Saxon Henry's Reviews > On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change

On Architecture by Ada Louise Huxtable
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Mar 02, 09

Read in March, 2009

Huxtable is a tour de force when it comes to understanding and deconstructing architecture. The book was simply a pleasure to read. As a journalist, I was especially touched by this excerpt of her introduction: "Those of us who write for newspapers have little time to consider the long term or the larger implications of our work, nor are editors known for welcoming such digressions. We are focused on the moment, looking for the next big thing; it is the immediate news peg or upcoming trend that matters. Sometimes we are so busy fighting a defensive rearguard action for an old revolution that we miss the signals of a new one...[This has been particularly true for the champions of modernism, a crusade that never seemed to end even as the ground shifted radically under its practitioners' feet.:]

Pressing deadlines, we are not given to abstractions, but this does not mean that we are without passionately held convictions or a personal point of view...

I've had the great fortune of editing a book that will be released in October 2009 by W.W. Norton titled "Four Florida Moderns." In it, four architects working under the principles of the European Modernists like Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, passionately consider themselves the current generations of "moderns" working in Florida today. Doing research for my preface introduced me to the precepts of the early European moderns and I am impressed with Huxtable's insight into these highly creative individuals. In her essay, "Architect of Today's World," she called Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, or Le Corbusier, "a Renaissance man who turned the twentieth century into a one-man renaissance" and "one of the major shapers of today's world."

The book is a collection of Huxtables columns for the "New York Times," the "New York Review of Books," and the "Wall Street Journal." In terms of viewing architectural history and recording its progress, Huxtable herself becomes "one of the major shapers of today's world."
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