Ada Louise Huxtable

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Ada Louise Huxtable (Lynn Gilbert 1976) Ada Louise Huxtable 1976 (c)Lynn Gilbert.jpg
Ada Louise Huxtable (Lynn Gilbert 1976)

Ada Louise Huxtable (née Landman; March 14, 1921 – January 7, 2013) was an architecture critic and writer on architecture. In 1970 she was awarded the first ever Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger, also a Pulitzer Prize-winner (1984) for architectural criticism, said in 1996: "Before Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture was not a part of the public dialogue." [1] "She was a great lover of cities, a great preservationist and the central planet around which every other critic revolved," said architect Robert A. M. Stern, dean of the Yale University School of Architecture. [2]

Pulitzer Prize for Criticism Subclass of an Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize for Criticism has been presented since 1970 to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated 'distinguished criticism'. Recipients of the award are chosen by an independent board and officially administered by Columbia University. The Pulitzer Committee issues an official citation explaining the reasons for the award.

Paul Goldberger is an American architectural critic and educator, and a Contributing Editor for Vanity Fair magazine. From 1997 to 2011 he was the Architecture Critic for The New Yorker where he wrote the magazine's celebrated "Sky Line" column. He also holds the Joseph Urban Chair in Design and Architecture at The New School in New York City. He was formerly Dean of the Parsons School of Design, a division of The New School. The Huffington Post has said that he is "arguably the leading figure in architecture criticism".

Robert A. M. Stern

Robert Arthur Morton Stern, usually credited as Robert A. M. Stern, is a New York based architect, professor, and author. He is the founding partner of the architecture firm, Robert A.M. Stern Architects, also known as RAMSA. From 1998 to 2016, he was the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture.


The concourse in 1962 of Penn Station, two years before demolition. "Not that Penn Station is the Parthenon," Ada Louise Huxtable wrote, "but it might as well be because we can never again afford a nine-acre structure of superbly detailed travertine, any more than we could build one of solid gold. It is a monument to the lost art of magnificent construction, other values aside." NYP LOC5.jpg
The concourse in 1962 of Penn Station, two years before demolition. "Not that Penn Station is the Parthenon," Ada Louise Huxtable wrote, "but it might as well be because we can never again afford a nine-acre structure of superbly detailed travertine, any more than we could build one of solid gold. It is a monument to the lost art of magnificent construction, other values aside."

Early life

Huxtable was born and died in New York City. She went to Hunter College in 1941 and after her graduation she studied architectural history at New York University 's Institute of Fine Arts. Her father, the physician Michael Landman, was co-author (with his brother, Rabbi Isaac Landman) of the play A Man of Honor. Ada Louise Landman received an A. B. (magna cum laude) from Hunter College, CUNY in 1941.

Isaac Landman was an American Reform rabbi, author and anti-Zionist activist. He was editor of the ten volume Universal Jewish Encyclopedia.

Hunter College One of the constituent colleges of the City University of New York, an American public university

Hunter College is one of the constituent colleges of the City University of New York, an American public university. It is located in the Lenox Hill neighborhood of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. The college offers studies in more than one hundred undergraduate and postgraduate fields across five schools. It also administers Hunter College High School and Hunter College Elementary School.

City University of New York Public university system in New York City

The City University of New York is the public university system of New York City. It is the largest urban university system in the United States. CUNY was founded in 1961 and comprises 26 campuses: eleven senior colleges, seven community colleges, one undergraduate honors college, and seven post-graduate institutions. The university enrolls more than 275,000 students, and counts thirteen Nobel Prize winners and twenty-four MacArthur Fellows among its alumni.

In 1942, she married industrial designer L. Garth Huxtable, and continued graduate study at New York University from 1942 to 1950. From 1950 to 1951 she spent one year in Italy on a scholarship of the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission.

Industrial design use of art and science to improve the aesthetics and usability of a product

Industrial design is a process of design applied to products that are to be manufactured through techniques of mass production. Its key characteristic is that design is separated from manufacture: the creative act of determining and defining a product's form and features takes place in advance of the physical act of making a product, which consists purely of repeated, often automated, replication. This distinguishes industrial design from craft-based design, where the form of the product is determined by the product's creator at the time of its creation.

New York University private research university in New York, NY, United States

New York University (NYU) is a private research university based in New York City. Founded in 1831, NYU's historical campus is in Greenwich Village, Lower Manhattan. NYU also has degree-granting campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai, and academic centers in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Sydney, Tel Aviv, and Washington, D.C.

The U.S.- Italy Fulbright Commission is a bi-national, non-profit organization promoting the opportunities for study, research, and teaching in Italy and the United States. The commission acts as executor of the Fulbright Program to and from Italy. Since 1948, the commission has fostered mutual cultural understanding through educational exchange of persons, knowledge, and skills. The commission offers competitive, merit-based grants for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.


