Announcing Issue #33
A few weeks ago, I was feeling out of sorts, so I took myself to the movies. I took the F from my apartment in South Brooklyn to the IFC Center in Greenwich Village, delighting like I always do in that stretch over Gowanus where the train is above ground, and there are great views of the Upper Bay one way and of Brooklyn the other.
I love that even when I go to the IFC Center in the middle of the afternoon there are plenty of other people there. There’s humility in the fact that I’m not the only person who thought it would be a good idea to watch Spirited Away at 3:35 p.m. on a Wednesday. I took a seat to the left of the aisle, leaving one seat empty to my left for my bag and coat and hat, and watched this movie for what felt like the first time, on a big screen, in the dark. By the time I left, I felt like myself again.
It seems like the season for such afternoons. The long, accumulated dreariness of January and February can get in the way of connection, even with ourselves. I was guided partially by this feeling when putting together this issue, and so you’ll find here several pieces that gesture toward the need for communion, and hopefully a few more that can point you in the direction of fulfilling it yourself. ⬤
Our new issue has a few new parts: a collaboration with the Canadian Center for Architecture to make a (purple!) insert; a mall sub-theme including a cutaway axonometric of, well, a mall; and, most spectacularly, James Wines, who is 91 years old and the founder of SITE, drew our centerfold: “Nature’s Revenge.”
All of that is on top of the fundamentals: letters to and from the editors, our SKYLINE spread, and pieces by some of the best writers on architecture out there. But don’t take our word for it. Here are a few of theirs…
IAN VOLNER TALKS SUPERTALLS
I am of six minds, like a supertall tower that has only six people in it—this is a metaphor, but it is also more or less true.
KARRIE JACOBS FINDS THE “NEW NEW YORK” LACKING
The plan’s purpose to “make New York the best place to work in the world” is repeated like a mantra. The idea that this might somehow hinge on making New York the best place to live doesn’t come up.
PIPER FRENCH GETS LOST IN A MALL
Malls are at the middle point of a global conveyor belt that starts in a maquiladora and ends in a gigantic garbage heap—or maybe the Pacific Trash Vortex, which sounds as if it should be in White Noise, but exists, alas, in the world we’ve made for ourselves.
THOMAS DE MONCHAUX EYES A SEASONED OPERATOR
Reinier de Graaf is one of very many white male architects of a certain age who in their headshots seem consistently to be giving former-semipro-middleweight Limelight bouncer.
GIDEON FINK SHAPIRO TYPES TO A CHATBOT
“Is architecture criticism pointless?” I ask ChatGPT, suddenly imagining myself posing this question to a $5 psychic on the Lower East Side.
No, architecture criticism is not pointless.
SASHA FRERE-JONES GOES TO THE MOVIES, AMONG OTHER PLACES
The Sacklers will run free, as will their children and their children’s children. What we can do is take care of each other and make spaces, buildings, rooms, and clinics to repair the wounds from the exsanguinations that the rich perform on us every day, for nothing more than their own comfort and enrichment.
ERIC SCHWARTAU LOVES TO DRIVE
The more the war on cars heats up, the more ridiculous I find all the multimodal martyrdom. Did I become a better person taking the train or riding a bike? No, I got burnt out taking the subway every day, constantly at the whim of a mercurial mass-transit god.
PHILLIP DENNY AND JAMES WINES TALK JUNK CULTURE
PD: What did he find so American about you or about your work? What’s the Americanness?
JW: Junk culture, I guess. The asphalt world. SITE’s Ghost Parking Lot was repeated in twenty or so different formats. We recognized that the asphalt world and the automobile were so iconic that they were subliminal.
YASMIN NAIR DOESN’T PULL PUNCHES
To be fair to Kamin, he’s been asking questions about equity and displacement for a while, in his long-running, now-discontinued column. (He has retired.) But to also be clear about Kamin, a good liberal, he hasn’t really engaged with those issues except in the most cursory way, which is to cluck mildly and lament how bad it is to gentrify people out of their neighborhoods and then turn the focus back to the buildings.
CHARLIE DULIK GOES TO UTOPIA, THE BRONX
Kazan’s hope that the cooperative model would spark radical collective action came true, if not in the way he expected. It was only in their fight against his organization that the residents of Co-op City began to come together.
MIMI ZEIGER DOESN’T GO HARD CORE
One of the more surprising (and great) moments in the chapter is Gissen’s dissection of architecture and urbanism’s precious flaneur and dérive. That conception of the wandering figure self-alienated from the dictates and economies of the city proves dilettantish when considered through race, age, and ability.
SEAN TATOL TAKES IN EDWARD HOPPER’S NEW YORK
When you look back at it, Nighthawks isn’t as atmospheric as we recall: our memories of a melodramatic haze of smoke and fog are upset by a starkly lit and oddly antiseptic greasy spoon that seems more drained of ambience than suffused with it.
SOPHIE HAIGNEY LONGS FOR SPECIFICITY
As I wandered through the show, I found myself wondering: Was it really New York after all that was so influential, or was New York just the largest city in America, where there was a lot happening?
ANA KARINA ZATARAIN FINDS OPTIMISM AT THE NOGUCHI MUSEUM
Absent from this show but inherently implicit in any review of Mexican modernism is Luis Barragán, who once declared shadows to be “a basic human need.”
ALEX KITNICK FLOUTS PEDAGOGICAL NORMS
If education is closely connected to the idea of norms, then architectural education makes the connection literal. Follow the etymology of the word normal back to its origins and you will arrive at a carpenter’s square, and thus a world of construction, geometry, and making.
CLARE FENTRESS DOES THE MONSTER MASH
These are buildings, after all, that we are no longer allowed to build. We have neither the political will to manifest such robustly social architecture, nor the cheap labor and the blissful ignorance of the consequences of concrete to realize such form.
SAMUEL MEDINA GETS LOST AT A DIFFERENT MALL
This critique neglects the intense fastness people feel toward the things and places that allow them opportunities to exert the measliest sense of control. The driver’s seat is one such place. The mall is another.
ALLISON HEWITT WARD HATES SUBWAY ART
Public art is often touted as a “democratizing” force. This is true only if we believe the demos is a rabble of children.
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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.
To pitch us an article or ask us a question, write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For their support, we would like to thank first of all our subscribers, as well as the Graham Foundation and our issue sponsors, Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, Thomas Phifer, and Stickbulb.