There are two great thrones in American architectural criticism, that of The New Yorker and The New York Times. It was at these two journalistic institutions that the practice was born, at the hands of its king and queen: Lewis Mumford, that great champion of public works and technics, and Ada Louise Huxtable, still the dean of the design press.
Paul Goldberger has been in the fortunate, indeed unique, position of wearing both crowns. After graduating from Yale, he would find himself at The Times in 1973, a young buck roaming the city he loved, engaged to write just about whatever he thought of the buildings and street life therein. He was, quite literally, heir to Ms. Huxtable, who had not yet been pushed out of the paper for her obstreperous ways, and the two of them shared the job of architecture critic for nearly a decade. Two years after she left in 1982, Mr. Goldberger won the Pulitzer for his efforts.
Thirteen years later, in 1997, he would himself depart one side of Times Square for the other, joining The New Yorker, restoring the Sky Line column begun by Mumford half a century earlier at the behest of Tina Brown. “When I went there, I thought it was as perfect a life as you could have,” Mr. Goldberger told The Observer in an interview Sunday evening, “to spend half your career at The Times, half at The New Yorker.”
But like so many landmarks, from the Parthenon to Penn Station, few endure. Starting today, Mr. Goldberger will board the notorious Condé Nast elevator, but instead of getting off on the 20th floor, he will report to work two floors up, where Graydon Carter has finally poached Mr. Goldberger for Vanity Fair.