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Obituary and Tributes: Noted Architecture Critic Ada Louise Huxtable

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Ada Louise Huxtable, the influential New York City-based architecture critic and winner of the first Pulitzer Prize for criticism, died there on Jan. 7 at age 91 of cancer, according to her attorney.

“She set the standard for architectural criticism in our time,” according to the editors of Architectural Record magazine, which like ENR, is part of the McGraw-Hill Cos.

As a longtime critic for The New York Times and later The Wall Street Journal, Huxtable “wrote penetratingly against the mindset of entitlement that allowed developers to remake cities and suburbs without a strong voice offering an informed countervailing opinion,” according to an article in The Washington Post. She “did not write for theorists. She was accessible in her tone and confident in her opinions, layering into her columns vivid details of a structure down to its doorknobs.”

In an April 24, 2000, article in ENR, Huxtable praised Dutch architect Rem Koolhas for his ''witty and iconoclastic take on the built environment,'' as a juror in the award of the renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize.

But she also was critical of some tall building projects.

Huxtable's printed opposition in 1998 to a planned 2.1-million-sq-ft mixed use project in midtown Manhattan prompted the developer to clam up in providing any further detail on the project, according to ENR in a Jan. 25, 1999, article.

Tall buildings "are reaching the end of the line...they are synonymous with the 20th Century and ...have some impressive architecture," Huxtable told ENR in a Jan. 2, 1986, cover story.

"But they have adversely affected the quality of life. It's my job to blow the whistle."

 

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