Herbert Muschamp

  • Mies van der Rohe and Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography.

    Mies van der Rohe

    By David Spaeth, wth preface by Kenneth Frampton, New York: Rizzoli, 204 pp. 235 black and white illustrations.

    Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography

    By Franz Schulze (in association with the Mies van der Rohe Archive of the Museum of Modern Art), Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 384 pp., 219 black and white illustrations..

    CRISP, CONCISE, AND professionally thorough, David Spaeth’s illustrated survey goes over the contours of Mies van der Rohe’s career like a valet brushing off a man in a pinstripe suit; the effect is fresh, even though the ideas have worn

  • SCIENCE FICTION, WESTERNS, ODYSSEYS, ROMANCE, HEADLINES, OBITS. Narrative architects design the city as it lives.

    “A CITY CANNOT BE a work of art”: Jane Jacobs insisted in her influential 1961 book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. At a time when “art” was nearly synonymous with formal abstraction, this was the sharpest possible put-down of the Modern architect’s efforts to impose diagrammatic unity upon urban diversity. “Radiant Garden City Beautiful” was Jacobs’ contemptuous term for these efforts, which she considered even more instrumental than the automobile in hastening the central city’s decline.

    To the architect, the importance of Jacob’s message lay in the radical idea that the city

  • Richard Haas

    To a summit high in the Rockies they ascend with halting gait each summer solstice, the veteran druids of the International Design Conference in Aspen, rallying once again to release the stale verities of Good Design into the pure Colorado air. The choice of Richard Haas as token artist to illustrate the theme of this year’s conference—“Illusion is Truth: Perception as the Basis for Design”—appeared a typically literal-minded instance of Aspen’s traditional policy not to overtax the mental stamina of the senior conferees. However, this small exhibition of Haas’ work (models, maquettes, and

  • Architects take leave of their senses; Arata Isozaki takes his along.

    FORTY YEARS AGO, as the vigor of early Modern architecture was subsiding into the anemia of the International Style, the historian John Summerson offered a diagnosis and a prescription still useful today. The Modern architect, Summerson wrote, has

    taken a look at the scene around him and then become obsessed with the importance not of architecture, but of the relation of architecture to other things. . . . He has walked out of himself, rather like a second personality is seen to walk out of the first in a psychological film. He has . . . left the first personality at the drawing board and taken

  • Architecture without architecture critics: ideal for the architects.

    IT IS RARE TO HEAR complaints about the press from those whom the press treats nicely. and tempting to attribute self-serving motives to those who do make a fuss. But not all the complaints now widely voiced about the state of architectural criticism arise from the frustrated vanity of architects who receive less extensive or less sympathetic coverage than they feel their work deserves. Indeed, one of the major complaints heard today arises from the recognition of the dangers implicit in the willingness of the architectural press to conduct itself as a form of vanity publishing. This complaint