Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"So much bad stuff was being built"

Is it Wednesday already? I'm still catching up on reading from last week, such as this terrific Q-and-A with renowned architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable in the Sunday Times. The 87-year-old has a new book coming out called "On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change." She's interviewed in the Times by Phillip Lopate. Here's a smidgen of the Q-and-A:

Lopate: From my perspective, there’s been a healthy shift from seeing cities as basically dying to essentially buoyant, yet still requiring help.

Huxtable: We’ve seen a reversal. Years ago there was white flight to the suburbs, the inner cities were crime-ridden, there was a lot of poverty. We still have poverty, but people started moving back to the cities.

Lopate: There’s also been a shift in attitude regarding density.

Huxtable: Yes, urban renewal tried to get rid of density. It was viewed as concentrating poverty and disease. Now there’s the awareness that density is more energy-efficient and less destructive of the environment than urban sprawl.

Lopate: I take it you’re for density but not for overbuilding.

Huxtable: How can I be against density? I’m a New Yorker! I grew up with density. Still, in a way I’m glad for this downturn in the economy. Because so much bad stuff was being built. This will give us a chance to think, to take stock. I am so weary of these stupid alliances between developers and cultural institutions in which the cultural institution is given a block of space and the developers overbuild the rest and make an enormous profit.
The Museum of Modern Art has become a real estate operation. I admit a certain amount of nostalgia: I remember a street that was once one of the best streets in New York, 53rd Street. Watching it change over the years, I can’t help but view their new Nouvel tower as the last destructive nail.

[Image via pantufla on Flickr]


Jeremiah Moss said...

nice--ada is great. she had the most prescient quote about the WTC:

"Who's afraid of the big, bad buildings? Everyone, because there are so many things about gigantism that we just don't know... The Trade Center towers could be the start of a new skyscraper age or the biggest tombstones in the world."
--Ada Louise Huxtable, 1966

Ken Mac said...

Thanks for that fantastic tip! Can't wait to read the book and this Q&A

word verification for this message: Ampsoot. Cool!

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