Recently I read an article, Why Nicolai Ouroussoff Is Not Good Enough written by Alexandra Lange at the Design Observer.  The article was a critique, ironically, of the New York Times’ architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff.  Two items stood out when I read it.

First was her assessment of Mr. Ouroussoff.

“Ouroussoff has an opinion about design, but his reviews offer not much more than that opinion. His approach — little history, less politics, occasional urbanism — shrinks the critic’s role to commenting only on the appearance of the architecture. He might have been the perfect critic for the boom years, when looks were the selling point, but this formal, global approach seems incongruous in a downturn.”

Second was what makes good design criticism.

Alice Twemlow argued recently on Design Observer that the best design criticism is based on user experience and unpretentious language, and the same standard can be applied to architecture criticism.”

These two insights have kindled a new look for this blog.  It has also inspired a desire to share some thoughts and critiques on architecture from my vantage point (we’ll get into more of that later).  After all, it is my profession and what I spend a majority of my time doing and still studying.  There are many reviewers out there and countless more critics.  Cynicism abounds in this profession.  The goal here is for cynicism to (mostly) take a back seat– working in a small town it has to.  However, the goal is to achieve what Alexandra Lange pines for:  “to know where critics are coming from” and “for a sense that he dwells in our reality and not Airworld.”


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