Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Fifth-Annual Year-End Awards

Five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, and two critics kvetching. What would the holidays season be without some lumps of coal? For the fifth consecutive year, prodigal contributing editors Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster return to these robin’s egg blue pages to pick the best (and) worst of this year’s architecture and design. No middle fingers, we promise.

Jabba the Hut Award for Sensitive Urban Design: To George Lucas, for thinking he can dock that facocta Space Mountain on Chicago’s Lake Michigan. PS: Hey George, no design approvals until you release the original Star Wars on DVD without your “fixes.”

Most Unexpected Blobmeister: Peter Zumthor, whose hovering black form for LACMA continues to provoke headscratching.

Top Jargon of 2014: “tactical urbanism,” now enshrined in a MoMA exhibition, and close colleagues “pop-up urbanism” and “bottom-up urbanism.” We’re dangerously close to enshrining the small moves as we once did the big plans.



Best Architecture Money Can Buy Award: Tadao Ando’s new campus for the Clark Art Institute, a pristine if pricey exercise in museum building, with assists from Reed Hilderbrand and Annabelle Selldorf.



Most Architecture Money Can Buy Award: Frank Gehry does his thing in Paris, now with lots of glass.

Bringing Brutalism Back Award: David Adjaye’s Sugar Hill tower, in Harlem. A kinder, gentler brutalism. 



Brutal Rejection of Brutalism Award: The Whitney departs its brooding, beautiful bastion by Marcel Breuer to hang out with Jean-Ralphio and his ilk in the Meatpacking District. Sigh.

First Brutalism, Best Brutalism Award: To Timothy Rohan’s long-in-the-writing (but couldn’t be more timely) The Architecture of Paul Rudolph. The rare monograph that leaves you wanting more—and we do wish there were more photos.

Continues: Design Observer