Moderately Effective Practices in Public Art
Posted Nov. 10, 2010
It's been over a month since Creative Time, the once-pioneering Manhattan public art institution, convened an impressive list of speakers for its second annual conference, ambitiously titled, The Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice. I hope the third summit, if there is one--and there should be--tones down the rhetoric and brings its name into closer correspondence with reality.

On the Uses and Abuses of Urbanistic Social Research
Posted April 20, 2010

I've been reading Inheriting the City: The Children of Immigrants Come of Age, this incredible study of recent second-generation immigrants in NYC co-authored by John Mollenkopf, director of CUNY's Center for Urban Research, who wrote a ground-breaking analysis of the Koch administration, Phoenix in the Ashes: The Rise and Fall of the Koch Coalition in New York City Politics on Ed Koch's ability to consolidate voter blocs and convert them into governing majorities in the 1980s. I highly recommend this latest book for people interested in urban development issues that touch on immigration. Its longitudinal survey of a broad range of randomly selected subjects over the course of decades reveals new information on how Dominican, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Jamaican, Filipino, Chinese, Indian and other new groups have fared in recent years, potentially shedding light on that ever-present urbanistic red herring, the specter of gentrification. It was reviewed here when it came out two years ago. This kind of serious social science will be required to really transform urban policy and influence the coming immigration debate.

Nicolai Ouroussoff: Radically Ambivalent Servant of the Master Class
Posted July 18, 2010

I keep coming back to one piece written by Nicolai Ouroussoff at the beginning of the recession in December of 2008, entitled "It Was Fun Till the Money Ran Out" as the touchstone for everything that's wrong with architecture criticism. Here we have the overwhelmingly dominant New York Times architecture critic, the single-most powerful voice in architecture writing--not by virtue of quality of writing or acuity of vision or eloquence but by the stupid circumstance of having been hand-picked by the previous architecture critic--reflecting on the past decade in which he was responsible more than any other single voice for saying what was good or bad in the world of architecture.

Discussions on Networked Publics: Thoughts on the Archipocalypse
Posted Feb. 15, 2010

A panel of youngish architects and writers were invited to Columbia's "Studio X" space in the architecture ghetto at 180 Varick on Tuesday to discuss the current archipocalypse and how new forms of media and communication are changing the landscape of contemporary practice. The premise of "Networked Publics" recapitulates the theory about the Internet and democracy popular in the late 90s. The explosion of independent voices through online media would liberate new forms of democratic participation. In architecture, small inventive practices could gain access to clients aided by free forms of networking, publicity and expression. Newly responsive architecture would be produced through 3D design and automated production. In keeping with Columbia's sometimes effete theoretical tradition, there was a call for new critical theories and models of practice to be developed in response to the past decade's purported shortfalls and current recessionary conditions.