Architecture and Urban Design Criticism
This course combines the reading and writing of architecture and urban design criticism. Students read the work of a number of twentieth century architecture and design critics, focusing primarily on those who live(d) and work(ed) in New York City, and who write and wrote for the popular press, organized by theme. One class will be devoted to critiques of the skyscraper, another to parks, another to museums, another to city planning. The earliest pieces we read are Montgomery Schuyler on the then-innovative skyscraper and Frederick Law Olmsted on the then-innovative public park. Simultaneously, the historical scope widens to include work by many contemporary urban critics writing for major publications: Justin Davidson, Christopher Hawthorne, Nicolai Ouroussoff, Ada Louise Huxtable from the 1960s to the present. History and politics enter via debates about historic preservation and addition: Tom Wolfe on the redesign
Typical Field Trips Include:
The High Line: A guided tour with a representative of Friends of the High Line, with time for personal exploration.
One Bryant Park: A tour with a representative of Cook + Fox, the architects of the building.
Museum of the City of New York, Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street: A guided tour (by instructor Alexandra Lange) of an architecture exhibition.
Three 1200-word architecture reviews, one per month. For the first two, the class will tour works of contemporary architecture: (1) the High Line park (James Corner Field Operations, with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Piet Oudolf and L’Observatoire (2) One Bryant Park (Cook + Fox). The third will be on a building, park, interior or urban plan of the student’s choice.
One 10-minute presentation in class on one reading providing additional useful background on the reading in question, suggest ways in which the reading connects to critics and criticism, and offer pointed questions for discussion.
Recommended Reading List:
Davis, Mike. City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. New York: Verso, 1990.
Huxtable, Ada Louise. Kicked a Building Lately? New York: Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 1976.
Huxtable, Ada Louise. Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard? 1988. Reprint, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976.
Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. New York: Random House, 1961.
Johnson, Philip and Mark Wigley. Deconstructivist Architecture: The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1988.
Kamin, Blair. Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001.
Koolhaas, Rem. Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan. 1978. Reprint, New York: Monacelli Press, 1994.
Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City. Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1960.
Moore, Charles. You Have to Pay for the Public Life: Selected Essays of Charles W. Moore. Kevin Keim, ed. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.
Mumford, Lewis. From the Ground Up; Observations on Contemporary Architecture, Housing, Highway Building, and Civic Design. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1956.
Mumford, Lewis. The Highway and the City. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1963.
Mumford, Lewis. Sidewalk Critic: Lewis Mumford’s Writings on New York, ed. Robert Wojtowicz. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998.
Newhouse, Victoria. Towards a New Museum. 1998. Reprint, New York: Monacelli Press, 2006.
Reed, Peter S. Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 2005.
Roth, Leland M., ed. America Builds: Source Documents in American Architecture and Planning. New York: Harper & Row, 1983.
Sorkin, Michael. Exquisite Corpse: Writing on Buildings. New York: Verso, 1991.
Stern, Robert A.M., Thomas Mellins, and David Fishman. New York 1960: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial. New York: Monacelli Press, 1995.
Venturi, Robert. Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture. 1966. Reprint, New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York Graphic Society, 1977.
Whyte, William H. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. New York: Macmillan, 1970. Reprint, New York: Project for Public Spaces, 2001.