PRINT November 1987


Weocracy, weography, on PWeS.

AFTER ROBERT STERN'S NOSTALGIC hymn of praise, Pride of Place, a televised avoidance of the critical issues in architecture, the pressure was on for Spiro Kostof s public-television series, America by Design, really to enter architecture, to do more than take us on a tour of the life-styles of the rich and Anglo, which is what Stern did. There was reason to believe Kostof could pull off something decent: he is a gifted historian, and it seemed he could be the one to highlight the connective tissue between our mental and our physical geographies. So what went wrong? Why did such superficial things as Kostof's changes of clothes offer the viewer more heterogeneity than his changes of scene? How did we get from what looked like content to five hours of lines that sounded like ersatz Charles Kuralt, such as “The American house is much more than a house. . . . It is the American dream”; and “

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