it likes to let its dress fly up in the air.
Herbert Muschamp, The New York Times, September 7, 1997

 

 

 

If the very idea that has, arguably more than any other, helped define Southern California for a century has been rendered obsolete, what does that mean for the region's vision of itself? Will density spell the end of the unique relationship between Angelenos and their houses? Will residential architecture simply fade as a factor in defining the city in the coming century? The great challenge for the city's residential architects over the next couple decades will be making the old model of affordable charisma fresh and relevant again for a post-sprawl (or even a post-post-sprawl) Los Angeles.
Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times,
July 7, 2005

 

 

 

Even at this early stage, the [planned East River] esplanade is one of the few current projects to give voice to a young generation of architects intent on redefining our vision of the contemporary metropolis. Along with the High Lineewhich transforms a section of gritty elevated tracks in downtown into a public gardennit represents a clear and much-needed break from the quaint Jane Jacobssinspired vision of New York that is threatening to transform Manhattan into a theme park version of itself, a place virtually devoid of urban tension. It proves that there are still some in the city who are culturally daring, even if their numbers at times seem to be dwindling.
Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times,
June 28, 2005

 

 

 

Lincoln Center has sometimes seemed less the vibrant source of the neighborhood's energy than the empty hole in the middle of the doughnut. Often there is more buzz on the sidewalk in front of the multiplex theater a couple of blocks north, or amid the parade of mall-like retail stores that now line Broadway, than there is at Lincoln CenterrLincoln Center needs, desperately, a shot of adrenalinee
Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker, July 7, 2003

Eavesdrop Issue 16_10.05.2005

THE NATIVES ARE RESTLESS
As MoMA prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of its redesign and expansion, some of its neighbors are in no mood to celebrate. Frustrated members of the West 54th and 55th Street Block Association have barraged us with complaints about the asphalt-covered vacant lot adjacent to the museum. MoMA owns the land and currently uses it to corral its long lines of visitors and, occasionally, for storage as well. “What MoMA’s got up there are these hideous red barricades,” one disgruntled resident describes. “It’s a slap in the face to the people who live on this street and an embarrassment for our city,” he continues, recalling one German tourist who was taking snapshots of the offending lot because “it’s so ugly he told me he had to show it to his friends back in Hamburg.” (It seems not much is going on in Hamburg these days.) He also tells us that, at the earlier suggestion of the project manager for MoMA’s renovation, the Block Association has drawn up an inexpensive plan for trees and benches that would spruce things up until the museum decides what to do with the land. However, “We’ve repeatedly requested the opportunity to show our ideas to someone who is empowered to make decisions,” he says, “but the museum has refused.” In a written statement, a MoMA rep tells us that it “does not have any current long-term plans for the property” and “will continue to have a dialogue with the neighbors [and] keep them informed of new developments.” The neighbors’ likely response? To the barricades!

 

NAME-CALLING
Last month, we attended a lunch at Parsons for the groundbreaking of its new campus center, which will better combine its main buildings, and came to two conclusions. One, we love Lyn Rice’s design for the project. Two, we hate Parsons’s new name. If you haven’t heard, Parsons School of Design is now “Parsons The New School for Design.” And no, that last part is not meant as a tagline. It is the official name, as in, “Hi, I’m Paul Goldberger, the dean of Parsons The New School for Design.” But don’t blame Goldberger; he’s just a victim. The new name was handed down from The New School, of which Parsons is a part. And we here at Eavesdrop The Gossip Column of Architecture think it sounds really stupid…

REAL CELEBRITY ARCHITECTS
Adam Sandler and David Hasselhoff are headed for the covers of Architectural Record and Oculus-at least in Click, a forthcoming movie in which Sandler plays an overworked young architect in a big New York firm, led by Hasselhoff. Sources tell us that the movie’s producers, inspired by the offices of Morphosis, wanted to replicate Thom Mayne’s wall of fame, and asked the magazines’ editors for permission to create mock issues that feature the fictional starchitects. In addition, we’re told the AIA national office provided Call for Entries posters, awards certificates, member pins, and other paraphernalia-all for authenticity’s sake. However, rumors persist that Sandler and Hasselhoff's characters will have a sense of humor…Meanwhile, Architectural Record also supplied back issues to prop a film called Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, in which Wilson plays an architect who breaks it off with Thurman, who happens to be a superhero. “Apparently, there’s nothing so vicious as a superhero who gets dumped,” says Record’s managing editor Ingrid Spencer. Architects, on the other hand, are used to it.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

