“Whatever Philip Johnson’s legacy turns out to be, it will not rest on his buildings,” Ada Louise Huxtable wrote in her obituary of “the king’s architect” in The Wall Street Journal eight years ago. Mr. Johnson had once told Ms. Huxtable of his desire to work for royalty. Not finding any, Ms. Huxtable concluded, he crowned himself king and kingmaker. In his way, he reshaped the world, and so too has she.
Ms. Huxtable, who died in Manhattan on Monday at the age of 91, may not have set out to be the people’s writer, but that is what she became. She just wanted to share her ideas about the city where she was born, what was wrong with it and how it ought to be made right, but probably never would be.
“She was extraordinarily proper and quiet and dignified,” said Paul Goldberger, her protégé and successor as the Times’s architecture critic, a job she created and held for two decades, winning the first Pulitzer for criticism along the way. “She loved to get together and talk, and she was not above a certain amount of gossip, but at the end of the day, what you remember her for was her writing, which is how she wanted it to be. She was not a sort of quirky, unusual character about whom you would tell stories until the end of time. She wanted to be remembered by her work, and she is.”
Hurricane Sandy has been demonstrating her considerable power all afternoon, but perhaps no show of strength was more impressive than her ability to roust the hot dog vendor who has been parked outside the Beresford for a number of months.
The vendor, who has withstood numerous legal challenges from the Beresford’s lawyer, finally caved as the hurricane battered his corner across from Central Park, at least according to a tweet from Beresford resident and architecture critic Paul Goldberger:
Michael Kimmelman is not a very good architecture critic, at least that is what some of his critics would have you believe. As invigorating as his first few columns championing urbanism and public design were, the whole thrust has devolved into a sort of schtick, whereby every article is about the greatness of cities, and barely about architecture.
Michael Kimmelman knows this.
The Neverending Story
The World Trade Center has come unbound. A little or quite a lot depending on whom you believe.
The 16-acre site had a good year last year. The still overly symbolic 1 World Trade Center passed the halfway mark of its eventual height, Condé Nast closed on its huge lease there and the 9/11 Memorial opened on the 10th anniversary of the attacks, as on time as it was ever going to be. “Let us remember not only the day that time stood still—but the decade we have spent recovering, rebuilding and renewing,” Mayor Bloomberg said during a Sept. 6 speech. The passage of time had been good, even necessary.
But no longer. The gloom has begun to return.
Last week, The Observer learned with the help of Rutgers economics professor Jason Barr that the reason for the development of Midtown apart from Lower Manhattan, and the skyscrapers both possess, had nothing to do with bedrock beneath these towers, as had long been believed. Call it the uncanny valley, the soaring mountain range that makes the New York City skyline the best in the world.
Having determined what was not the cause of this unique skyline, The Observer thought we had figured out what was, that being the flight of the wealthy north. But it turns out one very influential urban investigator begged to differ: New Yorker architecture critic and Pullitzer Prize winner Paul Goldberger.
Our colleague Jonathan Liu has a nice appraisal in this week’s culture pages of what it means to be the architecture critic at The Times and whether Michael Kimmelman is up to the task. Mr. Kimmelman replaces the oft-maligned Nicolai Ourousoff, who stepped down last month, and over here at the real estate desk we have been hearing much the same thing: It is borderline offensive that The Times promoted an arts writer to cover architecture, but let’s hold out hope because he can’t be much worse than his predecessor.
Paul Goldberger, The New Yorker‘s architecture critic, spoke to The Big Think about the rebuilding of Ground Zero. He is not a fan. He calls the office building that’s going up now “sort of OK,” and the rest of the planned structures “better than the average piece of junk on Third Avenue.” Read More
One Man's Opinion
Paige Rense is done! And for the first time since 1975, there will be a new editor at Architectural Digest.
Condé Nast spokeswoman Maurie Perl said the search is only just beginning now. But who will Si Newhouse and Tom Wallace speak to about the job?
The magazine has been struggling, and they need Read More
Yesterday afternoon the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a massive, three-ring circus of a memorial for the artist Jeanne-Claude, who died in November at the age of 74. Thousands of people turned up despite the rain, with top closies in the Met’s auditorium, second-order closies watching a live feed in the Temple of Dendur, and Read More
This weekend, Paul Goldberger was on with Bob Garfield on NPR talking about a story he wrote in The New Yorker last year on the design of newsrooms. In the article, Goldberger talked about the cold feel to the Times newsroom, but he elaborated on that with Garfield. He said:
The Read More