Posts tagged with "Ouroussoff":

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No More Nicolai: Critic Leaving NY Times

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.
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Quick Clicks: Ruination, Context, Issues, Movement, Resolutions

[ Quick Clicks> A hand-selected tour of links from around the world. ] Ruination. Mayor Bloomberg received an angry letter in the mail last week from Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities. According to the NY Times, Hawass is threatening to take back the circa-1500 B.C. monument if the city doesn't properly care for the inscribed hieroglyphics. Heavily eroded, the obelisk was a gifted to the United States in 1869 to celebrate the completion of the Suez Canal. Out of Context. After last week's unveiling of the Broad Art Foundation in Los Angeles, NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff penned a rather scathing critique of of the Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed museum. Among his jabs was a note that the design was out of context to LA's landscape of freeways and sprawl causing Charles Siegel (Preservation Institute Blog) to wonder whether it's appropriate to build to the context of autopian sprawl. Planning Issues. Planetizen has compiled a list of 2010's "Top Planning Issues." Last year was great for renting, bikes, and China but not so hot for city finances, McMansions, or free parking. Movement. The Sydney Morning Herald weighs in on Frank Gehry's recently unveiled UTS building in Sydney, and architect Elizabeth Farrelly raises her concerns. "It's not a choice between the dull box and the exuberant PR-driven sculpture. There is a third option: architecture. We deserve it." (Via ArchNewsNow.) Resolutions. Chicago is going on a road diet. The Chicago Tribune says the city will undertake the traffic experiment on a mile-long stretch of Lawrence Street. The four-lane road will be trimmed down to three lanes with widened sidewalks, landscaped islands, and, of course, bike lanes. While Chicago has already slimmed down nearly a dozen other neighborhood streets in recent years, this example is the first time it's being done on a major arterial road. Construction will begin next year if funding comes through.

Recycle Buildings, not Ideas

Making lists is a time-honored September New York ritual as we all trash the beach reading and play serious catch-up as quickly as possible, reading back-to-back The New York Times’ The New Season feature on September 7 followed by New York magazine’s Fall Preview (Don’t be confused by cover dates, the Times’ Sunday edition came out one day ahead). And now, to New York architecture critic Justin Davidon’s worthy and lengthy survey of new glass buildings across the city "Glass Stampede" (of which we read every word on a long flight recently), there is Nicolai Ouroussoff’s tossed-off and irresponsible “New York City, Tear Down These Walls". Maybe the guy should be applying the principles of adaptive reuse to architecture rather than to his journalism.