Writing About Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities, the latest addition to the Architecture Briefs series, is a handbook on how to write effectively and critically about the contemporary city. The book offers works by some of the best architecture critics of the twentieth century including Ada Louise Huxtable, Lewis Mumford, Herbert Muschamp, Michael Sorkin, Charles Moore, Frederick Law Olmsted, and Jane Jacobs to explains some of the most successful methods with which to approach architectural criticism. Each chapter opens with a reprint of a historically significant essay (and organized by typology such as the skyscraper, the museum, and parks) discussing a specific building or urban project. The author, Alexandra Lange, then offers a close reading of that essay, as well as her own analysis through contemporary examples, to further enlighten the reader about how to write an effective piece of architectural criticism.
This book, based on lessons learned from the author's courses at New York University and the School of Visual Arts, could serve as the primary text for a course on criticism for undergraduates or architecture and design majors. Architects covered include Marcel Breuer, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Field Operations, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Frederick Law Olmsted, SOM, Louis Sullivan, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
"In Writing About Architecture, Lange recognizes the stakes inherent in the act of describing place. While she certainly is pushing writers, readers and her students to aim for clarity in criticism, Lange goes much further, arguing that architecture critics be invested intellectually and emotionally in the world that surrounds them. The iconic critics Lange celebrates enliven the spaces they write about - whether they love them or hate them. They notice things. They're steeped in history, in context and provenance. They take their time. They make the reader want to experience the spaces described." --- Allison Arieff, The New York Times
"It's not only a delight to read - Jacobs' vivid 1961 description of the everyday ballet on Manhattan's Hudson Street alone is worth the $24.95 price of admission - but an instructive treatise on how great criticisms come to be." -- Architects + Artisans
"Nothing short of miraculous.... Lange's book goes into the "nuts-and bolts" level of wordsmithing architectural experiences with a poetic lyricism and technical precision as no book before it. Use it often and you'll never think of the word "critic" pejoratively again." ---ArchNewsNow
"Lange analyzes her key texts with great care and perceptiveness, and happily she is wide ranging in her taste... She understands that the purpose of writing about architecture is to build a constituency for better design, to help people see, to help them feel more agency over the built environment-and to help them take joy in architecture's great moments. She's good at doing that herself, and this book will help others do it, too." --- Paul Goldberger, The Architect's Newspaper