Sarah Williams Goldhagen

Sarah Williams Goldhagen on Architecture: Valuable China
October 27, 2011

It has a centralized, repressive government for which its citizens do not vote. Local authorities come to people’s houses in the middle of the night to arrest them on bogus charges. Censors control access to information, monitoring the Internet and approving or even writing elementary school textbooks. Corrupt government officials routinely elevate to power the obedient, the well-connected, and the cash-plentiful above the meritorious. Laborers, skilled and unskilled, work breathtakingly long hours.

How Steve Jobs Turned Design Into a Necessity
October 11, 2011

Even the “Genius” at your local Apple store admits that your dollar buys significantly more computing power in a PC. iTunes can be infuriatingly glitchy and difficult to navigate. The iPod is so delicate a flower that it breaks, seemingly, if you exhale in its vicinity. What, then, explains a world awash in longing, admiration, and loss in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death last week at the age of 56?

When Did Architecture’s Top Prize Become So Predictable and Boring?
July 02, 2011

Recently, the Pritzker Committee held the award ceremony for its annual prize, which this year went to Eduardo Souto de Moura, a Portuguese architect revered among architecture’s global, academic elite and virtually unknown to the public.

Tarnished Stirling
December 17, 2010

“Notes from the Archive: James Frazer Stirling, Architect and Teacher”Exhibition runs until January 2, 2011 at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut, and will then travel to the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Post-modernism in architecture came to the public eye when, in the late 1970s, The New York Times printed on its front page the astonishing image of Philip Johnson’s model for the proposed AT&T (now Sony) building in midtown Manhattan.

The Secret of Park51
October 12, 2010

Do we really know what the new Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero would look like? For weeks, we have heard and read that Park51 is in fact not a mosque, with its developers contending that it is modeled on two very American building types: the Jewish Community Center and the YMCA. Early sketches of the project suggest this much is true. Park51’s developers recently posted on their website three conceptual drawings of the center by the New York-based SOMA architects.

Park Here
October 07, 2010

The High Line New York City Millennium Park Chicago Citygarden St. Louis A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain.

On Background
August 12, 2010

Europe’s cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and baptisteries cover the countryside like Veronica’s veil. They comprise the continent’s landmarks and focal attractions and, for centuries, have been integral to its culture. It is curious, then, that, in the history of art, architecture has been a relatively infrequent subject—in Western painting before 1900, only scattered examples come to mind, such as the Dutch seventeenth-century church interiors by Emanuel de Witte (pictured here) or the panoramas of Venice by Canaletto.

Place of Grace
November 03, 2009

Over a decade ago, I trundled my good-natured family across miles of southern Switzerland to see every building I could by Peter Zumthor, who is this year's winner of the Pritzker Prize. Then as now, most of Zumthor's work was off the beaten track, not only literally but metaphorically, little known to the general public although admired by professionals.

Stick Stuck
February 18, 2009

ONE OF THE items in “Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling,” the exhibition recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was a short film, made in 1930, called “Houses While You Wait.” A grainy black-and-white screen opens up with a view of a vacant suburban lot. A delivery truck rolls up, filled with wall-size metal panels and other materials. A retinue of somewhat scruffy white men in baggy pants unloads the cargo and deposits it on the site. They scurry around at that ridiculous, fast-forward silent-film speed.

The Year in Architecture
January 05, 2009

To accurately assess trends in architecture and urbanism one needs a time horizon longer than 365 days. Just to design a building often takes longer than that. Even so, 2008 may come to be seen as a watershed year for contemporary architecture. The electrifying campaign for the U.S. presidency, the sputtering housing market and the global economy's free fall, the ever-more chilling and urgent need to slow the pace of global warming: these developments and more awakened architects to the realization that they've more important things to design than monolithic, high-end goodie bags.