Eavesdrop Issue 16_10.05.2005

THE NATIVES ARE RESTLESS
As MoMA prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of its redesign and expansion, some of its neighbors are in no mood to celebrate. Frustrated members of the West 54th and 55th Street Block Association have barraged us with complaints about the asphalt-covered vacant lot adjacent to the museum. MoMA owns the land and currently uses it to corral its long lines of visitors and, occasionally, for storage as well. What MoMA's got up there are these hideous red barricades,, one disgruntled resident describes. It's a slap in the face to the people who live on this street and an embarrassment for our city,, he continues, recalling one German tourist who was taking snapshots of the offending lot because it's so ugly he told me he had to show it to his friends back in Hamburg.. (It seems not much is going on in Hamburg these days.) He also tells us that, at the earlier suggestion of the project manager for MoMA's renovation, the Block Association has drawn up an inexpensive plan for trees and benches that would spruce things up until the museum decides what to do with the land. However, We've repeatedly requested the opportunity to show our ideas to someone who is empowered to make decisions,, he says, but the museum has refused.. In a written statement, a MoMA rep tells us that it does not have any current long-term plans for the propertyy and will continue to have a dialogue with the neighbors [and] keep them informed of new developments.. The neighbors' likely response? To the barricades!

NAME-CALLING
Last month, we attended a lunch at Parsons for the groundbreaking of its new campus center, which will better combine its main buildings, and came to two conclusions. One, we love Lyn Rice's design for the project. Two, we hate Parsons's new name. If you haven't heard, Parsons School of Design is now Parsons The New School for Design.. And no, that last part is not meant as a tagline. It is the official name, as in, Hi, I'm Paul Goldberger, the dean of Parsons The New School for Design.. But don't blame Goldberger; he's just a victim. The new name was handed down from The New School, of which Parsons is a part. And we here at Eavesdrop The Gossip Column of Architecture think it sounds really stupidd

REAL CELEBRITY ARCHITECTS
Adam Sandler and David Hasselhoff are headed for the covers of Architectural Record and Oculus-at least in Click, a forthcoming movie in which Sandler plays an overworked young architect in a big New York firm, led by Hasselhoff. Sources tell us that the movie's producers, inspired by the offices of Morphosis, wanted to replicate Thom Mayne's wall of fame, and asked the magazines' editors for permission to create mock issues that feature the fictional starchitects. In addition, we're told the AIA national office provided Call for Entries posters, awards certificates, member pins, and other paraphernalia-all for authenticity's sake. However, rumors persist that Sandler and Hasselhoff's characters will have a sense of humorrMeanwhile, Architectural Record also supplied back issues to prop a film called Super Ex-Girlfriend, starring Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson, in which Wilson plays an architect who breaks it off with Thurman, who happens to be a superhero. Apparently, there's nothing so vicious as a superhero who gets dumped,, says Record's managing editor Ingrid Spencer. Architects, on the other hand, are used to it.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com

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Report From Ground Zero

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Deans List

The New York area has a concentration of arguably the most powerful educators in the country. We've assembled eleven deanssfour new to their respective institutions, and two new to the post entirelyyto ask them about their schools and the state of architectural education.
Photography by Yoko Inoue

Certain architecture schools under certain deans have managed to capture the sense of their epoch while simultaneously moving the profession forward. One thinks of Walter Gropius at Harvard's GSD, Yale under Paul Rudolph, John Hejduk at Cooper Union, Alvin Boyarsky at the AA, Bernard Tschumi at Columbia, and Peter Cook at the Bartlett. One cannot imagine these places without the strong leadership of their deans. Gropius founded the GSD and helped bring modernism to the United States, while Rudolph encouraged debate among his faculty and never required a party line. Hejduk forged a new way of thinking about and representing architecture. Each set a course for architecture with which every subsequent generation has had to contend. As architecture regains cultural currency, its protagonists are being asked again to imagine how our surroundings might look, work, and grow. Architectural educators have immense potential to influence the shape of the world to come. Here's how they are rising to the challenge. Anne Guiney, Cathy Lang Ho, William Menking

 

 

George Ranalli
City College of New York
School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture
Founded: 1968
# of students: 360 undergrad., 24 grad.
Dean since: 1994

