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Critique & Commentary

Frank Lloyd Wright, High and Low
New York's Museum of Modern Art offers a fresh look at the influential architect's ideas for skyscrapers and city planning.

Photo © Ezra Stoller/Esto

Bridge Over Troubled Waters
It's time for New York and other cities to connect urban planning to social equity.

Image courtesy Related Companies

The Legacy of Mayor Mike
After 12 years of astonishing change in New York, Bloomberg earns mixed marks.

Photo © Flickr User Noel Y.C.

Observations: Character Development
At RECORD, we frequently find ourselves doing double takes to determine whether an image is a photograph or an uncannily lifelike rendering.

Rumble in the Urban Jungle
A recent book by New Urbanist authors revives an old battle with Landscape Urbanism.

Andres Duany and Emily Talen Respond to Michael Sorkin's Review of Landscape Urbanism and its Discontents: Dissimulating the Sustainable City.

Photo © Iwan Baan

Urban Oases
Projects from mobile markets to full-on farms are greening America's food deserts.

Photo © Will Crocker

Exhibition: L.A.'s Future in the Rearview Mirror
The Getty wrangles a herd of exhibitions on postwar architecture and design.

Photo © Ed Ruscha/J. Paul Getty Museum

Build Nothing and They Will Come
An exhibition at SFMOMA examines the work but not the legacy of Lebbeus Woods.

Image Courtesy Estate of Lebbeus Woods

The Post-Sandy Grid: Unequal Yet Superior?
A two-tier power system could deliver electricity more dependably to everyone.

Illustration © Andrew DeGraff

New York Public Library Threatened
Foster's proposal injects false notes into a historic structure.

Photo © Melanzane 1013

The Unreliable Archive
Inside Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence.

Photo © Refik Anadol/Innocence Foundation

Working All the Angles
Daniel Libeskind adds to his Jewish Museum Berlin.

Photo © BitterBredt

Learning the Hard Way
What are some of the lessons that Sandy teaches us about the way we build?

Expanding Universities
Plans proceed apace at Harvard, Columbia, Penn, Yale, and Princeton.

Image courtesy University of Pennsylvania

Plays Well with Others
Report card: Zaha Hadid's MAXXI turns out to be a good place to see art.

Photo © Iwan Baan

All Quiet on the Eco Front
Why isn't sustainability a hot issue on the campaign trail?

Illustration by Brian Stauffer

Masters of the Neighborhood
Goldman Sachs shapes the spaces around its NYC headquarters.

Photo courtesy Preston Scott Cohen

Taking the Pulse of Architecture
David Chipperfield looks for common ground at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale.

Photo © Michael Moran

Welcome to Corporate Kindergarten
Playful design is taking over the office, but are we really having that much fun?

Photo © Lawrence Anderson

There Goes the Neighborhood
The Stedelijk's jarring addition strikes discord in Amsterdam's cultural enclave.

Photo © John Lewis Marshall

Perspective Commentary
Websites are a vital marketing tool. Unless you're a superstar design firm, steer clear of archispeak and tricky graphics. Users want a site that is clean and simple.

Material Man
Thomas Heatherwick’s unconventional approach flouts design orthodoxy.

Photo courtesy Heatherwick Studio

All in the Family: Architectural DNA
Where there’s an architect, there are probably a few more—from the same gene pool.

Photo courtesy Taal Safdie

RECORD Book Reviews

Book Reviews
RECORD weighs in on new architecture titles from surveys and monographs to history and theory texts.

Pictured: New Museums in China. By Clare Jacobson. Princeton Architectural Press, November 2013, 256 pages, $50.

Commentary

VOTE: Who Should Succeed Paul Goldberger as Resident Architecture Critic at The New Yorker?
The news that Paul Goldberger is leaving his position as architecture critic at The New Yorker to become a contributing editor at Vanity Fair has us all speculating about who—if anyone—will replace him. Who do you think should succeed him as architecture critic at the weekly?

Photo © Architectural Record

Perspective Drawing
Is the proliferation of sophisticated tools for modeling, parametric design, and digital fabrication making the practice of sketching by hand obsolete?

Image © Soo-Hyun Kim, Yale Universityo

Preservation Nation
Is landmarking a shield or a sword in the fight against overdevelopment?

Photo: © Jorge Salcedo

The Pitfalls of “Scope-creep”
When a small project grows, you may face compensatory and consequential damages.

Design as Key to Competition
In a global market, efficiency and speed are not enough.

The Graduates Gripe
Getting an architecture degree is expensive. Is it worth it in a recession?

Under the California Sun, Architecture Blossomed
Five Los Angeles cultural institutions shed new light on mid-20th-century design efforts.

Photo © Lane Barden

Smoke and Mirrors
Critic Michael Sorkin weighs in on development at the World Trade Center site.

