Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities

Extraordinary architecture addresses so much more than mere practical considerations. It inspires and provokes while creating a seamless experience of the physical world for its users. It is the rare writer that can frame the discussion of a building in a way that allows the reader to see it with new eyes. Writing About Architecture is a handbook on writing effectively and critically about buildings and cities. Each chapter opens with a reprint of a significant essay written by a renowned architecture critic, followed by a close reading and discussion of the writer’s strategies. Lange offers her own analysis using contemporary examples as well as a checklist of questions at the end of each chapter to help guide the writer.

Includes analysis of critical writings by Ada Louise Huxtable, Lewis Mumford, Herbert Muschamp, Michael Sorkin, Charles Moore, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Jane Jacobs. Architects covered include Marcel Breuer, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Field Operations, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Frederick Law Olmsted, SOM, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright.

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The Dot-Com City: Silicon Valley Urbanism

On their bland campuses, the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook dominate the world, removed from the mess and the prying eyes of the real city. But while their products are discussed endlessly, their urbanism has rarely been. So what does it look like? To date, the Silicon Valley campus has served as a backdrop to many a sun-kissed founder photoshoot, but there is little understanding of the distinctive urban personality that separates the village of Facebook from the town of Google or the truly urban Twitter (which recently decided to move to San Francisco’s notoriously un-gentrifiable Tenderloin). This investigation of the private towns of Silicon Valley examines the tech campus as a typology and seeks to discover what it says about the companies we think we know.

See more: Strelka

Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes

Long before the self-service bin and do-it-yourself dreams of IKEA were a reality, there was a man named Benjamin Thompson. In 1953, he founded Design Research (D/R) in Cambridge, Massacussetts, dubbing it a “general store of good design,” through which he sought to bring quality products into the American home. Marimekko dresses, Niederer glass, Chemex coffee makers and the Blow chair were just a few of the iconic items Thompson introduced to America. A combination of modern and folk aesthetic, D/R became an inspirational showcase for postwar families.

Constructed through scrapbooks, photographs and ephemera, Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes tells the story of D/R and its founder through the eyes of the people who knew Benjamin Thompson best: his wife, staff and customers. Co-authored by his wife — Jane Thompson — and Alexandra Lange, Design Research is an intimate oral history that chronicles one of America’s finest general stores and its pioneering leaders.

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