When I came to City College, the school had- n't had a dean in 10 yearssthere was clearly some institutional neglect. City College students got a strong technical education and had a sense of public serviceemany ended up doing public work, at the Government Services Administration or the New York City Housing Authority, for exampleebut not so strong in design. I have been working to reintroduce design by building up the senior faculty, hiring a junior faculty of practitioners making their mark, and starting an annual lecture series. We also have new graduate programs, like the Master in Urban Design. And we are moving into a new buildinggour first independent oneewhich is a tremendous show of institutional support for the program. There is still a great tradition of public service and interest in public architecture. We have the City College Architectural Center (CCAC), which allows students and faculty to work with community groups on design and planning. CCAC has done studies in the Bronx and Yonkers, in addition to more theoretical surveys. There are many ways to theorize about architecture and buildingssas objects, in historical contexts, et ceteraabut there are still too many eccentricities from when architecture started grave-robbing other disciplines for ideas. When the primary starting point is one of juxtaposition and not amelioration, you end up with something that is indifferent to site, weather, culture, and so on. So much theory is still shrouded in a premise of juxtaposition and surrounded by the aura of the architect-as-artist, without any concern for the ability to connect. We need a reformation of architecture as an ameliorative force.


Mark Wigley
Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation
Founded: 1881
# of students: Approx. 600 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004 (interim dean since 2003)

I see the school as an international laboratory for developing experimental visions of what an architect might be. Not only do we help every student to be state of the artt to produce brilliant buildings, plans, and policiesswe are also continually redefining the state of the art. That's what the school has done so well, and that's what students from 55 different countries come here for. In the last 15 years, many celebrated experiments were developed here but now is the time to complete the test by moving our innovations into the world, engaging it technically, politically, and socially. This doesn't mean the school becomes less experimental. On the contrary. A whole new possibility of conversation opens up with clients, politicians, artists, the public, the profession, engineers, and the construction industry. The school will therefore spend a lot more time out in the streets and bring more of the outside in. We brought in over 200 speakers last spring alone. A more fluid form of organization is already emerging within the school, allowing it to keep changing shape as the demands facing the profession change. What I'm trying to do is encourage a fertile biodiversity of people and positions, a lively ecology that allows the whole school to operate as an intelligent organism, adjusting itself in order to think through each new issue. If you only gave students what you thought was the right set of skills and concepts, our discipline would be dead in a few years. To serve the profession, we need to give students what the profession doesn't yet want or understand. The real purpose of a school like ours is not to cultivate a certain type of architecture but a certain evolution in architectural intelligence.


Anthony Vidler
The Cooper Union
Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Founded: Degree in Architecture, 1964;
School of Architecture, 1975
# of students: Approx. 150 undergrad.
Dean since: 2002.

If I'm attempting anything as dean, it is to encourage the community of teachers and students to come at problems from a critical point of view, approaching them as starting points for research. We have a common approach to all studios, always beginning a design problem with historical, formal, and technological analysis. So the students' work is not about imitation but rather about revealing the hidden complexities, paradoxes, and disjunctions within a problem. Cooper Union is, on every level, a design research institution. Everything we do is geared at understanding the limits of problems and pushing those limits, raising questions about how we live in the world today. Understanding globalism is not a question of sensitivity-training but rather of serious research into questions of cultural, social, economic, and ecological difference as they imply the need for inventive architectural solutions. Our challenge now is how to integrate these questions into a teaching framework, how to restructure the traditional disciplinary divisions so that they naturally embody a global reachhthe type of study that Spiro Kostof tried to develop for many years at U.C. Berkeley. There has been a tendency from the professionally oriented sector to question the validity of theory. But this is a result, I think, of the fact that the very idea of Theoryy has become isolated as a subject in and of itself, an example of academia's need to divide its subjects into courses. The best theoryy of architecture is no more or less than thinking deeply about architecture. Any design has a theoretical construction embedded in it, whether you like it or not. Cooper has always joined its intellectual investigations to a deep, tactile sense of urban responsibility. For us, the question is how to activate that sensibility so that it's socially and culturally effective. I'd rather produce a powerfully responsible citizen of the world, an architect who has knowledge and skills but is still inquiring how to best apply them, than someone who automatically knows what a building should look like..


Mohsen Mostafavi
Cornell University
College of Architecture, Art, and Planning
Founded: 1871
# of students: 320 undergrad., 60 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004

Cornell's architecture school has had a long and fascinating history. I am especially intrigued by the tension, dating to the 1960s and 70s, between the objectivity of O. M. Ungers, who was dean here, and the historicity of Colin Rowe, who taught here for 30 years. This is the kind of positive, productive competition of ideas that makes Cornell interesting. The AA [where I was head] was an architecture center but here I find myself working with not only the three departments of the College but potentially almost any other part of the surrounding university. Since I believe that architecture must interact with the world I am excited about the collaborative possibilities with other departments. I can imagine our students working with the molecular biology department on tissue research or with the City and Regional Planning Department whose new chair, Kenneth Reardon, leads a program that is politically inclined and working in many underserved communities. I am interested in making our students global practitioners. We've had a strong Rome program for many years and I am investigating links with both India and South America. Presently, I am looking for space in New York City to open a Cornell outpost. I am not supportive of studios that teach the same projects year after year. I want projects that anticipate future political possibilities as well as the formal art of architecture, balancing traditional education with emerging applications of practice and design.


