Tag Archives: Christopher Hawthorne

Remember Soviet architecture? Hmmm. All that’s coming to mind for me are massive, hybrid modern-neoclassical apartment buildings from, like, the ’30s.

Turns out there’s more to it than that, at least according to a piece in today’s Wall Street Journal:

For a brief, utopian moment in early 20th-century Russia, artists and architects together sought to forge an abstract language of form suited to the politics of the new state. Vladimir Tatlin’s famous model for a Monument to the Third International—envisioned in 1920 as a 1,300-foot-tall ziggurat-like tower rotating on three levels—embodied the visionary, futurist aesthetics and idealism of the movement. The commitment to abstraction and the sense of shared purpose between painters and architects paralleled that of the Bauhaus, and in fact some of its members traveled to Moscow. Yet while the Bauhaus is enshrined in the history of European architecture and modernism, the Russians are often sidelined, and only a few protagonists—such as Kazimir Malevich and El Lissitzky—are widely known by nonspecialists.

The piece, by Cammy Brothers, a professor at the University of Virginia, is definitely worth a read.

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AND COMING UP ON CONCRETE ASPIRATIONS: The year of 2011 in architecture.

Already, the LA Times’s Christopher Hawthorne has his take and the Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin has his favorite developments of the year and his least favorite. But my take is something entirely different.


Remember Soviet architecture?

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Two weeks…

…since I last posted. Wow. Don’t worry: I wasn’t being lazy; I’ve just been very busy. To attempt to make up for my absence, I have a huge pile of interesting links today:


Michael Kimmelman on New York’s public architecture: An excellent piece that makes a very similar point to the one I made a few months ago in this post about architecture and politics — fundamentally, building is an act of faith in the future, an act in accord with the liberal value of an active government.

Kimmelman on the power of place in the Occupy Wall Street protests: I have my reservations about the protests, but the article is certainly worth reading.

And in today’s Times, another piece, again by Kimmelman, about the power of architecture to help the world’s disadvantaged population. This piece cements my view of Kimmelman as avoiding ‘starchitects’ in favor of looking at the role of not-so-high-profile architecture in social change. I disagree with his disparaging of starchitects — I miss Nicolai Ouroussoff — but I do think he’s been doing a good job with these pieces.


An interesting piece by Christopher Hawthorne on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s disparate campus. I’ve never been there, but Hawthorne’s writing about the place is insightful and thought-provoking.

Architectural Record:

Daniel Libeskind’s new museum of military history has opened in Dresden, Germany. It consists of a massive steel v-shaped form cutting apart a neo-classical building (surprise, surprise). I like that Libeskind takes risks, but I don’t like how they all look so similar and how at times they feel arbitrary and meaningless. For me, the jury’s still out on this one.


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The way(s) forward for urbanism, part V

Too often the debate about urbanism revolves only around function and not about form, as if architecture and urbanism were divorced and unrelated. That is, of course, not the case at all. Time for round five! You can find the first four parts here, here, here and here.

The new West Hollywood Library. Photo courtesy LA Times.

More about the new West Hollywood Library after the break.

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New Apple headquarters

A suburban office park for classy people

Well that’s it — Apple’s plan for a new headquarters building. It’s basically a big circular building surrounded by lots of green space on a big plot of land bought from Hewlett Packard in Cupertino, not far from Apple’s current, quite generic headquarters. The design is by Norman Foster. Read on past the break for more.

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National September 11 Memorial

First off, I must apologize for not blogging in a while. I’ve been quite busy with a number of different things, one of which was watching the U.S.’s political system reach an astonishing level of dysfunction. (I’ve blogged before about architecture and politics — the two are closely linked.) My views on this summer’s debt ceiling debacle can be found in an article of mine in the Hartford Courant here.

On September 12 of this year, after literally a decade of wrangling among an ever-expanding group of officials, developers, victims’ families, planner and architects, the National September 11 Memorial will finally open. No one in the world of architecture is particularly excited about the occasion: though it’s certainly an important event for the country, the selected design for the memorial isn’t really a favorite (though it is not nearly as hated as the site’s largest new tower, 1 World Trade Center, which was designed by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merill and is an abomination).

The National September 11 Memorial just a few weeks before opening. Photo courtesy Los Angeles Times.

This week, the architecture critics from the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, Blair Kamin and Christopher Hawthorne, respectively, reviewed the new memorial. (Side note: where’s Michael Kimmelman, the new architecture critic for The New York Times?! He’s still got a few weeks, but he’d better start off strong.) Kamin and Hawthorne’s conclusions about the memorial are both similar and predictable, but also quite legitimate. To read Hawthorne’s review, continue past the break.

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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. Continue reading

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