Posts tagged with "Everybody's a Critic":

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Ebert Gives Modernism Two Thumbs Down

Everyone may be a critic, but none moreso than Roger Ebert. While film has long been the Chicagoan's preferred medium, he has increasingly cast his eyes and pen elsewhere on his Sun-Times blog (begun after a bout of thyroid cancer). Yesterday, he fixed his attention—and mostly scorn—on modern architecture. It's a highly opinionated piece, one in which Ebert openly admits his increasingly "reactionary" preferences:
It was not always so. My first girlfriend when I moved to Chicago was Tal Gilat, an architect from Israel. She was an admirer of Mies. Together we explored his campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. She showed me his four adjacent apartment buildings on Lake Shore Drive and said they looked as new today as when they were built. It is now 40 years later, and they still look that new. Then I was impressed. Now I think of it as the problem. They will never grow old. They will never speak of history. No naive eye will look at them and think they represent the past. They seem helplessly captive of the present.
Ebert goes on to bemoan the loss of character in Chicago and beyond, in buildings new and old. "Remember a deli, with its neon signs, its daily prices, its sausages and cheeses and displays of pop and wine in the window. Now it has been defaced and replaced by this branch of the Bank of America, which was not even conceived for this site, but offers as little glass and metal as it possibly can, devoid of any ornamentation at all." Yet this seems much more like a problem with capitalism than architecture, not to mention that the latter has always been a product of the former, a reality of both the most grandiose and spare buildings. There's long passages applauding Sullivan—and defaming Mies for denuding him, as Ebert sees it. With all this praise for the past, is there anything he does like? Never having watched much Ebert ourselves, we always got the sense he was rather conventional. What does he think about Jean Gang's Aqua or the compelling work of Krueck+Sexton? Surely it can't all be bad, much as Ebert seems to be remembering the past a little too fondly, as there has been the good and the bad throughout history, architectural and otherwise. Over at the LA Times there's a poll asking readers what they think of Ebert's arguments. About a little more than a third say he's being too simplistic, while the same amount find him to be right on the money. Whatever said you take (and we think we can guess what that is) it's still a thoughtful, if disagreeable piece, and well worth reading.
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James Gardner Goes Gaga for Central Park Kiosk

As editors ourselves, we know writers don't usually write the headlines. Still, we were struck by one atop a recent review by our friend and sometimes contributor James Gardner in The Real Deal, which declared, "Central Park's Le Pain Quotidien ranks as one of the best things about New York City." You don't say. And yet, for all the hyperbole, the guy's got a point:
Properly understood, the opening of Le Pain Quotidien, deep in the heart of Central Park, represents one of the most momentous changes to the park in half a century. This highly respected Belgian purveyor of fine breads, salads and soups now has 21 stores in the city, but none of them is as delightful as its newest, on the northern edge of Sheep Meadow. [...] Once it had been far otherwise. For the structure you see today is really a replacement for a lovely Moorish pavilion designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in the 1860s. Known as the Mineral Springs Pavilion, it offered up a variety of salubrious waters to the thirsty citizenry. But with his habitual philistinism, Robert Moses, the once all-powerful parks commissioner, demolished Mould's vision and in its place he erected the unprepossessing structure you see today. For more than half a century it presented itself to the world as nothing more than a narrow concession area looking east, its vague interior filled with storage space for the park department's sundry fences and gardening paraphernalia. The revelation of the new Pain Quotidien starts with the fact that it fully occupies and opens to the public the interior spaces of the pavilion, which turn out to be far vaster than one ever imagined. Like most of this brand's interiors throughout the city, and indeed the world, the present space is adorned with pale woods in the French provincial style, a fully stocked bakery and a long, communal table, as well as individual tables.
For it's true, nothing improves the taste of a fresh tartine, or most things in life, like being at the park.