Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

The Art We Must Live With: Ada Louise Huxtable and Architecture Criticism

The second episode of Season 2 of New Angle: Voice brings you a closer look at the life and career of Ada Louise Huxtable, the first architecture critic for a daily newspaper, and the first winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.

General readers are quite accustomed to having their choices in books, films, dance, opera, drama, TV, and music directed and influenced by critics’ opinions. We find our favorite interpreters, trust their judgement, buy books or tickets. But in the concrete jungle of the city, we are captives, we have no choice to ignore what is built by others to house us, for our work places, our transit systems, our public realm. The ubiquity of mediocre architecture dulls the senses, and yet, when architecture achieves greatness it can exalt the human spirit. Ada Louise Huxtable set out to separate the dull from the great. A few architects tried to argue with her. They never won.

Special thanks in this episode to the generous architectural critics: Cathleen McGuigan, Christopher Hawthorne, Julie Iovine, Karrie Jacobs, Christine Cipriani and Paul Goldberger, following the inimitable example set by Ada Louise. Thanks also to architectural historian Meredith Clausen, Wall Street Journal arts editor Eric Gibson, the Huxtable archive team of Stuart and Beverly Denenberg, and from the Getty Center, Maristella Casciato.