June 2015

Burn Victim: IBM Building, New York City

Burn Ward Ada Louise Huxtable-IBM Building

“The architect has attempted to accommodate the impossible and the undesirable with notable skill, something that gives Barnes the dubious distinction of at least trying to do the wrong thing right.”

– Ada Louise Huxtable on the IBM Building, Edward L. Barnes & Associates, 1963

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Hearts of the City: A Book Review

Here’s the thing about Herbert Muschamp.

He’s kind of like this smooth nightclub you don’t know whether you want to be a part of. If you go, then everyone knows: you’re “in”. You’re “cool”. You look like you know the things everyone wishes they knew. You acquire a sort of sophisticate air just by associating with him. On the other hand, you don’t like the drinks that much, the conversation is always a little raucous and it’s always a little too smoky.

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How Buildings Collapse

In 1989, architectural critic Herbert Muschamp wrote an essay for the New York Times, “How Buildings Remember”, that was in part the first review of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.  In it, he discussed Modernism, transparency, the uneasy intimate relationship between art and politics, wondered aloud how much a museum should be responsible – or even can be responsible – for in terms of absolution, the Holocaust Museum type, and ended on an unsettling parallel between old and new propaganda and the timeless persistence of denial.  He describes carefully, almost tenderly, James Freed’s formal, spatial, and material answers to the question, “How does a building represent a catastrophe?”

But sometimes, the building IS the catastrophe.

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