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Mark Lamster
Essays | Biography | Master of Shadows | Spalding's World Tour | Contact

The Astrodome and the Challenges of Preservation

If you've been reliant on the national media, there's a good chance you're under the impression that the Astrodome is slated for imminent destruction, if it's not already gone altogether. But the dome is still standing, and there are no clear plans for its future. What happened, and what does it say about modern preservation?

READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)

Squaw Valley: America’s Instant Olympic Village

When the Olympics closed last night, attention focused for the last time (for most of us) on Sochi, the sleepy Russian summer resort that was transformed overnight for the winter games. 

READ MORE | COMMENTS

A Tour of City Hall in the Waning Hours of the Bloomberg Administration

Pictured here is the City Hall desk of Michael Bloomberg, roughly 60 hours before the conclusion of his twelve year term as the Mayor of the City of New York. As the box suggests, the departure process has already begun. You can approve of his performance or you can lament it, but there is little question he has been an effective manager, working from this distinctly unceremonial open-plan space, known as the "bullpen."

READ MORE | COMMENTS

Lunch with the Critics: Fourth-Annual Year-End Awards

Like the Nieman Marcus catalog, the Rockettes, and Mannheim Steamroller, the Lunch With The Critics Year-End Awards has become a holiday tradition, beloved and hotly anticipated. Our intrepid critics, Alexandra Lange and Mark Lamster, celebrate (and castigate) the best and worst architecture and design of 2013.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (5)

On the Line with God’s Tailor

I'm not much of a Biblical scholar, but I recently had the pleasure to contribute a short essay to the collection Unscrolled: 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah, edited by that redoubtable Man in Blazer, Roger Bennett. The conceit: take up a portion of the Torah, and reinterpet it in the manner of your choosing. Aimee Bender,  A.J. Jacobs, Sam Lipsyte, and Adam Mansbach were among the luminaries to take the bait. And yours truly, of course.

READ MORE | COMMENTS

Can the Doomed Astrodome Save Modernism?

Earlier this week, Houston voters declined to fund a bond initiative to renovate the Astrodome, meaning the landmark bubble known as the Eighth Wonder of the World is likely to be demolished. It's a bitter pill. The historical significance of the building as the first multipurpose domed stadium is considerable, and its various innovations are remarkable testaments to the outsized, can-do spirit that defined America generally and Texas in particular at midcentury. Here was a building that befitted a city and a nation shooting men into space.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (5)

Mark Lamster on Complaining

Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. On today's episode of Insights Per Minute, Mark contemplates the importance of complaining.

READ MORE | COMMENTS

High Net Space: The New International Style

In a now classic post on bldgblog, Geoff Manaugh coined the term "Nakatomi Space," a reference to the action film Die Hard, in which supercop John McLain navigates a fictional L.A. skyscraper (the Nakatomi Building) through its infrastructure, suggesting an alternate and largely invisible urban environment that we rarely think about.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)

Architecture's Proto-Blogger

I began teaching a course in architecture writing last week, an occassion that forced me to think about critics and writers I might recommend as exemplary. The usual suspects naturally came to mind (Lewis Mumford, Ada Louise Huxtable, etc.) but I couldn't quite figure out where to begin until I came across a copy of G. E. Kidder Smith's Source Book of American Architecture, a compendium published by Princeton Architectural Press in my first years working there.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (1)

A Coda on Party Wall

"If you follow art and can't stomach a certain level of pretentiousness, you'll forever be stuck in the shallow end of the pool." This nugget of wisdom comes from New York Times book critic Dwight Garner, from a review of Draw It With Your Eyes Closed, a collection of projects from Paper Monument, the art-centric offshoot of the literary magazine N+1. I've found it applies equally to the field of architecture.

READ MORE | COMMENTS (2)
Mark Lamster is the architecture critic of the Dallas Morning News and a professor at the University of Texas at Arlington School of Architecture. A contributing editor to Architectural Review, he is currently at work on his third book, a biography of the late architect Philip Johnson. Follow: @marklamster.


Recent Book


Master of Shadows
Master of Shadows: The Secret Diplomatic Career of the Painter Peter Paul Rubens
Mark Lamster
Nan A. Talese, 2009
More >>


Design Observer Archive


2013
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Other Essays


Reviews

The AIA Guide to NYC
Architect, June 2, 2010

Leo and His Circle
Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2010

Art of the Steal
Architect's Newspaper, February 26, 2010

Hearts of the City
Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2010

The Goldberger Standard
I.D.

Bottom of the Ninth
Los Angeles Times, June 15, 2009

A Terrible Splendor
Bookforum, May 2009

The New West
Print, December 2008

The Great Delusion
Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2008

Makers of Modern Architecture
I.D., February 07, 2008

The Architecture of Happiness
I.D., February 07, 2008

Architecture of the Absurd
Los Angeles Times, December 23, 2007

Letters of Jackie Robinson
Los Angeles Times, September 30, 2007

Edward Tufte's Beautiful Evidence
I.D., November 2006

Baseball Before We Knew It
New York Times, April 10, 2005

Criticism/Features/Profiles

Small Scale, Big Change
Architectural Review, October 25, 2010

Center of Controversy
Architectural Review, September 22, 2010

The Eighty Years War in Ninety Minutes
Mediaite, July 10th, 2010

The Virtues & Perils of Design Thinking
Architect, July 8, 2010

Last Stop on the Way to Ellis Island
Wall Street Journal, June 25, 2010

The Architect 50: #1 SOM
Architect, April 28, 2010

A Clean Slate
Dwell, March 2010

When Artists "Borrow"
Los Angeles Times, February 28, 2010

The Aughts in Architecture & Design
Mediaite, December 11th, 2009

Lessons on the Art of Diplomacy
Huffington Post, October 21, 2009

The Art of Diplomacy
Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2009

What Barack Obama Can Learn from Peter Paul Rubens
Mediaite, October 10th, 2009

Next Door, New York
Print, October 2009

Ron Arad at MoMA
I.D., September 21, 2009

Play Ball
Metropolis, July 22, 2009

Bleacher Bummers
I.D., April 08, 2009

Bombs Away: A New Home for the Jets
I.D., February 2009

Clean & Clear: Chris Hacker Remakes J&J
I.D., April 22, 2008

Reflections on the Baseball Encyclopedia
Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2008

The End of the Yankees Dynasty?
Slate, October 9, 2007

Taser's New Stunner
I.D./Business Week, July 9, 2007

Seven Days in Frankfurt
Metropolis, February 2001




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MARK LAMSTER: RECOMMENDED BOOKS


Modern Views
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Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout
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Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design
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Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline
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James Frazer Stirling: Modernism in Crisis
Anthony Vidler

Marina City: Bertrand Goldberg's Urban Vision
Igor Marjanovic and Katerina Rüedi Ray

The AIA Guide to New York City
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Lasting Yankee Stadium Memories
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Design Research
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