Announcing Issue #32
Closing out 2022.
The end of the year approaches, and I have decided to give in to the impulse to look back. I do not purport to be able to make sense of it all, but one look through this issue reveals at least a few trends: People are looking to religion when the world seems to be falling apart around them (“That’s Me in the Corner” by Lyta Gold, page 6; “Off-White” by AJ Artemel, page 13); stalwart institutions are making a point of enjoying their big milestones (“Eyes to the Front” by Alex Klimoski, page 26; “Yesterday’s Future” by Gideon Fink Shapiro, page 27); and some of us seem to be paying more focused attention to the places where we live, probably as a result of our pandemic-induced stasis (“When the City Went Still” by Martin C. Pedersen, page 22; “War and City” by Piper French, page 23).
It is easy to find these patterns standing on the precipice of yet another new beginning. Still, there’s plenty else that does not quite make sense, in the world as well as these pages: a play about Robert Moses at The Shed that takes too many interpretive liberties; a show about Bernd and Hilla Becher that demonstrates how their work transcended the label of photography; a new World Cup stadium in a place so hot that it can only be used a few months out of the year. This last piece, which you can read on page 16, was written by regular NYRA contributor and friend Leijia Hanrahan, who died earlier this month. I miss her, and I love her memory.
Looking back helps us see things clearly: all the ways in which things make sense (“Lifting the Curse” by Kate Wagner, page 11) and all the ways in which they don’t at all (“In Debt and in the Dark” by Anjulie Rao, page 8). That’s why we write and read: so that we can put things in order, even just for a minute, even if we only do it so we can watch them fall apart again. ⬤
And now for some excerpts…
LYTA GOLD GOES LOOKING FOR RELIGION
No, this performance is much sadder and more desperate than that: it’s the self taking pictures in a mirror, the empty, terrified, undefined, and fundamentally lonely self, praying to be noticed by the vulgar crowd. It’s oriented not toward God but toward the enemy, whom it both hates and desperately needs.
ANJULIE RAO INVESTIGATES THE STUDENT-DEBT CRISIS
Each “leap” is taken at an increasing height; the platform is scaffolded by debt.
KATE WAGNER FINDS CLOSURE AT GEFFEN HALL
But beneath that noble rhetoric lies the need, in this privatized world of the arts, to make a profit regardless of who gets trampled or exalted, and to sell tickets and sell them for a lot of money, even if that means the cheap seats really do sound cheap.
AJ ARTEMEL SEES THE AMERICAN DREAM
At this point, I realized that the docents and the ushers, distributed every twenty feet along the tour’s prescribed path, were actually lay members: volunteers, not employees. I inquired about the dressing rooms; my questions exceeded the volunteer’s script, and I was gestured on, kindly, but with a sentence ending in a period.
MATTHEW ALLEN RETURNS TO DECONSTRUCTIVISM
Architects have typically shied away from the pastoral model of architecture, too often taking comfort in the mere appearance of resistance.
LEIJIA HANRAHAN TALKS SOCCER
It’s tempting to dance some cheap interpretation of “no ethical consumption under capitalism” here, but that would be a cop-out. In truth, when we watch the World Cup, we are consuming its ethics in their entirety. Joy, beauty, excitement, conflict, finance, corruption, exploitation, murder.
LESLIE KERN AND SAMUEL STEIN TALK GENTRIFICATION
SS: It’s a broken world.
LK: It is very broken. But, as a fellow Jew, I draw hope from the practice of tikkun olam—repair of the world. For me, bringing this idea into my political worldview allows me to think about change as acts of repair, most of which are going to be small, local, and relatively unnoticed.
MARTIN C. PEDERSEN GRIPES ABOUT NEW YORK
But New York won’t go down.
PIPER FRENCH SEES COPS IN L.A.
By the time we get to Dutch architect Hans Teerds’s essay at the close of the book, it is impossible to reach a conclusion different from the one the book has been hinting at the whole time: Downtown LA represents an intentional failure of the built environment to meet the needs of its citizens.
EMILY CONKLIN LOOKS BEYOND THE FRAME
Eventually, such instincts gave way to an interest in documenting the death masks of industry: the machinations of blast furnaces, cooling towers, and all manner of smelting machines are made legible in images that reveal how these things had once worked and offer clues as to why they were now dying.
JONAH COE-SCHARFF PEELS BACK THE BROWN PAPER
To seriously address the issue demands thinking through the decommodification of ground-floor real estate (whether through subsidy, communal forms of tenure, or true public ownership) and engaging local residents as cocreators of postconsumerist templates for leisure and gathering.
ALEX TELL CUTS MODELS DOWN TO SIZE
Model Behavior offers an enticing, if ultimately limited, proposition: models impact social behavior.
ALEX KLIMOSKI WISHES STOREFRONT A HAPPY BIRTHDAY
New York has arguably always been a hostile place, but at points in its history, it offered the resources for communities of likeminded individuals to form, nurture, and grow. As the city has been privatized within an inch of its life, those resources have been stripped away or left unreplenished.
GIDEON FINK SHAPIRO WONDERS ABOUT REGIONAL PLANNING
It’s all so fragile and fabulous. This messy collage of planned and unplanned urbanism. Momentarily, the city is ours. For us, by us. The future is open.
KEVIN ROGAN IS BORED AT THE THEATER
What we get, then, is the exhumation of an ideological fairy tale dressed down in stilted dialogue and lazy research. But no one ever went bankrupt by playing the hits.
ENRIQUE RAMIREZ CALLS CRITICISM’S BLUFF
In either case, the building sits there unresolved, age-weathered, and a reminder of what happens when a formalist gesture comes down from the heights of Parnassus to a hard landing in real space and real time.
ERIC SCHWARTAU CAN’T HAVE CENTRAL PARK—SO NO ONE CAN!
What if we sullied the views that command some of the highest rents in the world? What if we poured resources into underserved and underfunded streets, creating an interstitial network of park space for all New Yorkers? Parks that weren’t a schlep? Parks that weren’t tourist magnets? What if we redistributed those 18,000 trees around the city? What if we protected streets for runners and bikers, not only in one obscenely oversize park, but everywhere? What if a high quality of life wasn’t an invisible idea but a lived reality? What if we decentralized Central Park?
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New York Review of Architecture is a team effort. Our Editor is Samuel Medina, Deputy Editor is Marianela D’Aprile, our Editors at Large are Carolyn Bailey, Phillip Denny and Alex Klimoski, and our Publisher is Nicolas Kemper.
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