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New Angle: Voice

Apr 19, 2023

Anyone who writes about American architecture of the mid twentieth
and early 21 st century measures their critical achievement with the
yardstick drawn by Ada Louise Huxtable. With countless articles for
two great daily newspapers, this petite New Yorker had a gigantic
influence on our understanding of the work of architects, real estate
developers, city bureaucrats, and the city itself, over the course of six
decades in print.

General readers are quite accustomed to having their choices in books,
films, dance, opera, drama, TV, and music directed and influenced by
critics opinions. We find our favorite interpreters, trust their
judgements, buy books or tickets. But in the concrete jungle of the city,
we are captives, we have no choice to ignore what is built by others to
house us, for our work places, our transit systems, our public realm. The
ubiquity of mediocre architecture dulls the senses, and yet, when
architecture achieves greatness it can exalt the human spirit. Ada Louise
Huxtable set out to separate the dull from the great. A few architects
tried to argue with her. They never won.

With her impeccable civic values, cultivated aesthetic sensibility and
lacerating accuracy she praised and razed. Listen now to The Art We Must Live With: Ada Louise Huxtable and Architecture Criticism.


Special thanks in this episode to the generous architectural critics:  Alexandra Lange, Cathleen McGuigan, Christopher Hawthorne, Julie Iovine, Karrie Jacobs, Christine Cipriani and Paul Goldberger–all achieved their craft following the inimitable example set by Ada Louise.  Historian Meredith Clausen, Wall Street Journal editor Eric Gibson, and the Huxtable archive team of Stuart and Beverly Denenburg, and from the Getty Center:  Maristella Casciato everyone was exceedingly helpful.  

This podcast is produced by Brandi Howell, with editorial advising from Alexandra Lange.   Thanks also production assistant Virginia Eskridge. 

New Angle Voice is brought to you by the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation.  Funding for this podcast comes from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Graham Foundation.