When applying “major surgery” to a beloved, 20th century “masterpiece”, you’re going to face some harsh criticism. Such is the case for Norman Foster, as the legendary British architect has been receiving intense backlash from New York’s toughest critics for his proposed renovation to the New York Public Library. First, the late Ada Louise Huxtable exclaimed, “You don’t “update” a masterpiece.” Now, the New York Time’s architecture critic Michael Kimmelman claims the design is “not worthy” of Foster and believes the rising budget to be suspect.
More on Kimmelman’s critique and Foster’s response after the break…
The preservation battle continues over the fate of Bertrand Goldberg’s 1970’s Prentice Woman’s Hospital. As we reported in July, an ever-growing community of prominent architects – such as Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien – have joined preservationists in the fight to save the late modernist structure that is at risk of being replaced by a new biomedical research facility for Northwestern University.
The seven-story concrete cloverleaf, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core and floating atop a glass and steel box, is an engineering feat ahead of it’s time as well as an important icon within the Chicago skyline. As architecture critic Michael Kimmelman argues, “Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and, increasingly, careful custody. Prentice is a good example.” However, it is not suited for 21st-century research labs and many Chicagoans hate it. Currently, Northwestern University is leading the debate by arguing that a new building would “bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives”.
Could there be a compromise? Solutions are rarely black-and-white. Kimmelman has consulted Chicago architect Jeanne Gang to envision a proposal that would satisfy both opposing sides. Continue reading to learn more.
Yesterday, Michael Kimmelman, the architecture critic for The New York Times, unleashed his anticipated take on this year’s Biennale. Usually, we find ourselves almost perfectly aligned with Kimmelman’s socially-oriented perspective (in fact, we lauded his approach in “The Architect Critic is Dead“); this time, however, we found ourselves almost entirely at his opposite.
In our Editorial, “The Most Political Biennale Yet,” we contend that “Common Ground” represented a stepping stone in the Biennale’s evolution: it revealed an unprecedented engagement with reality and reflected, for the first time in any substantial way, architecture’s movement away from “starchitecture” and towards urbanist solutions. Was it perfect? No. But it was engaged.
However, Kimmelman’s take suggests that all that progress simply wasn’t enough. In fact, the exhibits we cite as evidence of the Biennale’s progress, Kimmelman cites as exceptions in a festival still overly obsessed with architecture’s big names.
What do you think? Was this Biennale very political, or not political enough? Was Kimmelman too harsh? Were we too forgiving? Or are we both off-base? Read on for a few select quotes from our Op-Eds, and give us your opinion in the comments below.