Nicolai Ourousoff, the architecture critic (or something) for the New York Times, has lately been letting out evidence of what a lightweight polywanker he really is. The most recent evidence that he has no idea what is going on in the architecture profession came in a reflection on the death of Charles Gwathmey, in which he lamented the lack of heroes in the New York architecture scene. First off, it’s ludicrous to whine about New York losing its hegemony over the design field, like rich white men whining about discrimination. Secondly, it shows ignorance of the many cutting-edge practices in New York he claims do not exist or otherwise do not count. Finally, it’s backwards to wax nostalgic over the handful of heroes whose primary accomplishment was to separate formal Modernism from its revolutionary social program.
Luckily, цarьchitect favoriteAndrew Bernheimer, defended fair Manhattan’s honor. Bernheimer mentions a number of practices that perfectly suit Ourousoff’s criteria, except that the architects have remained committed to teaching and social issues, in addition to formal investigation and self-promotion. This is just basic research he could do – he doesn’t even mention Diller Scofidio + Renfro, even as they drive the East Coast architecture scene. Besides, it sounds like Ourousoff is simply looking for new autonomous heroes to worship, rather than supporting teams of architects that manage to maintain their individuality while also accepting responsibility for the environment, the public, and the context. After all, the New York Five made their careers through wealthy patrons with large, auto-centric houses. The future cannot sustain those kinds of heroes. That period is over.
Just fire the kid already, he won’t learn unless he fails.
Today, Streetsblog followed the New York Times in running an astonishing expose on the newest cartel to move in. Unlike most cartels, these guys have both power and political influence in their vast network:
Through a complex network spanning at least four continents, [Gil] Peñalosa funnels innovations from one city to the next. Formerly the parks commissioner of Bogotá, Colombia — where his brother, Enrique, is known as the godfather of “Bus Rapid Transit” — Peñalosa is the mastermind behind the “Mexico City hop,” an intellectual property route whereby Latin American BRT cartels reach massive North American markets with an unslakeable thirst for surface transit improvements.
OK. Obvious parody. Yet when you read the New York Times article on the subject, you can see why satire can come so easily:
In the process, she has run up a travel bill of about $35,000, according to city records. And in some cases, Ms. Sadik-Khan has allowed outsiders, including transportation advocacy groups, to help foot the bill.
So, yes, she did what any professional of a certain caliber does, visiting example projects and speaking at conventions. Sadik-Khan is a professional, not a politician, so issues of working with advocacy groups and going to conferences are likewise professional. Admittedly, the Times is just reporting on something they found, but the conspiratorial tone over $470 airline flights and a total expense less than the Mayor’s monthly transportation costs is simply whacked. The Times has been playing to the highway set so desperately that they’ve lost credibility. Decent reporting, I suppose, but the creeping editorial is pathetic.