End of an Era: Remembering Ada Louise Huxtable

The great Ada Louise Huxtable, standard setter for architecture criticism as we know it. Photo by Gene Maggio, via The New York Times
 

As this week comes to a close, we are taking time to reflect on Ada Louise Huxtable, the great architecture critic for The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, who passed away on Monday.

“She cared about public standards, social equity, the whole city,” writes Michael Kimmelman in The New York Times.

“She effectively invented a modern profession and set a tone of elegance, clarity, and strength,” says Paul Goldberger at Vanity Fair.

Alexandra Lange at Design Observer admires her process: “She wrote what she thought, as she thought, based on her research and observation. She trusted to her own internal consistency. This is the journalist’s approach, to treat each project with the tools required, moving forward, ever forward.”

Like so many others, we have always admired Ada Louise Huxtable for her style. Back in 2005, when the High Line was still an idea in its infancy, she reviewed our design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, where some of the initial design concepts for the public park were presented for the very first time.

She gave us this progressive account on landscape architecture in her review, which was written during a boom time for new design and construction in major American cities:

In one of those totally unpredictable shifts in sensibility that occur when least expected, it is the landscape architects who are re-engaging today’s radically innovative aesthetic with human needs and social functions; this is where the essential connections with the human condition are being made. And just in time, as architects, seduced by celebrity and technology, engaged in a dead-end contest in egos and engineering, have become more fixated on object making than place making, more removed from the intrinsic social purposes of their art.

As Robert Ivy writes in Architectural Record, “Her courageous written voice reverberated like a well-grounded basso profundo.” We couldn’t agree more. Her legacy lives on in the thousands of writers who aspire to be as brave, balanced, and bold as she was.

Take a moment this weekend to check out the Wall Street Journal's summary of Ada Louise Huxtable’s poignant arguments and commentary on iconic buildings and landmarks around the world.

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