Page C-Something: Inside The New York Times (UPDATE)

Haha — get it? It’s like the new documentary Page One: Inside The New York Times, except that architecture reviews are never on page one. Probably rightly so.

But the question remains: who will replace departing architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff? He was supposed to be gone at the end of June; his last review was published on June 27. (Fortunately, it was a good one.) UPDATE: It was not his last review. Another one appeared on the front page of NYTimes.com in the evening of June 5 and on the front page of The Times‘s arts section (C1) the next day. It’s about Zaha Hadid, one of Ouroussoff’s favorites, and it’s also quite good. This could be it, but maybe there is still more to come!

Read on past the break for the lowdown on potential replacements, including my own personal pick.

So presumably Ouroussoff’s gone. The rumors are swirling. Architectural Record‘s rundown of the contenders and poll is here. The Architect’s Newspaper reports that Michael Kimmelman, The Times‘s versatile art critic who is currently the paper’s abroad columnist is the frontrunner for the position. Well that’s fine. I don’t know much about Kimmelman, but I don’t have anything against him, and my cursory Googlings revealed him to be interesting and intelligent (at least on the surface), if not particularly dedicated to architecture (in addition to writing abroad and criticizing art, he has also blogged about tennis).

But whom would I pick for the position?

Having looked a little more closely at the contenders over the past few days, I’ve settled on a pick: Christopher Hawthorne, of The Los Angeles Times. He is a perceptive, informed and sharp reviewer, has a good wit about him and is eager to explore the relationship between architecture and other art forms. (Here‘s a great example of this.) In a sense, this makes him come across as less stiff than Ouroussoff (though I still stand by my positive appraisal of Ouroussoff — being focused on reviewing architecture in a singular manner is not necessarily a bad thing). That, along with a preference for experimental, non ‘starchitect’ designers, will make him popular with the bloggers who seem to so despise Ouroussoff.

Hawthorne would certainly be a change for The Times, but I do not think he would be a bad change. A good critic can take his/her work in his/her own direction and give readers new perspective. Huxtable, Goldberger, Muschamp and Ouroussoff (all of The Times‘s previous critics) have certainly all done so; Hawthorne would do the same.

But that’s just me. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

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