Architecture

Go Figure

As a genre of visual communication, the architectural rendering is underscrutinized. When we see one — in a business meeting, on a real estate sign, accompanying an article about a public-works project — we understandably focus on the merits of what’s depicted, not the depiction. Recently, however, I happened to spend a lot of time [...]

Ricky’s Perennial Pop-Up

written for D-Crit’s guest-edited ‘Culture’ issue of the New Museum’s New City Reader, part of “The Last Newspaper” exhibit, 6 October 2010 – 9 January 2011

Architecture of Ambition

Over the last decade, I’ve had both a personal and professional relationship with Bank of America. When I moved to Boston in the mid-nineties, I opened a BayBank account. In an evolution that sounds more like a biblical genealogy, BayBank became BankBoston, which became Fleet, which became Bank of America. Morphing graphics reflected these changes, [...]

Love & Architecture

When Aline met Eero in January 1953, she was the associate art editor and critic for the New York Times, recently divorced, and on a trip to Detroit to meet the young architect whose General Motors Technical Center had proved to be such a smashing success. She was to write a profile of Saarinen for [...]

Bassett Jones, Under Our Noses and Over Our Heads

This article does not pretend to encroach upon the purely scientific side of illumination. It merely attempts to indicate where the lighting engineer must look for his problem. He has not an a priori solution. His business is to meet the conditions at hand and to devise a scheme of illumination that will do much [...]

Fixing the World

The 60-year-old United Nations complex, which almost entirely lacks sprinklers, blastproof windows, and many essentials of contemporary diplomatic architecture, does have lots of one amenity that its designers considered indispensable: ashtrays. In the lobby of the U.N.’s most visible building, the Secretariat tower, lovingly designed geometric cigarette receptacles protrude from green marble walls. In the [...]

Uncommon Ground

What is small? This sounds like a trick question, or an excerpt from the text of one of my favorite children’s books, Big Little. But an explanation would seem central to the Museum of Modern Art’s new exhibition “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement,” featuring 11 built or under-construction projects on five [...]

Hiroshima: The Lost Photographs

This essay was originally published on Design Observer in November, 2008. It is republished here to commemorate the 64th anniversary of Hiroshima, and with a new slideshow of 100 photographs courtesy of the International Center of Photography.
One rainy [...]

Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough

When I told an editor recently that my dream upon graduating from college was to be an architecture critic, she laughed. Not at me (I don’t think), but at the idea of aspiring to a job that might be doomed. Online, both everyone and no one is a critic, and architecture talk proliferates, often in [...]

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