Tuesday, January 08, 2013

R.I.P. Ada Louise

I never met Ada Louise Huxtable, though for a brief period we were both writing for the New York Times. She even quoted me in one of her books, and I certainly quoted her in The Malling of America. She was one of its guiding lights. She died this week at the age of 91. Here's her LA Times obit.

Her beat was architecture for the Times, their first real architecture critic, and she was up there with Jane Jacobs and Lewis Mumford in reshaping New York City and how architects and planners thought about cities and how people live in them. She shaped criticism itself as a journalistic pursuit involving reporting, scholarship and taste.

In particular I found her work revelatory on the South Street Seaport in New York, when it was about to host another urban "marketplace" mall built by the Rouse Company, after its successes on the waterfronts of Boston and Baltimore.

At retirement age she instead became the architecture critic for the Wall Street Journal. She also wrote books (I'm footnoted in The Unreal America.) Her influence was highest in the 60s but her work inspired me in the 80s and I'm sure is inspiring others right now. No reason why it won't for a long time to come. May she rest in peace, and her work live on.