Judith DiMaio
New York Institute of Technology
School of Architecture and Design
Founded: 1973
# of Students: 726 undergrad., 14 grad.
Dean since: 2001

This is a different school in that it operates in three different campuses and each with its own student culture. The Old Westbury campus is a commuter school with digital studios but most students work at home on their own computers. The Manhattan campus is the most technologically advanced and has a large proportion of foreign students who bring an international perspective to the school. Finally, the Central Islip campus has fewer commuting students since it has dormitories. Studios there still tend to emphasize free-hand drawing over computer rendering. The kind of education I had at Cornelllprescriptive and formulaiccno longer works in the global world. It's not what students need today and it's not what the marketplace demands from them. I don't believe you can teach architecture. You can only teach students how to see and be self-critical. Using the eye, the mind, and the hand is a precarious balance. We're trying to achieve this, in part, by introducing a curriculum that embraces a range of representation techniques, including free-hand drawing, watercolor, sketchbook drawing, perspective, and advanced visualization. I am also attempting to strengthen our history and theory courses and have hired Bryan Bryce Taylor to oversee this part of the curriculum. And to broaden our students' horizons, I have instituted a Berlin study program in addition to our Rome and Spain programs.


Paul Goldberger
Parsons School of Design
Founded: School in 1896; Department of Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting
(previously Environmental Design), 1984
# of students: 140 undergrad., 102 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004

As someone who's spent his life as a critic seeking and establishing bridges between architecture and the rest of the world, I took this job in part because I think education is supposed to do the same thing. Architec-tural education is much more than professional training. It is also about examining the role of architect in culture. Parsons is emphatically not a vocational school. Nor is it the art department of a liberal arts school. It's an intellectually rigorous version of an art and design school. One of our distinctions is that we are one of the few architecture programs with an interior design program. Also, we are trying to take advantage of the New School as much as possible. For example, we are talking to the Actor's Studio and the Mannes College of Music about developing a Stage Design program together. There's a need for architectural education to go in several directions simultaneously that might appear contradictory but are not. There's a need for greater connection to other disciplines and to the real worlds of politics, economics, and culture. There's also a need internally for architectural education to focus more proactively on issues of pure professional practice, on the things you need to know in order to practice. What ties these two ideas together is that, different though they seem, both are ways of breaking away from a hermetic, self-theoretical idea of architecture.


Thomas Hanrahan
Pratt Institute
School of Architecture
Founded: 1887
# of students: 500 undergrad., 100 grad.
Dean since: 1996

From the beginning, Pratt Institute has worked along the model of the European polytechnic school, trying for a horizontal integration in the education of designers, builders, engineers, artists, and inventors. As architecture schools everywhere grew towards a more professional focus, there was a narrower definition of what architecture is, but to a large extent, we have maintained that identity and goal. Pratt is a large school, and we draw on all its strengths. Critical thinking skills are paramounttthe ability to define the activity of architecture as research and not just the more narrow approach of problem-solving. As students gain more diverse ideas about architecture and its sources, the entrenched boundaries of professionalism start to give way. At Pratt, we are building on the legacy of the polytechnic, and looking at how things are made in the information age. When computer software showed up, the challenge on a basic level was What can we draw?? We're now in the second wave of in-formation architecture, with much more complex structural implications. We have to ask what comes after the elaborate renderings and models, and find the next steps. It goes back to the Bauhaus model of rethinking disciplinary boundaries. When Sybil Moholy-Nagy from the Bauhaus lectured here in the 1960s, she urged students to think and live experimentally.. One of the broader questions is how architecture can reinvent itself, and make itself continually relevant? It cannot be understood as just competent on a basic level; it must be relevant as well. The world around us continually reinvents architecture's mandates and these mandates must be constantly placed before students.


Stan Allen
Princeton University School of Architecture
Founded: 1919
# of students: 50 undergrad., 70 grad.
Dean since: 2002

The School of Architecture at Princeton is a small programmwe only accept 8 percent of those who apply. The size is good for students who thrive in an intense, competitive atmosphere. Our graduate programs are well known for their active faculty and graduates. And the undergraduate program, though less visible, turns out really fantastic students. This is a product of the university's emphasis on rigorous teaching standards in its undergraduate programs. In the 1990s history and theory seemed to drive design schools and even practice. It is my intention to recuperate a design culture for the schoollone that builds on our history/theory expertise but rethinks the relation-ship to practice. I believe the old dichotomy between academia and practice needs to change. In fact, the world seems to be coming back to architecture with a new appreciation of its value to culture and the city. This dichotomy comes together around the city. I want Princeton not to remain above the fray but to enter it by utilizing our students' tremendous visual, verbal, and organizational skills and begin imagining possible urban futures. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country so we are situated in an incredible laboratory of emerging 21st-century urbanism.


