It’s “Time For Strategic Architecture”

Bolling Municipal Center – Roxbury, (MA). Image Courtesy of Mecanoo / Sasaki Associates

In an article for the New York Times, Alexandra Lange discusses a number of US projects which are “transforming, but not disrupting,” their respective communities. In this vein, she cites Mecanoo and Sasaki Associates’ new Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building in Roxbury, Boston, as a prime example of a new kind of architecture which “comes from understanding of past civic hopes, redesigning them to meet the future.” Examining some of the key concepts that make for successfully integrated community buildings, such as the creation of spaces that actively forge personal connections, Lange concludes that perhaps it is now “time for strategic architecture.”

The idea that urban planning could build upon citizen action, rather than consisting of imposed boulevards or housing blocks (as with the urban renewal that originally gutted Roxbury) is gaining traction.

Read the article in full here.

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VIDEO: In Boston, Reclaiming the Craft of Brick

The New York Times Asks: Are “Starchitects” Ruining City Skylines?

Hudson Yards, New York by Related Properties. Image Courtesy of Visualhouse

The idea of “star architects” or “starchitects” is, if nothing else, polemic. Frank Gehry has expressed his hatred for being labeled with the term, and in 2013 we received a letter from a reader urging us to ban the phrase as it “undermines serious discourse regarding architecture and urbanism.” Now, the “starchitect” debate has reached the opinion section of the .

Following recent comments by Witold Rybczynski that “starchitects” — often unfamiliar with the cities they are designing for — are designing buildings that don’t fit into their surroundings, the NYT has posed the question: Are superstar architects ruining city skylines? Weighing in on the topic are Allison Arieff, an architecture and design writer for the NYT, Vishaan Chakrabarti, an associate professor at Columbia and a partner at SHoP Architects, Angel Borrego Cubero, a Madrid-based architect, and the director and producer of “The Competition,” a documentary about architectural competitions, and Beverly Willis of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.

Has The Surge Of Visitors to Museums & Galleries Reached A Tipping Point?

Crowds around Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the , Paris. Image © Guia Besana

In an article for the New York Times Rachel Donadio examines Masterworks vs. the Masses. From the Louvre in Paris to London’s British Museum, Florence’s Uffizi to the Vatican Museums, the increasing surge of visitors to these international cultural nodes “has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces.” Balancing everyone’s right to be “nourished” by cultural experiences with protecting and preserving the works of art in question is a very real problem. According to Donadio, ”even when the art is secure, the experience can become irksome.” With some museums seeing annual visitors of up to 6.7 million visitors (British Museum), addressing the issues faced by institutions that are a victim of their own success is becoming more and more pressing. Read the article in full here.

AD Round Up: Smiljan Radic

Copper House 2 / Smiljan Radic. Image © Cristobal Palma / Estudio Palma

Although previously unknown except in his native Chile, architect Smiljan Radic has recently received international attention for his design of this year’s pavilion for ’s Serpentine Galleries. His latest and largest undertaking yet, a winery outside of Santiago, has been featured in this article by the New York Times. And now, his Mestizo Restaurant has been named one of the seven most outstanding 21st century projects in the Americas. If you’re unfamiliar with Radic’s unique works, we’ve compiled a round-up of some of our favorites for you to explore, including his Serpentine PavilionCopper House 2, the Mestizo Restaurant, a bus stop for the town of Krumbach, Austria, and his renovation of the Chilean Museum for Pre-Columbian Art. Enjoy!

“Design Mind” Witold Rybczynski Discusses His Latest Work

Photo by Michael Cooper

While most of the profession looks forward, author Witold Rybczynski is focused on the past. Named 2014′s “Design Mind” by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum earlier this month, Rybczynski writes about historical buildings to give a better understanding of modern architecture. In a recent with the New York Times, Rybczynski talks about his latest book “How Architecture Works: A Humanist’s Toolkit,” the dangers of “celebrity” architecture, and his favorite non-designer chair. Check out the full interview here.

The Architect Critic Is Dead (just not for the reason you think)

Arlington National Cemetery. Courtesy of Flickr user CC Stuck in Customs

As you may have heard,’s Architect Critic, Paul Goldberger, is leaving for Vanity Fair.

If this registers no reaction from you, let me explain why it should. is the crowned prince of criticism. He began his career at The New York Times in 1972, where he worked under Ada Louise Huxtable, our reigning critical queen, and where he won a Pulitzer Prize. In 1997, he switched media empires:

“I thought it was as perfect a life as you could have,” Goldberger told The Observer, “to spend half your career at The Times, half at The New Yorker.”

But, after years of “fighting for adequate space” in an increasingly shrinking column, Goldberger won’t be finishing his writing days as Architect Critic of The New Yorker, but as Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair.

Many will conclude that this is a death knell for architecture; that if architecture cannot justify its own column at The New Yorker, one of the most influential publications in the world, then it must no longer be deemed relevant. This is what happened when Michael Kimmelman, an Arts reporter with no architectural training was appointed to cover architecture at The Times. Critics tweeted: “NYT to Architecture of NYC: Drop Dead” and “Architecture: you’ve been demoted.”

I too will add a cry to the din: “The Architecture Critic is Dead!” But you know what? Good riddance. Because criticism hasn’t died the way you think. It’s just been changed beyond recognition. And frankly, for the better.

Read more on the transformation of architecture & its criticism after the break…