Building Up And Tearing Down

by | 23. Aug 2012


Building Up and Tearing Down
Reflections on the Age of Architecture
goldberger_1.jpgPhoto courtesy the Monacelli Press 

Architecture always connects to something; it is never a thing onto itself.
/Paul Goldberger

Paul Goldberger’s keen observations and sharp wit have made him one of the most insightful, passionate, and wide-ranging architectural voices of our time. This collection of fifty-seven essays is a comprehensive and intelligent account of the best – and worst – of contemporary architecture around the globe.

Buildings do not just happen; they are the products of a peculiar combination of artistic vision, money, political wherewithal, and engineering skill. To the extend to which it is possible to take note of the process by which buildings happen, I do, not to excuse the results – no critic should ever do that – but to place the building within a context that enhances its meaning.
/Paul Goldberger

The essays cover a broad range of architectural and urban issues, buildings, architects, and cities and are organized in thematic sections: Buildings that Matter, Places and People, New York, Present and Past, Museums, and Ways of Living. Goldberger profiles places from Havana to Beijing and people from Louis Kahn to Charles and Ray Eames. A considerable portion comes from his tenure as architecture critic of The New Yorker, as well as from his work for the New York Times and Metropolis.

Buildings that Matter: Good Vibrations

goldberger_2.jpgPhoto courtesy FOGA

The outside of Disney Hall lifts the spirits of those who see it from the sidewalk or, this being Los Angeles, from the windows of their cars, and the inside is equally inspiring. The auditorium is the finest interior Gehry has ever made.
The New Yorker, September 29, 2003

Buildings that Matter: High-Tech Bibliophilia

goldberger_3.jpgPhoto: Robert Polidori

The Seattle Public Library is the most important new library to be built in generations, and the most exhilarating. Rem Koolhaas has always been a better architect than social critic, the Seattle Public Library conveys a sense of the possibility, even the urgency, of public space in the center of the city.
The New Yorker, May 24, 2004

Buildings that Matter: Seductive Skins

goldberger_4.jpgPhoto: Photo Thomas Mayer

Herzog and de Meuron use their seductive skins to lure us into their architecture. The facade of the de Young Museum in San Francisco is so dazzling that you expect the building to be an empty showpiece; yet it’s interior is useful and intelligent.
The New Yorker, March 20, 2006

Places and People: Las Vegas
Las Vegas was built on the premise that the degree to which people loosen their wallets is in direct proportion to the amount of fantasy that is offered to them.
The New Yorker, September 14, 1998

Places and People: Beijing
In Beijing the latest trend is architecture that will force the world to pay attention, and the result is a striking, unmistakably twenty-first-century city, combining explosive, relentless development with a fondness for the avant-garde.
The New Yorker, June 30, 2008

Places and People: The Eames Team
Almost everything the Eameses did broke new ground. Their house overlooking the ocean in pacific palisades in California, which was constructed out of factory-made steel-and-glass parts, anticipated the high-tech fashion in architecture by a quarter of a century.
The New Yorker, May 24, 1999

New York: Busy Buildings
When you try to fix an image in your head of any of the skyscrapers that have just been built or are going up around Times Square, it doesn’t hold. There isn’t a single clear shape that you can remember.
The New Yorker, September 4, 2000

New York: Dior’s New House

goldberger_5.jpgPhoto: Robert Polidori

The LVMH building has a flat top and a fairly straight forward street floor. The facade itself, however, is anything but flat. Between the straight lines at the bottom and the top, Christian de Portzamparc has crafted an angular, faceted composition of great complexity.
The New Yorker, January 31, 2000

New York: Triangulation

goldberger_6.jpgPhoto: Robert Polidori

As with all Norman Foster designs, the Hearst Tower is sleek, refined, and filled with new technology. It looks nothing like the Jazz Age confection on which it sits. The addition is sheathed in glass and stainless steel – a shiny missile shooting out of Urban’s stone launching pad.
The New Yorker, December 19, 2005

Present and Past: Requiem

goldberger_7.jpgPhoto: Robert Polidori

Great memorials use abstraction to engender feelings of peace and awe. The Oklahoma City memorial is most effective, I find, when it is viewed as a series of abstract shapes – the monumental gateways, the glowing cubes at night – although for a lot of people it is the very chair-ness of the chairs that is powerful.
The New Yorker, March 2, 1998

Among the 14 essays included in Museums are The People’s Getty, Baubourg Grows up, Bowery Dreams, Molto Piano and Art Houses.

The last section, Ways of Living, includes essays on Cell Phone Life, Design and the Mass Market, and New Residential Architecture.