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Alexandra Lange
Essays | Biography | Books | Contact

Archive: July 2010


On DO: Lunch with the Critics

Please weigh in on Mark Lamster and my new Design Observer feature, "Lunch with the Critics," in which we observe the new Lincoln Center.

READ MORE | COMMENTS

Culture War Begins at Home

I got this polite but slightly alarming email in response to my Opinionator piece "Easier Living, By Design," on the influence of Mary and Russel Wright.



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Lunch with the Critics: The New Lincoln Center

Herewith we introduce a new feature on Design Observer, "Lunch with the Critics," in which Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster will visit a noteworthy design project (a building, an exhibition, a what-have-you) and discuss its merits over a light meal.

The series begins with the major renovation work at Lincoln Center undertaken by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (10)

Archpaper Review: Our Cities Ourselves

Does one size fit all, even when it is oh-so-hot bikes and buses? I wonder, in The Architect’s Newspaper, about the solutions proposed in the Center for Architecture’s Our Cities Ourselves.

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NYT Opinionator: Easier Living Through Design

The easier living the Wrights described — both in the book and their lines of domestic products — sounds very familiar today, with buffet suppers, one-pot meals, portable seating and lots of double-duty storage. But the Wrights’ work was revolutionary at the time: not only did they simplify our plates and mugs, chairs and cabinets, but they simplified the way we were to live and work in our homes.

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Better Living by Design

In 1950, industrial designers Mary and Russel Wright published the Guide to Easier Living, a handbook for the modern home intended to liberate women from old-fashioned formal entertaining and families from old-fashioned and high-maintenance furniture.

READ MORE | COMMENTS

Culture Shed: Where’s the Neighborhood?

CultureGrrl offers a critique of the NEA grant for Culture Shed, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group design for a Kunsthalle with retractable roofs over at Hudson Yards.

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Hung Ceilings: Mystery Solved

Mark Lamster thought that was the Daily News Building behind Don, and I had to agree. Through the wonders of Google maps, I see 300 East 42nd Street, built in 1963 and designed by William Lescazeis a glass curtain-wall building directly across the street.

READ MORE | COMMENTS

Hung Ceilings

Mad Men returneth! I am as excited as the next design geek, but must say all of the preview coverage has been deeply dispiriting.

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Time to Move On

A very nice house in Montauk embodies the most recent cliches in architecture: floating staircases, pocket doors, and glass floors.

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Up in the Air

For spires in New York, height doesn’t matter, style does. It’s ironic that the Westin Times Square, which is one of the ugliest buildings in New York, actually managed to do what its neighbors do not: create a distinctive top.

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Heavens

I finally managed to visit back-to-back versions of my idea of heaven: A Single Man — Tom Ford’s tribute to 1960s style — and Dia:Beacon

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Out of Love with Piano

Reading Martin Filler’s review of Renzo Piano’s proposed addition to the Kimbell Museum in Fort Worth, considered Louis Kahn’s masterpiece, and one of the museums to beat worldwide, I was struck again by how Piano’s critical reception seems to have curdled.

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Below Black Rock

While the plaza around the CBS Building in Manhattan has always seemed perverse, it is now made worse with the addition of a bank.

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The Personality of Parks

Until Pier 6 at Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks. But Pier 6 feels like the city, not a neighborhood.

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Fix the Car Seat

Having just returned from a vacation where the logistics of the car seat were a primary part of trip planning, I have a plea on behalf of all parents, and a challenge for industrial and car designers: FIX THE CAR SEAT.

READ MORE | COMMENTS

Whatever Happened to Architecture Critique?

Before 2008, the American critical field was populated by a short list of critics that were widely read. That was then, this is now. I can write all the opinions I want on my blog, but unless people more famous and influential than I link, tweet, praise and otherwise disseminate my critique, I will only be talking to my friends.

READ MORE | COMMENTS
Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect's Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.


Recent Book



Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities
Alexandra Lange
Princeton Architectural Press, 2012
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Design Matters Interview


Alexandra Lange and Jane Thompson

In this podcast interview with Debbie Millman, Alexandra Lange and Jane Thompson discuss their new book, the store Design Research, creating the power of imagination, Marimekko, Sir Lady Jane and Benjamin Thompson.

Other Essays


"We need more museums that let us relax into knowledge"
dezeen, March 27, 2014

Critics roundtable on Shigeru Ban, 2014 Pritzker winner
Architect, March 25, 2014

Designing 'Catching Fire'
The Atlantic, December 3, 2013

Review: Dave Eggers's 'The Circle'
Medium, November 13, 2013

The Demolition of Prentice Hospital and Penn Station
Architect, October 31, 2013

Kickstarter Urbanism: Why Building A Park Takes More Than Crowdfunding
Gizmodo, September 16, 2013

Architecture's Lean In Moment
Metropolis, July 2013

Is Cake Art?
Medium, July 1, 2013

Light and Space and Curves
Architect, June 26, 2013

Le Corbusier at MoMA
New Yorker blog, June 18, 2013

Why Wooden Toys?
New Yorker blog, May 30, 2013

Donald Judd's House
New Yorker blog, May 13, 2013

Dreams Built and Broken: On Ada Louise Huxtable
The Nation, May 6, 2013

Just Sew It
Medium, May 1, 2013

Questions for a Teenage Furniture Dealer
New York Times, April 18, 2013

How To Make A Great Kids' App
The New Yorker blog, April 4, 2013

Passive Voice
Dwell, April 2013

MetaMuseum Tumblr
Launched March 5, 2013

Plain or Fancy?
New Yorker blog, March 4, 2013

It's Toasted: Modernity and 'Downton Abbey'
New Yorker blog, January 21, 2013

Consider the Fork, Very Carefully
New Yorker blog, November 29, 2012

'Wreck-It Ralph' Is a Sweet, Animated Tale About ... Urban Planning?
The Atlantic blog, November 27, 2012

