Martin Filler is the author, most recently, of Makers of Modern Architecture, Volume II: From Le Corbusier to Rem Koolhaas, a collection of his writing on architecture in these pages.
 (April 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

Living Happily Ever After

Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1968; photograph by Robert Adams from his 1974 book The New West, to be reissued by Steidl this April. His exhibition ‘Around the House and Other New Work’ is on view at the Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, March 10–April 23, with a monograph published by the gallery.

Houses for a New World: Builders and Buyers in American Suburbs, 1945–1965

by Barbara Miller Lane

Detached America: Building Houses in Postwar Suburbia

by James A. Jacobs
The great unanswered question about the suburbanization of mid-twentieth-century America is this: Could it have been done better?

Hanging Out with Hitler

A postcard of the Great Hall of the Berghof, Adolf Hitler’s Alpine retreat near Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, circa 1936

MAS: The Modern Architecture Symposia, 1962–1966: A Critical Edition

edited by Rosemarie Haag Bletter and Joan Ockman, with Nancy Eklund Later

Hitler at Home

by Despina Stratigakos
Among the odder conceits of the Romantic movement was the vogue for rendering new buildings as ruins. Inspired by Piranesi’s moody vedute of noble Roman monuments in picturesque decay, late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century architects such as John Soane had their latest works depicted as they might look millennia in the future—bare …

America’s Green Giant

Frederick Law Olmsted; portrait by John Singer Sargent, 1895

Frederick Law Olmsted: Writings on Landscape, Culture, and Society

edited by Charles E. Beveridge

The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Volume IX: The Last Great Projects, 1890–1895

edited by David Schuyler, Gregory Kaliss, and Jeffrey Schlossberg
Besides being an experimental farmer, prolific journalist, crusading publisher, military health care reformer, and insightful social critic, Frederick Law Olmsted was also the greatest advocate and impresario of the public realm this country has ever produced.

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A Miracle in New York Harbor

West 8’s Discovery and Outlook Hills, with the Statue of Liberty in the distance, Governors Island, New York, 2016

In symbolic terms, the completion of the brilliant architectural transformation of Governors Island could not have come at a more opportune moment. During a season when mindless hatred against immigrants runs rampant in our land, the vista from Outlook Hill offers an instructive panorama. With the view comes an implication of how the lives of the twelve million women, men, and children who passed through Ellis Island were immeasurably improved by American citizenship, to say nothing of those of their hundreds of millions of descendants.

Tales of Three Cities

Intersection of rue de Seine and rue de l'Échaudé: circa 1924 by Eugène Atget (left), 1997 by Christopher Rauschenberg (right), from the new paperback edition of Christopher Rauschenberg's

The then-and-now approach to urban criticism took root during the nineteenth century, more or less simultaneously with the invention of photography, and has continued up to the present. But a larger question raised by images of Paris, London, and New York architecture across long periods of time is how the cities’ occupants themselves have changed.

The Builder of Jungles

Edmundo Cavanellas Residence, Petropolis, Brazil, designed by Oscar Niemeyer with landscape design by Roberto Burle Marx, 1954

In our ecologically conscious times, melding man-made structures with their natural surroundings is considered among the highest goals of architecture. Landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx—who is now the subject of an exhibition at New York’s Jewish Museum—freed horticulture from restrictively conventional European precedents and ushered his discipline into a new age of regional appropriateness on a global scale. But the new exhibition, in its eagerness to advance its subject as a multi-media polymath, is wholly inadequate in conveying his revolutionary accomplishment in garden design.

The Original Wagner

A selection of costume designs for Der Ring des Nibelungen: Figurinen by Carl Emil Doepler, Berlin, 1889,

Some devotees of Richard Wagner have suggested, not wholly in jest, that the best way to enjoy the master’s operas is with one’s eyes closed. For not only have few stage presentations of his monumentally conceived and famously lengthy music dramas ever approached the cosmic sublimity of their underlying compositions, but nowadays it appears mandatory for them to be produced as bizarrely as possible, and despite the composer’s detailed visual instructions to the contrary. All of which has made the history of the composer’s original conceptions—primary evidence of which is on view in the Morgan Library & Museum’s “Wagner’s Ring: Forging an Epic”—feel like something of a rediscovery.

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