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Alexandra Lange
Essays | Biography | Books | Contact

Archive: August 2010


Lunch with the Critics: Park51 and 15 Penn Plaza

In my second critical lunch with Mark Lamster, in the creepy climes of the Hotel Pennsylvania, we discuss the urbanism, politics and skyline posturing of Park51 and 15 Penn Plaza.

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Lunch with the Critics: Park51 & 15 Penn

For this second installment of Lunch with the Critics, Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange traveled to midtown to visit the Hotel Pennsylvania, across from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden on Seventh Avenue.

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NYT Opinionator: What’s Cooking in Kitchen Design?

In Mad Men, Betty Draper has wall ovens and a stove-top island, both desirable today; the differences are the brown plaid wallpaper and cabinets made from dowdy knotted pine.

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What's Cooking in Kitchen Design?

Born in Frankfurt, time-saving consumer technology like the microwave and the fridge-freezer combo broke down the barrier between the kitchen and the living room. By the 1960s, the American kitchen had become the social epicenter of the house, as exemplified in AMC's Mad Men.

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The War at Home

My brother Jeremy M. Lange is a photojournalist who works for the Independent, in Durham, NC, and also strings for the Times. He has spent the last several years working on a series, The War at Home, whose title is fairly self-explanatory. North Carolina is a state with a huge military presence, and he has been able to photograph a number of funerals, with family permission every time.

This week, selections from his series are being featured on BagNews, in their Originals section, along with discussion about how we look at news photography

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This is a Terrible Poster

I saw the poster for the Facebook movie, The Social Network, at the Bergen Street station yesterday. And all I could think was, This is a terrible poster. Now I can’t find the subway version online (camera phone FAIL), but mentally replace the text above with the three words Punk, Billionaire, Genius. And take away the cute Facebook sidebar.

Crypto-Kruger typography, with lightweight Futura in a justified block.

“Punk”? Who called Mark Zuckerberg a punk?

Who’s afraid of sweet Jesse Eisenberg?

I understand I am supposed to be wowed by the contrast between his downy face and the words Punk Billionaire Genius but what non-modelesque young man gets a billboard of his face nowadays who isn’t an upstart genius online billionaire? And maybe it’s my glasses, but I found it impossible to focus on the face and the type at the same time

READ MORE | COMMENTS (1)

The Language of "Kids Are All Right"

Finally escaped my house for an evening Saturday night and saw The Kids Are All Right. Which I loved. The dinner table conversations were right on. The acting was great. I loved seeing Julianne Moore’s freckles and Annette Bening’s wrinkles. And the language — of therapy, of cool-kid professions, even of landscape design — was a 2010 time capsule. The decor was nice too.

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D/R, Back in the Boston Globe

Robert Campbell, the Boston Globe’s architecture critic, takes a look at Design Research: The Store That Brought Modern Living to American Homes and declares that Cambridge lived the modern life first.

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The Imperfect Imperfectionists

Last week I felt disgusted with myself for becoming one of those parents who no longer reads so I bought Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionistsat Book Court. No less than Christopher Buckley, on the front page

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On DO: When Shopping Was Sociable

What do Design Research, the Apple stores and the Brooklyn Flea have in common? D/R’s founder, architect Benjamin Thompson, wanted to turn shopping into less of a chore, more of a creative enterprise.

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When Shopping Was Sociable

Design Research closed its doors 31 years ago. Baby boomers remember the store like it was yesterday. D/R was where they bought their Marimekko dresses, the minute they realized a girdle was no longer required. D/R was where they touched the Kaj Franck china, buying one place-setting at a time for first apartments in Cambridge or San Francisco or New York.

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Modern Houses and Doomed P.M.s

In Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer Ewan McGregor sleuths instead of writes.

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Damned Icons

Terminal 3 sits there, empty, next to JetBlue’s so-so Terminal 5, as an object lesson about how preservation and redevelopment have to operate in tandem. TWA is not deteriorating — at least I don’t think so — since the last year was spent in asbestos abatement, and its iconicity, famous architect and landmark status should give it security.

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Simple Pleasures

In all these new parks, I feel like I am searching for atmosphere, a designed quality above and beyond the ordinary spaces for children, and I am not finding it.

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Mid-C Decor Striptease

Don’t you love that Matthew Weiner is now teasing us — on Mad Men, of course, what else — with period decor? What was last night’s episode, for design types, but a long, slow journey toward what promised to be the big reveal: Acapulco, New Year’s Eve, 1964.

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


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Guide to Easier Living
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Exquisite Corpse
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