ARCHITECTURE, ANYONE? by Ada Louise Huxtable


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During her 20-year tenure as architecture critic for The New York Times, Huxtable established herself as one of the country's most perceptive and fiercely independent defenders of excellence in a field too often marked by shoddiness, pretension and downright wrongheadedness. Now, having retired with a MacArthur Fellowship, she has winnowed through her essays, revising and updating some, to produce what she calls ""The book that sums up my work, my field and the current state of the art."" The result is a highly entertaining, often provocative, sometimes rib-tickling look at everything from Notre Dame Cathedral to K-Mart stores, from Grand Central Terminal to doctors' waiting rooms, where, according to the author, ""Danish modern went to die."" Huxtable ranges across the centuries in making her points. She is eminently sensible in her attacks on the brutal inhumanity of Pencreac'h and Vasconi's ""The Forum,"" ""a standardized nonplace"" that replaced the 19th-century pavilions at Les Halles in Paris. She reinstates Viollet-le-Duc, the much maligned ""restorer"" of many of Europe's medieval buildings. Her dicta about the post-modernist architects are soundly buttressed with clearly expressed analyses of the works of Michael Graves, Robert Venturi and Richard Meier. She unmasks the inequities and inadequacies of the present New York City zoning regulations while praising Battery Park City as enthusiastically as she attacks the South Street Seaport. Evenhanded in her opinions, Huxtable commands respect whether you agree with her or disagree. Her commitment to excellence, her thorough knowledge of her field, and the grace with which she expresses her opinions carry all before them. For those who have followed the writings of this extraordinary critic over the years as well as for those discovering them for the first time, Architecture, Anyone? will prove a stimulating read.

Pub Date: Nov. 3rd, 1986
Publisher: Random House