21 December 2008

ground zero from above

At a party on the top floor of 7 World Trade Center a few weeks back, I managed to snap a photo of the massive construction site below. Seeing the state of affairs laid out before my eyes some fifty stories below, I thought to myself: Wow, we've come a long way; but boy, do we have a lot of work yet to do.

I'll leave you with that, as I escape to the dark woods of the the northern wilderness for the holidays. See you all in 2009. Here's hoping it's a good one.


15 December 2008

donovan to HUD

As you've likely heard by now: Barack Obama has nominated Shaun Donovan, present head of NYC HPD, as his Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. Now I know ShaunDon wasn't on my wishlist of potential HUD nominees [posted in the comments section of one of Nick Kristof's posts from last month), but it should be noted for the record that this Progressive Reactionary did politely suggest hiring an architect to head up HUD—a position unknown to most but that could loosely be defined as supervising the American built environment. And while ShaunDon is not really a practicing architect, he was indeed trained as one, so I suppose that's close enough. [As if my insane suggestion of Michael Sorkin ever had a chance...] The mere fact that he doesn't come from the development side of things, that he has in large part dedicated his career to public investment in housing and urban issues—this alone should ease our nerves, even just a little. Here's hoping that the new HUD chief will heed the call to bring more architects and planners into the fold with regard to housing construction and urban growth.

It's an exciting time, seeing all these cabinet appointments come to light. But my word, what a lot of work there is to be done.

12 December 2008

now this is what i'm talking about

Ada Louise Huxtable valiantly reenters the fray this week with a piece in the Wall Street Journal on the endless 2 Columbus Circle debates. It's fitting that the critical history of 2CC both begins and ends with Huxtable: she is the critic who initially catapulted the original Edward Durell Stone building into infamy in the 1960s with her branding of those "lollipop" columns, and with this article, it is she who has the final word on the building's latest incarnation.

It's also fair to say that this week's piece is nothing less than a critical tour de force, indicting not only the building and it's architects, but also the entire discourse surrounding 2CC. And while I don't entirely agree with her on all the counts (see my thoughts on the matter), you can't help but give credit where credit is due. Huxtable is as ever a critical force to be reckoned with. if there's one thing we probably do agree on, it's that the whole tortured history of this little building—for the moment complete—makes me nostalgic for a time when critics both had something to say and knew how to say it.