A Wide-Angle Lens on the Midcentury American Home
New York Times, November 15, 2012

The Woman Who Invented the Kitchen
Slate, October 25, 2012

Cornell's Silicon Island
New Yorker blog, October 15, 2012

Fear of Fun: A History of Modernist Design for Children
Los Angeles Review of Books, October 6, 2012

Home Sweet Architectural Masterpiece
New York Times, October 4, 2012

What Comes Second: The Lesson of the Barclays Center
The New Yorker blog, September 19, 2012

DIY Magazines
Domus, September 2012

AD Innovator: Johnston Marklee
Architectural Digest, September 2012

Don't Put A Bird On It: Saving "Craft" from Cuteness
The New Yorker blog, August 1, 2012

A Chair for All Seasons
Domus, July/August 2012

Serious Play | Century of the Child
T Magazine, July 2012

A Playground That Parents Won't Come to Despise
The New Yorker blog, July 6, 2012

Girl Talk: On Architect Barbie
Dwell, July/August 2012

Pinterest: Fear of the "Female Ghetto"
The New Yorker blog, June 13, 2012

The Dot-Com City: Silicon Valley Urbanism
Strelka Press, June 2012

Living In LEGO City
Print, June 2012

Edith Wharton's Houses
The New Yorker blog, May 23, 2012

An Interview with Murray Moss
Disegno No. 2, Spring/Summer 2012

Book Review: 'Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader'
Architectural Record, May 2012

Pedro E. Guerrero on Being Inspired by the Masters
The New York Times, April 4, 2012

Designing 'The Hunger Games'
The Atlantic, April 2, 2012

An Anatomy of Uncriticism
Print, February 2012

I Hate My Coffemaker
GourmetLive, November 30, 2011

A Serving of Style
GourmetLive, November 16, 2011

Table Dressing
T Magazine, November 6, 2011

Paper Tiger
Architect's Newspaper, November 2, 2011

Commentary: The World of Online Interiors
Architectural Record, October 2011

Elegant Solution
Metropolis Magazine, September 2011

The Search for the Perfect Fork
GourmetLive, Augustt 31, 2011

“Why’s This So Good?” No. 9: Herbert Muschamp builds a metaphor
Nieman Storyboard, Augustt 23, 2011

Dieter Rams: Less But Better
Architect's Newspaper, July 6, 2011

Going Back Outside (Again)
Metropolis Magazine, June 2011

Why Are Car Seats So Poorly Designed?
GOOD, May 27, 2011

High Fiber
T: The New York Times Design Magazine, May 1, 2011

Lake Effect
Architectural Digest, April 2011

A House Grows in Brooklyn 2011
Dwell, March 2011

Whatever Happened to the Dinner Party?
GourmetLive, February 10, 2011

The Moms Aren't Wrong
GOOD, February 1, 2011

What Next?: Criticism
Architectural Record, January 2011

Sidewalk Sale
New City Reader, November 2010

The Opulent Modernism of Warren Platner
Dwell, November 2010

The Architecture of Food
GourmetLive, October 28, 2010

Harry Weese's Pieces
Architect's Newspaper, October 22, 2010

People in Glass Houses
Financial Times Weekend, October 15, 2010

Hands Off the Icons
Dwell, October 2010

The Zootopian
T Magazine, September 30, 2010

If These Walls Could Talk
New York Times Opinionator, September 13, 2010

What's Cooking in Kitchen Design
New York Times Opinionator, August 27, 2010

Easier Living, By Design
New York Times Opinionator, July 23, 2010

Blue Sky Thinking
Metropolis Magazine, June 16, 2010

The Visceralist
Metropolis Magazine, May 12, 2010

Hole Earth Catalog
NYT Op-Ed, March 21, 2010

As the Tide Turns
Architect's Newspaper, February 4, 2010

Hands-On: The Gropius Touch
The Moment, January 20, 2010

Original Gossip Girls
New York Magazine, November 1, 2009

Fantasy Island
New York Magazine, May 28, 2007

The Next White
New York Magazine, May 13, 2007

Extending the Legacy
Metropolis Magazine, November 8, 2006

Once a Teardown, a Modernist Gem Is Reborn
The New York Times, November 2, 2006

Family Comes First
Metropolis Magazine, July 17, 2006

Building the (New) New York
New York Magazine, May 28, 2006

No Laughing Matter
Metropolis, January 2006

Brand Central Station
Metropolis, November 2005

This New House
New York Magazine, May 21, 2005

The Manhattanization of Brooklyn
New York Magazine, May 23, 2004





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ALEXANDRA LANGE: RECOMMENDED BOOKS


Above the Pavement — the Farm!
Amale Andraos & Dan Wood

America's Kitchens
Nancy Carlisle & Melinda Talbot Nasardinov

Guide to Easier Living
Mary & Russel Wright

A Pattern Language
Christopher Alexander

Exquisite Corpse
Michael Sorkin

The Spoils of Poynton
Henry James