Posts tagged with "Ada Louise Huxtable":

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Ford Foundation announces renovation of its Kevin Roche–designed headquarters in New York

The Ford Foundation announced today that Gensler will lead a $190 million renovation of its Manhattan headquarters in East Midtown. The renovation will bring the building up to code while preserving the 1967 modernist design by Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo. The renovation will double the square footage available for nonprofits (in part by reducing Ford’s own office footprint) with two floors dedicated to nonprofit organizations, create a new visitor center, art gallery, and event spaces, and open up the existing layout. The foundation is aiming for Gold LEED certification and will be investing in sustainable LED lighting, mechanical and ductwork, and HVAC systems. The building will also be equipped to harvest stormwater and natural daylight. A near-perfect square, the building is distinguished by its 174-foot-high atrium full of fern pines, weeping figs, bougainvillea, and camellia—plantings that will all be replaced with a new design by landscape architect Raymond Jungles. However, the nearly 5,000 pieces of furniture by Warren Platner and Charles and Ray Eames will be reused “as much as possible.” The renovation is expected to be complete summer 2018. Kevin Roche’s original 12-story concrete-and-steel, International Style building was widely praised when it was first built. In The New York Times, Ada Louise Huxtable wrote that the Ford Foundation headquarters is “that rarity, a building aware of its world.” She also quoted Roche on the design, who reportedly said “It will be possible in this building to look across the court and see your fellow man or sit on a bench and discuss the problems of Southeast Asia. There will be a total awareness of the foundation’s activities.” In 1995, the building won the AIA Twenty-Five Year award and in 1997 New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the exterior, atrium glass walls, and garden of the foundation headquarters as an official landmark. This morning, The New York Times reported that the current president of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, takes his responsibility of the building very seriously. “We’re not only grant-makers but stewards of a building that Henry Ford II commissioned and was deeply involved with. This building is part of our legacy and was a gift to the city,” Walker said.
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How Ada Louise Huxtable Saved Salem: Symposium marks the 50th anniversary of urban-renewal critique

On October 13, 1965, the New York Times ran a piece of architecture criticism on its front page, above the fold, spanning five out of seven columns. The writer was Ada Louise Huxtable, and the topic was the looming decimation of downtown Salem, Massachusetts—near Huxtable’s summer home in Marblehead. “Urban Renewal Threatens Historic Buildings in Salem, Mass.,” read the headline. “Foes Fear Plans Will Mar Old New England Heritage.” Those were the dark years between the demolition of New York’s Penn Station in 1963 and passage of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966. Huxtable offered Salem as a case study for the postwar urban-renewal movement that leveled “blighted” communities in favor of highways, garages, parking lots, and new construction, all generally discordant in style and scale. Despite a lack of interest from developers, Salem aimed to demolish 82 percent (39 acres) of the buildings in its historic core. “Across the country, the battle between history and the slipping tax base is on,” Huxtable wrote. But the “conditions, assumptions, and values that make the bulldozer seem the only practical tool” were empty, including the “conservatism and shortsightedness of local commercial interests.” The piece struck nerves nationwide. Within ten years, Salem’s administration had changed, the plan had died, and Salem had launched a public-private program to restore facades, renovate interiors, and improve landscaping and circulation. In 1974 and ‘75, Huxtable wrote follow-up stories, “How Salem Saved Itself from Urban Renewal” and “Good News From the Witch of Salem.” The 50th anniversary of her pivotal piece inspired a symposium held Friday, September 25 at Salem’s Peabody Essex Museum, “ Mightier Than a Wrecking Ball: How Ada Louise Huxtable Saved Salem.” Co-sponsored by Historic Salem, Inc., the Peabody Essex Museum, and Historic New England, the event was conceived in part by Ed Nilsson, a Salem architect who had worked with Huxtable on modifications to her 1958 ranch in Marblehead. Following a short film on Huxtable’s local impact, four speakers shared different perspectives. Christopher Hawthorne, of the Los Angeles Times—whom Huxtable, near the end of her life, called the best architecture critic in the country—broadened the context in his keynote address. Thanks to urban renewal, he said, “We’re still trying to recover from the radical remaking of the landscape” in downtown Los Angeles. Hawthorne called for a change in the 50-year mark of a building’s maturity, as the digital age is having a “profound impact on the speed with which we forget about and rediscover” architectural movements. Preservation advocates, he argued, need to “get ahead of the curve of popular taste, and that means...talking now not about the ‘60s or even the ‘70s, but the 1980s and even the 1990s.” For longtime Huxtable fans, Eric Gibson, arts and culture editor at the Wall Street Journal, delivered a rare treat: scenes from the process of working with “Ada Louise.” Being her editor, he quipped, was “the closest thing to a sinecure...in contemporary journalism.” After an anecdote about touring the George Washington Bridge Bus Station with the elegant octogenarian, Gibson traced the groundwork for her blistering 2012 critique of the proposed renovation of the New York Public Library. “She wanted to make sure the tone was absolutely right,” he emphasized. “She didn’t want to come across as shooting from the hip.” Even so, the story exploded, and, like her original Salem piece, it “shifted the ground of the debate.” Huxtable died a month later, and the library killed the project the following year. Elizabeth Padjen, FAIA, founder and former editor of ArchitectureBoston magazine, presented a balanced history of Salem’s urban-renewal effort. Reminding the crowd that fear and distrust of cities ran deep in the 1950s, she used archival photos to show how troubled Salem had become: Old Town Hall (1816) was surrounded by boarded-up buildings, and “even the bars were closing.” Models of the renewal plan showed how overwhelmingly destructive it would have been, and how poorly it would have been executed. Spotlighting the arrival of the right professionals at the right time, Padjen narrated Salem’s resurgence, over the course of the 1970s, into a place that “celebrates its heritage.” Donovan Rypkema, principal of the Washington, D.C.–based consultancy PlaceEconomics, made an animated case that bolstering a city’s tax base does not, in fact, mean replacing old buildings with new construction. Historic districts, he argued, have economic attributes that can be counterintuitive. If well maintained, they are consistently popular places to live; their density packs more taxpayers into a given area; and they draw “heritage visitors,” who are known to spend well in local businesses. Carl Nold, president and CEO of Historic New England, moderated a panel discussion on preservation and economic development. Throughout the afternoon, Huxtable’s legacy was honored with intelligence and affection. “Her writing effected change,” Gibson said, “preventing catastrophic and irreversible destruction to our architectural heritage and quality of life.”
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Obit> Ada Louise Huxtable, 1921-2013

