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.
Posts tagged with "criticism":
Coincidentally, this video of legendary art critic Robert Hughes's 1980s television series The Shock of the New was passed around the AN offices yesterday morning. We were saddened to hear of Hughes death at the age of 74 later that day. This television series and his role as chief art critic for Time magazine made him a fixture of the cultural world, and his opinionated, sometimes combative, no holds barred attitudes on art and architecture made him a lively and engaging writer and commentator. In describing Damien Hirst's The Virgin Mother then on display at the Lever House in Manhattan, Hughes said, "Isn't it a miracle what so much money and so little ability can produce. Just extraordinary." And there you have it.
Pulitzer-prize winning Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin had better go hat shopping. He’s got another feather for his chapeau! A super prestigious Neiman Fellowship from Harvard! “My aspirations for the fellowship are straightforward: To return to my job refreshed and refocused, so I can provide our readers with the most sophisticated, discerning coverage of architecture—and, in the process, to demonstrate anew why newspapers should cover this inescapable art,” Kamin told Time Out Chicago. Congratulations Blair. Don’t get tempted to stay on the coast. The Midwest needs you!
Thinkin' Lincoln. IBM is taking over the Lincoln Center through October 23rd with one of the biggest interactive technology exhibits in the city: IBM Think Exhibit. Highlights include the 123-feet long "data wall" and a forest of 40 seven-foot media panels. More at Inhabitat. Bronx Beauty. The New York Times' new archi-critic, Michael Kimmelman, has penned his first review, shying away from the iconic, gleaming projects of his predecessor, instead beginning with Via Verde affordable housing in the South Bronx, which may help him demonstrate that quality trumps quantity, especially in moral debates of architecture. Biking Sacrifice. Atlantic Cities reported that cyclists in urban environments might want to be wary of cars for more than just accident risks: harmful automobile emissions create a hazard for cyclists as well. According to new research, bikers inhale more than twice the amount of black carbon particles as pedestrians do in the same trip.
An internal New York Times email, acquired by AN today, announced that Michael Kimmelman would start this fall as the New York Times’ new chief architecture critic. Citing Kimmelman as “one of the paper’s great writers”, Jonathan Landman, deputy managing editor, wrote how Kimmelman started at the paper of record as a music critic and “swiftly morphed into an art critic.” And now after four years as a foreign correspondent, he will fill out his all-purpose critic portfolio as architecture critic. In the same memo, Kimmelman is quoted describing his abiding interest “in how we live, in how buildings actually work, in city planning, public policy, neighborhoods, communities and characters”—intriguingly local interests not on best display in his magazine marquee profiles of Oscar Niemeyer, Shigeru Ban, and most recently Peter Zumthor. Meanwhile in an Architectural Record web story, “Vote: Who will Replace Nicolai Ourossoff?” put up on June 17, the top choice of 12 was Chicago Trib’s Blair Kamin with 79 out of 685 votes. A close 2nd Place went to LA Times’ Christopher Hawthorne with 76; with third (69) and fourth (66) going to Atlantic Monthly’s Witold Rybczynski and AN’s Julie Iovine. In Arc Rec’s vote, Kimmelman attracted the fewest votes, 18, in a slightly eerie confirmation that what architects and what the paper of record think are very different. But that is hardly new news.
The Architect's Newspaper has heard from multiple sources that the New York Times may be close to naming the art critic Michael Kimmelman as the paper's new architecture critic. Outgoing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff resurfaced today with another far flung report, a glowing review of Steven Holl's Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China. Will it be his last? Though Kimmelman is best known as an art critic, he has written on architecture several times in recent years during his posting in Europe, including an excellent piece on David Chipperfield's Neues Museum in Berlin and a profile of Peter Zumthor for the New York Times Magazine.
According to an in-house memo, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff is “moving on” at the end of this month. The sweet but short memo about the critic—who this year submitted his own Pulitzer nomination package—was sent around this morning from culture editor Jonathan Landman. Ouroussoff’s plan, the memo said, is:
to write a book about the architectural and cultural history of the last 100 years, "from Adolf Loos's Vienna and the utopian social experiments of post-revolutionary Russia to postwar Los Angeles and the closing years of the 20th century," as Nicolai describes it.
That's the level of ambition we've come to take for granted in Nicolai. He's a critic whose seven-year run has been distinguished by qualities of unfailing intelligence and integrity and the kind of relentless journalistic drive that propelled a worldwide search for steel-and-concrete manifestations of big, important ideas. His recent series on efforts to use architecture to transform the Middle East was only the latest example. And a grand one it was. On a different scale, I have another favorite, a review that shows off all of Nicolai's discernment, courage and skill in a smaller package. That was his appraisal of our new building. There was a lot he didn't like about the place and he said so - there's the courage part. On the discernment front, there are fascinating observations about the building's interplay with the history and ideals of modern journalism. Skill? Look at the direct and good humored way he handles the problem of reviewing the boss. No doubt there's much more where that came from. There's a ton of Nicolai's trademark ambition in the plan for his book, to be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, which aspires to put a century of architecture into the kind of social and political context he always aimed for within the more limited constraints of newspaper writing. We'll miss him. He'll miss us.The question is will the readers, too? The sporadic critic was known more for chasing down exotic locations and predictably championing all things Californian than analyzing local conditions and his even-handed voice sometimes had us all missing the impassioned harangues of his predecessor, Herbert Muschamp, but at least he was there writing about architecture for the general public, one of the last of a rare and rarer breed.
Love Nicolai Ouroussoff or hate him, Alexandra Lange's takedown, "Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough" on Design Observer, is a highly engaging read. The design community seems to tire of its most visible critic after a few years, and Lange begins her piece by revisiting Michael Sorkin's takedown of then Times critic Paul Goldberger from the mid 1980s. Many of us recall a similar fatigue that set in during Herbert Muschamp's time on the job. Lange, a frequent contributor to AN's "Crit" column, hits Oroussoff with a three pronged attack, with sections subtitled, "He Doesn't Seem To Live in New York City" (a jab at his globetrotting), "He's Slippery" (on vagueness of his writing), and "He Doesn't Care" (an accusation that he's passionless). She is anything but passionless: "When I see a terrible building, or even just one with large, windy, unmanageable public spaces, I get mad," she writes. The popular press could always use more voices with such informed conviction.