 

Commentary: Sustainability Scrutinized
At two recent architectural events — one academic, the other professional — sustainability met with both skepticism and criticism in ways I hadn’t anticipated. It suggests we have reached a point where sustainable architecture needs to be addressed more rigorously.

Photography: © Prakash Patel

Amanda Burden

In the Zone: City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden
Under Mayor bloomberg, New York city planners launched an aggressive initiative to compete in the global economy.

Photo © NYC Department of City Planning

 

VOTE: Who Will Replace Nicolai Ouroussoff?
Since The New York Times announced that its architecture critic of seven years would be leaving, everyone has an opinion about who should replace him. The list below reflects some of our editors’ ideas. Who do you think is the best critic for the job?

Photo via Wikipedia

Commentary: Reassessing the Rise and Fall of Postmodern Architecture
It is now nearly a quarter of a century since Postmodern architecture — which proposed to make historical references respectable once again — was declared officially dead by none other than its most capricious establishment advocate, Philip Johnson.

Photography: © Rollin La France

Commentary: Criticism Needs Time, as a Second Look at Thom Mayne’s San Francisco Federal Building Shows
During any given week, I’m told, 100 or more design buffs take self-guided tours of the San Francisco Federal Building (SFFB) by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Thom Mayne.

Photo © Roland Halbe

Make it Right Update
The ambitious operation initiated by Brad Pitt is going on, with more houses in construction.  slide show

Photo © courtesy Make it Right

Salone del Mobile

Salone del Mobile
As Milan's premiere furniture fair turns 50, we look at how it became an annual design mecca.

Image courtesy Cosmit

Commentary: Is the architect's monograph our latest endangered species?

Commentary: Œuvre Kaput
Is the architect's monograph our latest endangered species?

 

Film: The Making of Citizen Architect

Film: The Making of Citizen Architect
Sam Wainwright Douglas, the director of a film about Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio, explains his intentions.

Photo © Donna Paul

Commentary: Glasgow Neighbors - Mackintosh versus Steven Holl

Commentary: Glasgow Neighbors - Mackintosh versus Steven Holl
A critic's thoughts on the new extension being planned for Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s famed Glasgow School of Art.

Image courtesy Steven Holl Architects

Backstory: Soane's Enclave: A Progress Report

Backstory: Soane's Enclave - A Progress Report
Sir John Soane’s House Museum in London is in the midst of a much-needed expansion, renovation, and restoration.

Photo courtesy Sir John Soane’s Museum

Film: Ready for Your Close-Up?

Film: Ready for Your Close-Up?
A film festival highlights the proliferation of design documentaries.

Review: A Vision by Peter Greenaway at the Park Avenue Armory

Review: Kitsch in the Age of Digital Reproduction
A Vision by Peter Greenaway at the Park Avenue Armory

Photo © James Ewing, courtesy Park Avenue Armory

Commentary: One-Hit Wonders

Commentary: One-Hit Wonders
If a client asks you to imitate yourself, is that the sincerest form of flattery?

illustration © Norman Hathaway

The Name Game

The Name Game
The biggest quandary facing some architects is the wording on the door.

 

James Stirling Exhibition

James Stirling Exhibition
Alexander Gorlin, FAIA, weighs in on a new exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art.

Photo © Richard Capsole

Sperone Westwater gallery

There Goes the Neighborhood
An influx of art spaces transforms Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Photo © Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art, rendering

Hot in Cleveland
Ohio cities have had an astonishing track record in the last decade for giving cutting-edge foreign architects their first shot at building on American soil. Now add Cleveland to the list.

Image courtesy Foreign Office Architects

Recycling
Hans Hollein tried something new by doing something old.

Image courtesy Hans Hollein

Housing Stack

Housing Stack
Robert Venturi’s iconic 1964 house for his mother in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, a departure from the “less is more” ideal of his architectural peers at the time, offered a strong but subtle statement. In his own words, its gabled form created “an almost symbolic image of a house.”

Photo © Duccio Malagamba

Critique

Fame: A Fickle Mistress
For architects on the edge, early success can be a sword that cuts both ways.

Photo © Norman Mcgrath/Esto

Critique

Don’t roll your eyes: Architects can learn a lot by playing golf
Golf? Yes, golf. Critic Robert Campbell, FAIA, argues that architects can learn a lot by playing the game.

Photo © Peter Vanderwarker

Critique

Serving up a heady cocktail of gravitas and glamour
Martin Filler finds an object lesson in the Four Seasons as the New York restaurant that married design with cuisine celebrates its 50th year.

Photo © Ezra Stoller/Esto

Critique

Connect the dots: Dubai, labor, urbanism, sustainability, and the education of architects
Michael Sorkin returns from a trip to Dubai with some ideas on how to change the education of architects.

