New York City’s Hudson Yards has opened its doors to the public, and the reviews are flooding in. Built on Midtown Manhattan’s West Side, the project is New York’s largest development to date and the largest private real estate venture in American history, covering almost 14 acres of land with residential towers, offices, plazas, shopping centers, and restaurants. A host of architecture firms have shaped the development, including BIG, SOM, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Rockwell Group, and many others.
Read on to find out how critics have responded to Hudson Yards so far.
The tale began with a simple idea - a toy that every child, regardless of age and ability, can play, dream, and learn with. But things turned out less than simple. Fights, lawsuits, and even a death all mark the road it took to make a now-ubiquitous toy a reality. The object in question? Lego.
It’s tales such as this one that Alexandra Lange explores in her new book, The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids. Some may scoff at the seemingly trivial subject matter. Surely children, with their boundless imaginations and appetite for play, can discover ways to find fun in anything.
The past 12 months have given us plenty to talk about: 2015 saw the opening of several marquee new museums, and the field took an introspective turn with the “State of the Art of Architecture” at the Chicago Biennial. Now it’s December, and that means it’s time for many critics to look back at the triumphs and failures of the year past and make predictions for the year to come.
In architecture circles, it's a sadly familiar trope: a postwar modernist building by a celebrated architect is slated for demolition, and the only people to come to its defense are not the local community, but the architects and critics who can see past the weathered concrete to the ideals within. But despite this familiarity, it's rare to find a critic with first-hand experience as the user of the building in question, and rarer still for them to have experienced it with the unprejudiced eyes of a child. Such is the case with Alexandra Lange, who went to kindergarten at Josep Lluís Sert's Martin Luther King Jr School in Cambridge. In this article from MAS Context, originally titled "Never-Loved Buildings Rarely Stand a Chance: Josep Lluís Sert in Cambridge" and featuring photographs by Lee Dykxhoorn, Lange recounts her experiences of the school and laments its destruction. The latest issue of MAS Context focuses on the theme of "Legacy" - from the legacy we have inherited from our predecessors to the legacy we are leaving for the future.
It’s a detail too perfect, better suited to a novel. Architecture critic goes to kindergarten at modernist school. Years later, she returns to the city of her birth and discovers the school again, surrounded by construction hoardings, on the brink of destruction. Can she save it? Except that was me, and I was too late.
The sudden and unexpected announcement of the Pritzker Prize yesterday evening sent shockwaves through the architecture world. With the sad death of the Prize's latest laureate Frei Otto on Monday, the Pritzker made the unprecedented decision to announce the winner two weeks early, ensuring that Otto's final, crowning achievement would make its way into the obituaries of this great man.
Of course, despite the sudden nature of the announcement, the many critics on Twitter were on hand to lend their initial thoughts in what was an interesting mix of congratulations, sadness and nostalgia. Read on after the break for all the reactions.
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.
The relationship between immortality and architecture is ancient one. Writing in The New Yorker, Alexandra Lange discusses the past and future of cemetery design in relation to a new exhibition on display in New York. Featuring a selection of 1300 individual mausoleum designs stored in Columbia University's archives, Lange notes how "patrons weren’t picky about originality. In the late nineteenth century, memorial companies might just bring back a shipment of angels from Carrara to be distributed among future clients." These "rural estates in miniature" eventually gave way to more contemporary designs which dabbled in Realism and Cubism. What will the people of today house their remains in? For Lange, "the design we take personal pleasure from everyday is now less likely to be architecture and more likely to be an interface." Read the article in full here.
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."
Although critiquing the exhibit for some "critical flaws" - namely the choice of theme and the lack of explanatory text - Alexandra Lange's review for The New Yorker praises the MoMA's Le Corbusier exhibit, “An Atlas of Modern Landscapes,” as a "must-see" thanks to its varied displays, which show "the terrific span of Le Corbusier's career in time, space, and scale [...] If current architects take anything from the exhibition [...] it should be the power of those big, gestural drawings, where visual and verbal argument vividly come together." Read the rest of Lange's critique at The New Yorker.
We recently received a book we wished we had earlier, Writing About Architecture. Lange’s book pulls from “lessons learned from her courses at New York University and the School of Visual Arts.” ”The book offers works by some of the best architecture critics of the twentieth century including Ada Louise Huxtable, Lewis Mumford, Herbert Muschamp, Michael Sorkin, Charles Moore, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Jane Jacobs to explains some of the most successful methods with which to approach architectural criticism.” The book “could serve as the primary text for a course on criticism for undergraduates or architecture and design majors.” We here at ArchDaily are now using it as a resource. We have a feeling the pages will be worn through pretty quickly.