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Martin Filler: The Latest Architecture and News

The Restoration of Chartres Cathedral is a "Scandalous Desecration"

Throughout its eight-century-long history, Chartres Cathedral has been consistently cited as one of the world's greatest religious spaces, charming countless architects thanks to its dramatic interior combining brooding stone vaults and delicate stained glass windows. But this legacy is severely threatened, argues Martin Filler for the New York Review of Books, by a "foolhardy" restoration in its zeal for recapturing the past "makes authentic artifacts look fake."

© Flickr CC User Lawrence OP The stark difference between the original and the restored sections. Image © Flickr CC User Sarah Karlson © Flickr CC User Connie Ma A gilded boss at the top of a vault. Image © Flickr CC User Klaus Wagensonner + 6

Martin Filler Admits Mistake in his Critique on Zaha Hadid

Last week Zaha Hadid filed a libel lawsuit against critic Martin Filler, after Filler’s review of Rowan Moore’s book “Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture" for the New York Review of Books included a scathing section on Hadid. In the article Filler said she had shown “no concern” for the death of construction workers in Qatar, where she designed a stadium for the 2022 World Cup. Now, Filler has admitted to a significant error in the article he wrote, The New York Times has reported. In an amendment to his article Filler acknowledges that the quotes he used from Hadid were taken out of context and had “nothing to do” with the Qatar stadium she designed. Read Filler’s full statement in the New York Times article, here.

I Wept But About What I Cannot Say: Martin Filler's Moving Tribute to Michael Arad's 9/11 Memorial

North Pool looking Southeast. Image © Joe Woolhead
North Pool looking Southeast. Image © Joe Woolhead

Beginning with Charles McKim, William Mead, and Stamford White and concluding with Michael Arad, Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II examines the people behind the work at the forefront of 20th and early 21st century architecture. Critic Martin Filler masterfully integrates each person’s unique biography and distinctive character into the architectural discussion. Here is his revealing profile of Michael Arad, the young architect whose design for the National September 11 Memorial at Ground Zero brought him into the national spotlight. It was originally published on Metropolis Mag's Point of View Blog.

I wept but about what precisely I cannot say. When I first visited Michael Arad’s newly completed National September 11 Memorial of 2003–2011 at Ground Zero, which was dedicated on the tenth anniversary of the disaster—the ubiquitous maudlin press coverage of which I had done everything possible to ignore—it impressed me at once as a sobering, disturbing, heartbreaking, and overwhelming masterpiece. Arad’s inexorably powerful, enigmatically abstract pair of abyss-like pools, which demarcate the foundations of the lost Twin Towers, came as an immense surprise to those of us who doubted that the chaotic and desultory reconstruction of the World Trade Center site could yield anything of lasting value.

Yet against all odds and despite tremendous opposition from all quarters, the design by the Israeli-American Arad—an obscure thirty-four-year-old architect working for a New York City municipal agency when his starkly Minimalist proposal, Reflecting Absence, was chosen as the winner from among the 5,201 entries to the Ground Zero competition—became the most powerful example of commemorative architecture since Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial of 1981–1982 in Washington, D.C.