Photo © Robert Ivy

Critique

One good fit and one bad in New York City
Robert Campbell visits the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition at the Guggenheim and discovers it doesn’t work with the building’s architecture. Read two additional takes on the show in our [Featured Events] column and in this month’s Editorial.

Photo © David Heald/The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation

Critique

After 50 years, Lincoln Center still offers plenty to criticize
Critic Martin Filler looks back on 50 years of Lincoln Center and finds plenty to complain about in terms of its urban plan and architecture.

Photo © Arnold Newman/Getty Images.

Critique

Temporary openings in the city fabric tempt a critic to imagine
Openings in New York’s urban fabric lead critic Michael Sorkin to imagine a new approach to public space.

Photo © Aleksandr Bierig

Critique

Making monuments right before an era comes to a close
Critic Robert Campbell explains some of his laws of architecture and what the Alhambra tells us about our current moment.

Photo © Bettmann/Corbis

Critique

How Medellín Got Its Groove Back
A city once known as Murder Capital of the World has been looking to architecture to help it change its reputation and its fate. Jimena Martignoni takes us to Medellín, Colombia. slideshow

Photo © Sergio Gomez

Critique

Rolling out the unwelcome mat for visitor centers
Critic Martin Filler looks at the current rash of visitor centers and explains why he hates them all.

Photo © Paul Warchol

Critique

A Stimulus for Good Design
Special Commentary: North America design director for RMJM, New York, Peter Schubert, AIA, argues that federal stimulus dollars should be spent on creative, sustainable buildings that will stand the test of time.

Image courtesy Peter Schubert

Critique

Some suggestions on how to spend $800 billion
Michael Sorkin writes an open letter to President Obama outlining some of the things he feels should be part of the new administration’s agenda.

Photo © Michael Goodman

Critique

Bringing Good Design to Affordable Housing
John King discusses Bay Area architects who see their affordable housing work as part of a long tradition of progressive culture and urbanism.

Photo © Brian Rose

Critique

Some free advice to President-elect Obama
Critic Robert Campbell offers some free advice to the new administration. His recommendations for President-elect Obama cover everything from a more meaningful federal role for architects to gasoline taxes.

Photo © Nic Lehoux

Critique

Why do architects talk so much?
Critic Martin Filler discusses the role that talking about work plays in the architecture world, as well as noteworthy published collections of interviews and his experience interviewing celebrated designers—from British reactionary Quinlan Terry to Thom Mayne (pictured) to Philip Johnson.

Photo © Mark Hanauer/Corbis

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective

Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective
RECORD editor Josephine Minutillo visits a new semipermanent exhibition at MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Photo © Kevin Kennefick

Critique

Bucky Lives!
Michael Sorkin examines the legacy of Buckminster Fuller.

Photo courtesy the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller

Critique

11th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale
RECORD editor, Beth Broome, explores the intangible at the 2008 Venice Biennale.

Photo © Antje Quiram

Critique

Sending the Wrong Message to the Rest of the World
Commentary: Robert Campbell takes a hard look at Moore Ruble Yudell’s new US embassy in Berlin and the way security concerns affected its design.

Photo © Werner Huthmacher

Critique

Rediscovering a Prefab Pioneer
Jeffrey Head examines the forgotten work of Konrad Wachsmann. The California designer created a largely forgotten system of prefabricated housing in the late 1940s.

Photo © Allen Penwick

Critique

When All Systems Seemed Go for Spaceship Earth
Martin Filler looks at a cluster of current exhibitions on mid-century modernists and figures out what it says about the vicissitudes of fame and the concerns of today’s architects.

Photo © Balthazar Korab

Critique

Abstract Incarnations of Place: Portraits by Amy Archer
Suzanne Stephens examines the work of photographer Amy Archer. The New-York artist creates large-scale montages of details drawn from landscapes and architecture.

Photo © Amy Archer

Critique

A Failure to Communicate Leads to Other Failures
Who’s to blame when a building designed by a famous architect has exterior walls that are rotting? Robert Campbell does some sleuthing to find out.

Photo © Paul Warchol

Critique

Plenty of Glitter, But Few Masterpieces in Zaragoza
David Cohn visits the 2008 Zaragoza Expo in northern Spain. Assessing the spectacle, he finds two projects by Spanish architects that stand out above an otherwise lackluster field of architecture.

Photo courtesy Zaragoza Expo 2008

Learning from the Hutong of Beijing and the Lilong of Shanghai
As China prepares for its Olympic coming-out party, Michael Sorkin examines historic neighborhoods in Beijing and Shanghai. He also charts the influence of 20th-century styles and contemporary projects on the country’s cityscapes.

