Martin Filler is the 2017 recipient of the Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award, given by the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, for his architecture criticism, which has appeared in these pages since 1985. (June 2017)
Kahn at Penn: Transformative Teacher of Architecture
by James F. Williamson
In recent years Louis Kahn’s messy personal history has threatened to overshadow his immense professional accomplishments, yet his aura has grown steadily, not just for what he achieved but also because of what has taken place in the built environment since his death. After he almost single-handedly restored architecture’s age-old status as an art form, his legacy was quickly squandered by younger coprofessionals. From the mid-1970s onward they have careened from one extreme, short-lived stylistic fad to the next—Postmodernism, Deconstructivism, Blobitecture—and lost sight of the profound values Kahn wanted to convey: timelessness, solidity, nobility, and repose.
Power at Ground Zero: Politics, Money, and the Remaking of Lower Manhattan
by Lynne B. Sagalyn
One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building
by Judith Dupré
The transformation of the World Trade Center site was hampered to a shameful degree by the intransigent self-interest of both individuals and institutions. Although all major construction schemes face tremendous problems, the rebuilding encapsulates everything that is wrong with urban development in a period when, as in so many other aspects of our public life, the good of the many is sacrificed to the gain of the few.
Concrete Concept: Brutalist Buildings Around the World
by Christopher Beanland
edited by Julia Gatley and Stuart King
Literature that takes a wistful backward glance at the outmoded manners and mores of the previous forty or fifty years has a direct parallel in architecture. Time and again we have seen reawakened interest in the disdained buildings of two generations earlier, a span still within living memory but not quite yet history.
In today’s America of drastically reduced civic expectations, Snøhetta’s quietly brilliant reconfiguration of Times Square is an exemplar of how much can be achieved in city planning without the gigantic financial outlays and dire social displacements that typified American postwar urban renewal projects. An evident understanding of how people interact in public spaces—above all their desire to be seen as much as to see—made Snøhetta an obvious choice.
“I’m a surprisingly limited photographer,” Penn insisted to me, “and I’ve learned not to go beyond my capacity. I’ve tried a few times to depart from what I know I can do, and I’ve failed.” Yet it is difficult to deny that Penn was the supreme studio photographer of the twentieth century. His artistry both emerged from and depended on his very specific, highly aestheticized commercial work.
The three German Georgian graces who are the focus of the exhibition “Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World” brought far more to their adopted country than just political stability. They were all exceptionally well educated, intellectually curious, and aesthetically attuned, even by the standards of the day usually reserved for men. This was true especially when it came to the Enlightenment ideas and principles being advanced at the time.
“Arkitektur-Striper: Architecture in Comic-Strip Form,” at Oslo’s National Museum-Architecture proves why a once déclassé graphic genre is able to explain buildings to the general public better than even the most immersive virtual-reality techniques.