Koolhaas' journalism work won him fame in architecture before he completed a single building. The switch from storyteller to architect was more a change in the script than a professional shift. He pointed out that "[architecture] is a form of scriptwriting that implicitly describes human and spatial relationships." Restating the role of architecture in defining daily life beyond buildings and cities' construction, architecture is also a written and spoken tool capable of explaining daily worldwide events, giving voices to unspoken projects, and actively shaping the future of the architect's role.
Ada Louise Huxtable: The Latest Architecture and News
Kazuyo Sejima and Phyllis Lambert Are the Recipients of the 2023 Jane Drew and Ada Louise Huxtable Prizes Celebrating Women in Architecture
SANAA co-founder Kazuyo Sejima and influential Canadian architect Phyllis Lambert have been awarded the Jane Drew and Ada Louise Huxtable prizes, respectively, as a recognition of their work and commitment to design excellence and for raising the profile of women in architecture. The Jane Drew Prize for Architecture commends Kazuyo Sejima for her achievements as an architect, while the Ada Louise Huxtable Prize recognizes Phyllis Lamber’s contribution to the wider architectural industry. The two awards are presented by UK-based publications Architects’ Journal and The Architectural Review.
Architecture criticism and journalism are often expected to announce “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in architecture and the built environment. Its purposes go however further than that. As Michael Sorkin put it, “seeing beyond the glittering novelty of form, it is criticism’s role to assess and promote the positive effects architecture can bring to society and the wider world”. In other words, by telling us what they are seeing, critics are also showing us where to look in order to identify and address the issues plaguing our built environment.
The field of architecture journalism has been led by female writers even in times when the pursuit of a career in architecture was discouraged and inaccessible for women. Ada Louise Huxtable established the profession of architecture journalism by holding the first full-time position of architecture critic at a general-interest American newspaper. In 1970, she also received the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Esther McCoy started her career as a draughtswoman at an architecture office, yet, because of her gender, she was discouraged from training as a professional architect despite her ambitions to study the field. Through her writings, she managed to bring attention to the overlooked architectural scene of the American West Coast and advocate for the values of regional Modernism.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
What, exactly, is the point of architecture criticism? The word “criticism” is derived from the Greek term krinein, meaning to separate, to sift, to make distinctions, to discern, to examine, or to judge. According to Wayne Attoe, an architect and educator who writes about architecture criticism in his book Architecture and Critical Imagination (now sadly out of print), this does not necessarily mean to disapprove of, or to find fault with. It can be favorable or unfavorable; it can praise or condemn.
Artist Rachel Whiteread has won the 2017 Ada Louise Huxtable Prize, which recognizes individuals working in the wider architectural industry who have made a significant contribution to architecture and the built environment. Whiteread was selected by respondents to the Architectural Review’s Women In Architecture: Working in Architecture survey.
Some of Whiteread’s notable work includes her 1993 Turner Prize-winning House, her collaboration with architects like Caruso St John on the UK Holocaust Memorial International Design Competition, and her participation on the RIBA Stirling Prize 2016 jury.
Today, the MacArthur Foundation announced the 23 recipients of their 2016 MacArthur Fellowship Grants, which are awarded annually “to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.” Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 for the recipients to use for individual pursuits, paid out in equal quarterly installments over a five year period. Fellows are selected based on 3 criteria: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.
This year’s fellows include artists, playwrights, geobiologists, poets, jewelrymakers, novelists and historians, but, for the fifth straight year, no architects. In the program’s 36 year history, just 6 recipients have come from architecture-related fields.
Architecture critic Alexandra Lange recently stumbled upon “On Architecture” - an Audible.com collection of over 16 hours of Ada Louise Huxtable’s best writings from the New York Times, New York Review of Books, the Wall Street Journal and more. Displeased with the narration, Lange has taken it upon herself to read Huxtable’s 1971 New York Times critique “A Look at the Kennedy Center” in honor of its “many famous witticisms." Give it a listen, here.
ArchDaily is continuing our partnership with The Architectural Review, bringing you short introductions to the themes of the magazine's monthly editions. In this post, we take you back to AR's June 2014 issue, which examines the state of architectural criticism in our age of online media and ever-present PR. Here, AR Editor Catherine Slessor argues that "more than ever, architecture is in need of provocative, engaging and entertaining critics."
Ambrose Bierce, the great 19th-century satirist and author of the The Devil’s Dictionary, once defined a critic as ‘a person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him’. Critics occupy a curiously parasitical position in the modern cultural milieu, and an architecture critic perhaps especially so. But in an age when architects can easily find obliging PR minions to dispense their gospel and biddable publishers to churn out infinite, anodyne oeuvres complètes, who still needs critics and criticism?
“Even though I wished for her attention, I was scared of it.”
Ada Louise Huxtable was a renowned architecture critic who started at The New York Times in 1963. Her probing articles championed the preservation of buildings regarded as examples of historic design still imperative to the life of the city. Her arguments were leveraged by research and an in-depth understanding of architecture as an ever-relevant art form ("the art we cannot afford to ignore"). Alexandra Lange of The Nation points to the connection between Ada Louise Huxtable's writing and its influence on the culture of preservation that eventually resulted in the establishment of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965.
More after the break.
"Take Five: A Titan of Architectrual Criticism has Died, but Architects are Best Prepared to Carry on the Conversation" was originally published in AIArchitect.
In a stirring call-to-action written for AIArchitect, Robert Ivy, FAIA and AIA EVP/Chief Executive Officer, reflects on the state of architecture criticism today. He recognizes that the late, great Ada Louise Huxtable was unquestionably the best critic of our time. However, the time of the singular architectural voice has passed; in the 21st century, and with the rise of the Internet, we have all become architectural critics - architects, informed citizens, and, often most vociferously, not so informed citizens. In this world of critical noise, Ivy proposes that the architect must step up to take on the role of architecture critic... and advocate.
Read Ivy's stirring article in full, after the break...
Ada Louise Huxtable (1921-2013), known as “the dean of American architectural criticism”, has passed away at the age of 91 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Huxtable began her legendary career when she was appointed as The New York Times’ first architecture critic in 1963. Her sharp mind and straightforward critiques paved the way for contemporary architectural journalism and called for public attention to the significance of architecture.