Photo © Clifford Pearson

New museums: The good, the bad, and the horribly misguided
Last year marked both the 10th anniversary of Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the 30th of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers’s Georges Pompidou Center—the two most influential cultural buildings of our time. The worldwide construction boom spurred by those watershed schemes continued unabated during 2007, which witnessed the completion of still more museums and additions.

Photo © Roland Halbe

Strolling through Tokyo’s hothouse of architectural wonders
The cherry blossoms were at their peak on a Thursday in late March when I went for a stroll in Ueno Park in Tokyo. A nimbus of white glowing pink with dramatic dark branches etched through it floated above the crowds strolling, photographing, and picnicking on blue tarps spread beneath the trees. What could be more Japanese than such civic reverence for this short-lived phenomenon in all its tender aesthetic frailty?

Photo © Christian Richters

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Shedding new light on a pair of maligned projects
A few random field notes on Renzo Piano’s new Broad Contemporary Art Museum building at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Machado and Silvetti's Getty Villa.

Photo © 2008 Museum Associates/LACMA

Beyond Blubberland: In the land of the super plenty
The noun want used to mean need. Want was life or death stuff, as in “the baby wants feeding.” Now, want has flipped 180 degrees to imply an arbitrary and even whimsical desire, unfettered by need, significance, or logic.

Photo © Alex S. Maclean

Debunking a myth about museums that pay for themselves
It may not have been cause and effect, but the 10th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao late last year coincided with the opening of several new museums that seem intent on being everything Frank Gehry’s Basque bombshell is not.

Photo © David S. Allee

American Architecture Today
Six accomplished critics weigh in on the state of American architecture today. Read comments by Paul Goldberger of The New Yorker, Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times, Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune, among others.

Image courtesy Gehry Partners

Making (too) big plans for Manhattan’s West Side
New York’s powerful deputy mayor for economic development, Dan Doctoroff, recently resigned, something that had been rumored for a time. Doctoroff, who came to the city from a master-of-the-universe career as a private equity dealer, has left—with scarcely a murmur of disapproval—to become head of Bloomberg L.P., the Mayor’s very own multibillion-dollar financial reporting company.

Image courtesy Steven Holl

Why Foster’s Hearst Tower is no gherkin
Now that it has been there for a year and I’ve had my chance to learn to love it, maybe it’s a good time to say why I dislike the Hearst Tower in Manhattan so much.

Photo © Chuck Choi

Legal loophole trumps good zoning in SoHo
The form of the city rises from the convergence of legislation, imagination, ambition, and resistance.

Rendering © Courtesy Trump SoHo

Experiencing architecture with seven senses, not one
Is architecture turning into a purely visual sport? Will it be just like video games, except that it won’t have all those crashing noises?

Photo © Jeff Goldberg/ESTO

Artists tackle architecture and find new ways of looking at it
In the catalog for Antony Gormley’s recent exhibition, Blind Light, at the Hayward Gallery in London, the curator Jacky Klein cites Brancusi’s dictum that “architecture is inhabited sculpture.”

Photo © Michele Lamanna/Courtesy the artist and Max Protetch Gallery

Big Brother hitches a ride with a congestion-pricing scheme
As part of his recently released plan for New York by the year 2030, entitled PLANYC: A Greener, Greater New York, Mayor Michael Blooomberg is actively promoting a scheme for congestion pricing in the busiest parts of Manhattan.

Photo © Leon Neal/AFP/Getty images

Going the extra mile to make mass transit more personal
For too long, too much of the discussion about urban mobility and its relationship to sustainability has been locked into an increasingly sterile debate between proponents of public transit and advocates of the automobile. Both sides ignore some inconvenient truths.

Image © Franco Vairani/MIT Smart Cities Project

Calling a truce in the style wars over government buildings
"The development of an official style must be avoided. Design must flow from the architectural profession to the Government, and not vice versa.”

The words are those of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. They’re part of his famous Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture (1962), which helped inspire a revolution in government architecture.

Photo © Scott Frances/Esto

Can an indigenous culture survive in a jungle petropolis?
Pink Floyd was playing on the loudspeaker of the ferry transporting us over the Rio Napo into the 2,700-square-mile Yasuni National Park in the Amazon basin in Ecuador’s El Oriente region.

Photo © John Hill

Three years later: Does Gehry’s Stata Center really work?
When Frank Gehry’s Stata Center at MIT opened three years ago, it got a lot of press, especially for its novel appearance.

Photo © Roland Halbe

Does size matter when it comes to design offices and quality?
Once upon a time, Le Corbusier sat in his single-room office alone, pencil in hand, solemnly pondering an architectural problem, “face to face with himself, the wrestling of Jacob and the Angel within the human soul,” as he explained in volume eight of Oeuvres Complètes.

Drawing © Courtesy Fondation Le Corbusier

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