Alan Balfour
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Department of Architecture
# of students: 260 undergrad., 65 grad.
Dean since: 1996

At Rensselaer, I created a program that's categorically different from many other architecture schools. At the graduate level I built a series of masters programs in a spectrum of fields, including a Ph.D. in architectural sciences. As part of the architecture school I inherited the Lighting Research Center, which was funded by NYSERDA when it was founded in 1991 and adopted by the lighting industry for establishing standards. The industry invests $800,000 a year in its research. I don't think a lot of architecture schools have a strong research center built into the degrees. When I arrived, the school almost self-consciously avoided big-name architects, perhaps out of distrust of the type of architecture that's personality-driven. I'm not necessarily against the prima donna card; my own mentoring came from Kahn and Eisenman. The real influence is the experience of a strong will. Look at Zaha Hadid. She is driven by sensuality. Her work is felt; it's not about theory. The infinite promise of the computer somehow makes the idea of critical theory a minor irritation. The tools of the architect have moved work beyond any simplistic issues of semantic order. These tools allow us to explore more broadly the nature of natural and manmade order. The main challenge is looking for faculty. In order to sustain the research, two-thirds of our recent hires have advanced research backgrounds. At the same time, I've brought in some talented designers, like William Massie, Andrew Saunders, and Anna Dyson. I loved the AAAthe graduate school, in fact, was created by me while I was head of the school [from 1990 to 1996]. But what I love about RPI is that I see the students graduating from all the programs with an immense confidence in what they know. The AA was the reverse. We didn't give them competence in what they knew as much as openness to immense mysteries.


Mark Robbins
Syracuse University School of Architecture
Founded: 1873 # of students: 383 undergrad., 80 grad.
Dean since: Fall 2004

Even the most successful schools need a shake up periodically because architecture is not static, and schools can't be. Syracuse hardly needs a shake-up, but one of the things I can bringgas an architect, artist, and with my experience in policy from the National Endowment for the Artssis an interest in and ability to bridge communities. The new chancellor has a mandate to develop a creative campus,, one in which we think about the university in relation to the city. It's not just about making adjacencies between deans and departments, but breaking down the wall to the city. In some cities, it might be less critical to make a connection, but here, we have the potential to bring people into the campus through art, architecture, site installations, and other thingssand get them thinking, Hey, there's some- thing going on there.. The city of Syracuse is small enough that we can help energize and impact it. The proof is not just in the city's acceptance, though; we have to develop certain things in the students: The sense that they have the techniques of their discipline in problem-solving, theoretical expansiveness, and the ability to communicate exceptional ideas to a non-specific audience. Most of the students feel an intellectual responsibility to practice in some way. Above all, I want to instill a creative engagement in the students. Their five years here is just the beginning, and a curiosity that leads in many directions will compel them for the rest of their lives. And by the wayyit doesn't snow here 365 days a year!


Robert A. M. Stern
Yale University School of Architecture
Founded: 1916
# of students: 192 grad.
Dean since 1998

The Yale School of Architecture has histori- cally been open to all ideas, and while not overtly ideological, it has emphasized theoretical rather than practical matters. The fundamental philosophical breadth of our approach is not only curricular and geographical but also artistic; we refuse to promote a single conception of what architecture is or might become. It is never about one thinggit is a constellation of possibilities. A university is about open questions, not definitive answers. The first obligation of an architecture school should be to its own discipline. But that does not mean that architecture can be studied in a vacuum. We reach outside our field in many ways. We ask critics, artists, environmentalists, sociologists, and others to share their ideas with us. To succeed in his or her art, an architect must be a thinker and a maker, empowered by knowledge and a certain sense of humility. At Yale, we believe that architecture is construction, context, and so much more: It is a culture, a commitment, and a lifelong path to discovery. We have a very active public lecture series and the best exhibition schedule of any American university. But the thing that makes the school truly special is our endowed chairs. We have five fully endowed visiting chairs, which bring the world's leading practitioners to the school to teach a studio for a semester. We have also just instituted an endowed chair for junior faculty that will bring some of the best young designers to New Haven.

Paul Goldberger Named Dean of Parsons

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