a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


The next generation of architects


Architectural critics
Richard Meier Architect
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

Lewis Mumford was an architectural critic, and a very important one. There are probably people between Mumford and Ada Louise Huxtable but I don’t know who they are. Ada Louise Huxtable changed, in the United States, the media’s interests and perception of architecture in the most profound way. She was a really the first of, at least in my lifetime, I think, the first serious, thoughtful, conscientious commenter and critic of architecture. And the "New York Times", I think, to some degree at least, appreciated the quality that she brought to the newspaper. Other cities then, in fact, followed. In Los Angeles, they have architectural critics, Chicago, major cities have people writing about architecture but rarely of the quality of Ada Louise Huxtable. But nevertheless, they saw that, you know, there was something the public was interested in, and wanted to know about and therefore found people, you know, to write about them. More often than not, these were reporters more than critics and so the writing, you know, took on more of a reportage aspect than a critical one. Although there are people writing for the "Chicago Tribune", the "Boston Globe" and the "Los Angeles Times", you know, that attempt architectural criticism and attempt, you know, to try to raise the level of what is being built in their city. For many, this has become... they feel it’s almost like promotion and therefore they try to get different people to write about their project, whether it’s in the Real Estate section of the "New York Times" or it’s something just to give it notoriety and credibility. There’s then this aspect of, kind of, promotional writing as opposed to critical writing, and sometimes it’s hard to see whether something’s one side... on one side or another. Then there are critics whose opinion, you know is going to go in a certain direction. And they’re going to write about certain kinds of things in a certain way and other things in another kind of way but the general public probably doesn’t have that level of discernability and therefore, at least I believe most of the things I read in the newspaper. I probably shouldn’t because it’s probably as distorted as everything else is but in architecture, I think what’s happened is, it’s kind of promoted an awareness of what’s happening and that’s very good.

[Q] But at a professional level, who would you say that... the critics that really contributes the most.

Well, I happen to think that Nicolai Ouroussoff is a good writer. I don’t always agree with what he says but I think it’s thoughtful and it’s well put together. I always liked Herbert Muschamp as a critic and I thought he was extremely good but it was, it, he was... he was all over the place. And, you know, Paul Goldberger in his attempt to, I think, try to be fair to whatever he’s writing about, sort of, keeps jumping back and forth from one side to another and you never know quite where he stands as a result because he’s always saying, on the other hand. But I think that, you know, he is certainly a thoughtful critic most of the time.

[Q] Kenneth Frampton.


[Q] Kenneth Frampton?

Well, Kenneth is... is really more a historian and critic than someone that you would associate with what’s going on. He really is an extraordinary writer and critic but he’s not...

[Q] A theoretician.


[Q] Theoretician.

Yeah, he’s more of a theoretician. Kenneth’s more of a theoretician than he is a critic. And Joseph... Joseph Rykwert, I think, just has too many other interests. You know, really, I mean, he can write about anything and be brilliant but... and architecture’s one of the things that interests him but it’s not the only thing that interests Joseph. And I think Joseph, were he to focus on architecture would be much more influential than he is.

[Q] Frampton is good at that.

Yeah. But unfortunately, there really aren’t that many people who write well about architecture.

[Q] But I would say there were people like Frampton, for instance, who made a large contribution to the development of architectural thinking... in the last forty years.

Yeah, yeah, that’s true.

[Q] Very important figures, like Mumford.

No, no, I think that Kenneth Frampton has probably been the most important figure, you know, in architectural education and literature.

The prominent American architect Richard Meier (b. 1934) is best known for the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, one of his many public projects which broke from his usual style of sleek, white buildings. In all his work – carried out with characteristic refined style – he refuses to bend to the trends of modern architecture. He has won many awards including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, considered the field's highest honour.

Listeners: Massimo Vignelli

Massimo Vignelli was born in Milan and studied architecture in Milan and Venice. He is the co-founder and President of Vignelli Associates and Chief Executive Officer of Vignelli Designs in New York. His work includes graphic and corporate identity programs, publication designs, architectural graphics, interiors, furniture, and consumer product designs. His work has been published and exhibited throughout the world and entered in the permanent collections of several museums. He has taught and lectured on design in the major cities and universities in the United States and abroad. Included among Massimo Vignelli's awards are the Gran Premio Triennale di Milano, 1964, the Compasso d'Oro, awarded by the Italian Association for Industrial Design (ADI), 1964 and 1998, the 1982 Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, the 1983 AIGA Gold Medal, the 1992 Interior Product Designers Fellowship of Excellence, The 1995 Brooklyn Museum Design Award for Lifetime Achievement and The 2001 Russel Wright Award for Design Excellence.

Tags: Lewis Mumford, Ada Louise Huxtable, Nicolai Ouroussoff, Paul Goldberger, Kenneth Frampton, Joseph Rykwert

Duration: 6 minutes, 20 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2007

Date story went live: 23 December 2008