She served as Curatorial Assistant for Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1946 to 1950. She received a Fulbright Scholarship which gave her the opportunity to travel Italy and do research about Italian architecture and engineering. Giving this opportunity, she left MoMa. In 1958, she also received a Guggenheim Fellowship to research on the structural and design advances of American architecture. She was a contributing editor to Progressive Architecture and Art in America from 1950 to 1963 before being named the first architecture critic at The New York Times , a post she held from 1963 to 1982. Her architectural writings were about the humanistic meaning and artistic power that also involved her displeasure for projects that were missing civic engagement. She made architecture a more prevalent part of the public dialogue by appearing on the front page of New York Times. During the years 1968 to 1971, her public opinion was found so successful that her it was commemorated in New Yorker cartoons. She received grants from the Graham Foundation for a number of projects, including the book Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974. [3]

Museum of Modern Art Art museum in New York, N.Y.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is an art museum located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. The museum will be temporarily closed to expand its galleries from June 16 through October 21, 2019. MoMA PS1 will remain open on its regular schedule.

<i>The New York Times</i> Daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The New York Times is an American newspaper based in New York City with worldwide influence and readership. Founded in 1851, the paper has won 127 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other newspaper. The Times is ranked 18th in the world by circulation and 3rd in the U.S.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences United States honorary society and center for independent policy research

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.

She was the architecture critic for The Wall Street Journal , a position she took up in 1997 until 2012.

<i>The Wall Street Journal</i> American business-focused daily broadsheet newspaper based in New York City

The Wall Street Journal is a U.S. business-focused, English-language international daily newspaper based in New York City. The Journal, along with its Asian and European editions, is published six days a week by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corp. The newspaper is published in the broadsheet format and online. The Journal has been printed continuously since its inception on July 8, 1889, by Charles Dow, Edward Jones, and Charles Bergstresser.

John Costonis, writing of how public aesthetics is shaped, used her as a prime example of an influential media critic, remarking that "the continuing barrage fired from [her] Sunday column... had New York developers, politicians, and bureaucrats, ducking for years." He reproduces a cartoon in which construction workers, at the base of a building site with a foundation and a few girders lament that "Ada Louise Huxtable already doesn't like it!" [4]

Carter Wiseman wrote, "Huxtable's insistence on intellectual rigor and high design standards made her the conscience of the national architectural community." [5]

She wrote over ten books on architecture, including a 2004 biography of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Penguin Lives series. She was credited as one of the main forces behind the founding of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965. [6] At the same time, she was a severe critic of fakery in addressing the city's past, writing in 1968: "Nothing beats keeping the old city where it belongs and where its ghosts are at home. [But] please, gentlemen, no horse-drawn cars, no costumes, no wigs, no stage sets, no cute-old stores, no 're-creations' that never were, no phony little-old-New York.... That is perversion, not preservation." [7]

Ada Louise Huxtable's oral biography is included in "Particular Passions: Talk With Women Who Shaped Our Times."." [8]

Through the years, she became such an important figure for the architectural world that she was invited to be involved in numerous juries and committees. For example, she served as a juror the Pritzker Architecture Prize and Preamium Imperiale of Japan. She was also a member on the Architectural Selection and Building Design Committees for the Getty Center, Getty Villa and more. [9]


In 2013, the Getty Research Institute announced its acquisition of the Ada Louise Huxtable archive, which spans 1921 through 2013 and includes 93 boxes and 19 file drawers of Huxtable's manuscripts and typescripts, reports, correspondence, and documents, as well as research files full of notes, clippings, photocopies, and, most notably, original photographs of architecture and design by contemporary photographers. [10] [11]

Selected works

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  1. Dunlap, David W. (January 7, 2013). "Ada Louise Huxtable, Champion of Livable Architecture, Dies at 91". The New York Times . Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 Miller, Stephen (January 8, 2013), "Lover of Cities Was Dean of Architecture Critics", The Wall Street Journal , p. A6, retrieved January 7, 2013
  3. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter H" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 29, 2014.
  4. Costonis, John J (1989). Icons and Aliens. University of Illinois Press. p. 53. ISBN   0-252-01553-3.
  5. Wiseman, Carter (2000). Twentieth-Century American Architecture. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN   0-393-32054-5.
  6. Bernstein, Adam (January 7, 2013). "Ada Louise Huxtable, Pulitzer-winning architecture critic, dies at 91". The Washington Post . Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  7. Copied from a plaque at South Street Seaport, New York, April 2015.
  8. Gilbert, Lynn (December 10, 2012). Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who Shaped Our Times. New York City: Lynn Gilbert Inc. ISBN   978-1-61061-261-6.[ permanent dead link ]
  9. "Privacy And Technology". May 11, 2017. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  10. Hawthorne, Christopher (January 7, 2013). "Noted architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable is dead at 91". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  11. "Ada Louise Huxtable Archive". Getty Research Institute. Retrieved February 11, 2014.