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July 12, 2003

Free Reads -- Emily Eakin on Christopher Alexander

Friedrich --

Dept. of Wonders Never Cease: The New York Times, showing a little respect (if grudging) for Christopher Alexander -- who'd a thunk it? Emily Eakin meets with the great man and casts a very wary eye on what he's been up to, here.

Sample passage:

"Architecture is a very strange field," Mr. Alexander said over lunch here in the medieval town not far from West Dean Gardens where he grew up and has lately been spending much of his time. "It's almost as though they've induced a mass psychosis in society by introducing a point of view that has no common sense and no bearing on any deeper feeling."

Credit where credit's due: at least they've taken note. I wonder how someone slipped this piece past Herbert Muschamp.



posted by Michael at July 12, 2003


"He's a self-proclaimed outsider," said the architect Peter Eisenman, who famously debated him at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard in 1982. "I think Chris unfortunately fell off the radar screen some time ago. He got off into being cranky."

I guess old Pete didn't do too well at the debate, if he needs to make nasty little digs at Alexander 20 years later, huh?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 13, 2003 12:26 AM

The NYT has a fair amount of pretty good writing on cities, buildings, landscape etc etc so long as one avoids the annointed "architecture" writer, Muschamp. In fact I'd bet that there is one interesting article somewhere in the paper --- don't overlook the Real Estate pages --- every day. While most of it is oriented to NYC (after all it still is the _New York_ Times) there are a suprising number of articles with a national and global focus.

Posted by: David Sucher on July 13, 2003 11:05 AM

FvB -- A lot of people enjoy taking nasty little digs at Alexander. I wonder if any of it has to do with the fact that a lot of his ideas resonate with (and please) a lot of people outside the official architecture world, in ways that most official-architecture ideas don't.

David -- So true. The people covering Real Estate are often much more interesting to read than the absurd Muschamp. Back when I was looking at the Times regularly, I was a big fan of Christopher Gray, whose column about architecture history and old NYC buildings appeared (where else) in the real-estate section. Wonderful writer, full of all kinds of interesting info, fascinated by the way buildings and neighborhoods take form. Had lunch with him once -- pleased to discover that he's a delightful, level-headed modest guy. Is he still writing the column?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 14, 2003 3:39 PM

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