The legendary architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable has died at 91. Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Huxtable served at architecture critic for the New York Times and was also a contributor of numerous editorials about the city's built environment. She later served as architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal, where she most recently wrote a scathing critique of the proposed renovation of the New York Public Library by Foster + Partners ("You don't 'update' a masterpiece. 'Modernization' may be the most dangerously misused word in the English language.").  Known for the crystalline clarity of her arguments and the cutting precision of her words, Huxtable was unmatched in her lifetime as an architecture critic. She made the city and its architects better. Julie V. Iovine has penned a full remembrance that will run in the next print edition of AN.
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Kimmelman Delivers at Barnard Tonight

Forget for a moment that President Obama bumped the New York TimesJill Abramson from the dais to deliver this year’s commencement address at Barnard and not his alma mater, Columbia College. Tonight, the Times’ architecture critic Michael Kimmelman will be delivering a lecture at Barnard's Diana Center, titled Public Space and Public Consciousness. However, a busy Kimmelman also appeared last night at GSAPP, for a conversation with Columbia Professor Gwendolyn Wright. Kimmelman addressed growing criticism of his focus on the city as a whole as opposed to addressing architecture as buildings, by reminding the audience that he’s only been at the gig for four months and still had plenty to address. He said he had hoped to create a more porous and fluid forum for debate about the city and architecture, through blogs and reader commentary—but that the resources to edit and filter comments at the newspaper are thin, and there was a concern that the blog could be “taken over by crazy people.” He added that Ada Louise Huxtable remains the model for dealing with citywide and policy issues alongside architecture. “A false dichotomy has been set up; there’s this idea that writing about urban affairs and architecture are separate,” he said. “They’re part of the same world.” He acknowledged the criticism. “When is he going to write about…” he parroted an oft-asked question. “...architecture,” Wright finished—before concurring that the same problem exists in academia where a distinct line is drawn between social history and architectural history. Unsurprising for a former European corespondent, he invoked Rome and suggested that rather than looking at Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI as a sculptural object, he could address its Bilbao-esque  intentions. MAXXI may have been positioned as a game changer for an underdeveloped Roman neighborhood, but infrastructural changes needed to be in place to make any real difference. The same thing goes, he contended, at the High Line, whose success now has James Corner getting calls from far flung cities to order up their own High Line that will transform the neighborhood. Kimmelman said such high-profile works of architecture and landscape design are but capstones to what was essentially a very long haul addressing infrastructural and government processes that have little to do with architecture. “It creates the illusion that architecture alone can make a change,” he said said of Gehry's Bilbao. “There was lots of structural and social engineering that preceded the building.” After the event, he spent almost an hour talking with students about sites and projects in New York Public Space and Public Consciousness will be delivered at 6PM tonight at the Event Oval in the Diana Center.