R.I.P.

Ada Louise Huxtable, Astute and Feared Architecture Critic, Dies at 91

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Ada Louise Huxtable, who in 1963 became the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper, died yesterday in New York at 91-years-old.

Ms. Huxtable was named architecture critic by the New York Times at a time when steamrolling urban planners–most famously Robert Moses–were doing battle in the court of public opinion with members of the burgeoning preservation movement like Jane Jacobs, whose seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was published in 1961.

Ms. Huxtable sided with the preservationists as she redefined modern architectural journalism. Read More

Lead Indicator

Downtown Redux

San Chandan.

The rise of 1 World Trade Center is a visible reminder to every New Yorker that lower Manhattan is nearing the chief milestone in its renewal. The neighborhood that has emerged in the long aftermath of the attacks bears little resemblance to its antecedent.

Apart from their new, paramount significance in the national identity, the neighborhoods of lower Manhattan are now closer to dense urban enclaves than was ever envisaged when Radio Row gave way to what Lewis Mumford described in his book The Myth of the Machine as the “the purposeless giantism and technological exhibitionism that are now eviscerating the living tissue of every great city.” Read More

The Sit-Down

Leading His Charge

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Since 1986, Steven Spinola has served as president of the Real Estate Board of New York, the powerful lobbying arm that he has captained through two recessions, property tax reductions and a series of battles against the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Commercial Observer spoke to Mr. Spinola, 63, about what he learned in 2011, new battles for the New Year, his weakness for skiing and whether he’d rather be drinking with Robert Moses or Jane Jacobs. Hint: His answer probably won’t surprise anybody. Read More

Slideshow

Honk If You Love the Midtown Tunnel

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of a thousand commuters throwing their heads on their horns in exasperation at the mouth of the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.

Not only will they spend precious minutes of family time waiting for the slightest signs of motion, but it turns out this vital piece of infrastructure belongs in a Read More