Read On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change by Ada Louise Huxtable Free Online
Book Title: On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change|
Date of issue: October 28th 2008
ISBN 13: 9780802717078
The author of the book: Ada Louise Huxtable
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 12.51 MB
Edition: Walker Books
Read full description of the books On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change:There is a Half a Star plus/minus added to this review.
Huxtable's reflections or published memories of change is certainly better than a two or just O.K., and also it is not a great addition to most collections. The reason for this is the huge amount of ground that is so eclectically reviewed over about a half century of writing, but trying to reflect on the whole of the world of architecture for a century with a handful of columns. Yes, a handful by comparison to the number Huxtable and others have written.
The limitation to these wordy ad hominem commentaries is that they ignore, dismiss, or otherwise miss many important elements in the development of architecture in the Twentieth Century. The New York City centric writing even belies Huxtable own work, certain minimizes it, as exemplified by the role she played in the Pritzker Prize for Architecture.
Areas of the world chosen for review are not always the most representative or even vital. Examining New Harmony, Indiana while ignoring Columbus, Indiana just down/up the road is a case of poor selection of columns. Whether you like California or structures built there, to say nothing of the west coast, this set of reviews all but ignores its existence.
Other areas that are mostly ignored include Chicago, Houston, and the Pacific Northwest in general to say nothing of Toronto. Are there great building outside of a handful of Cities? Of course. But you wouldn't know the importance of several areas of the world from the set of writing.
Focusing on what is in essence, office and institutional building, the collected writing in this book ignore some of the great public works structures such as dams, bridges, and most great city scapes. A few of the later, city scapes, mentioned are done so either as bad examples, total outrageous and now torn down or demolished works. Great works from the rubble of war is mostly ignored.
As a matter of disclosure I have always disagreed with her views to some extent on the nature of the importance and essence of the Bauhaus movement. The arbitrary divisions of the 20th century periods of movements and styles in building is another are where the lines are not always drawn clearly or accurately. Again, these are columns that are being reprinted without editing from the contemporaneous source to be presented as a 'reflection'. The result is not always pretty or complimentary to Huxtable or the genre'.
The nature of Huxtable's criticism was well known to me going into this book, but I was rather appalled at the selections that resorted to using attendance as an example for a meaningful negative criteria by which to evaluate an architectural work.
Ada Louise Huxtable has written some wonderful prose in her career and in that this book does not disappoint. But she has written much better and said more that would have been far more advantageous and appreciated than many, but not all the selections in this collection.
Architecture fans seeking a work that will illuminate about a wide range of modern works will be disappointed. Those seeking eclectic snippets and don't need a cohesive presentation will be more receptive to this work.
I suggest reading this book at some point. To do so without preparation or background however will only engender a distorted view of the topic that will make a Gehry structure look normal.
Read information about the authorAda Louise (Landman) Huxtable (b. March 14, 1921, in New York, NY) is an architecture critic and writer on architecture. In 1970 she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for "distinguished criticism." Her father, Michael Landman, was co-author (with his brother, Rabbi Isaac Landman) of the play "A Man of Honor."
Ada Louise Landman received an A. B. (magna cum laude) from Hunter College, CUNY in 1941. In 1942, she married industrial designer L. Garth Huxtable, and continued graduate study at New York University from 1942-50. She served as Curatorial Assistant for Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1946-50. She was a contributing editor to Progressive Architecture and Art in America from 1950-63 before being named the first architecture critic at The New York Times, a post she held from 1963-82. She has received grants from the Graham Foundation for a number of projects, including the book "Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?".
She is currently the architecture critic for The Wall Street Journal.
John Costonis, writing of how public aesthetics is shaped, used her as a prime example of an influential media critic, remarking that "the continuing barrage fired from [her] Sunday column... had New York developers, politicians, and bureaucrats, ducking for years." He reproduces a cartoon in which construction workers, at the base of a building site with a foundation and a few girders lament that "Ada Louise Huxtable already doesn't like it!" (Costonis,1989)
Carter Wiseman writes, "Huxtable's insistence on intellectual rigor and high design standards made her the conscience of the national architectural community." (Wiseman, 2000)
She has written over ten books on architecture, including a 2004 biography of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Penguin Lives series.
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