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                          Weinstein: From Ada to Zaha and Everything In Between

                          Op-eds, book reviews, musings, and debate

                          By Norman Weinstein
                          January 26, 2025

                          Weinstein: From Ada to Zaha and Everything In Between



                          Norman Weinstein writes about architecture and design for Architectural Record, and is the author of “Words That Build” that focuses on the overlooked foundations of architecture: oral and written communication. He consults with architects and engineers interested in communicating more profitably; his webinars are available from ExecSense. He can be reached at .



                          Words That Build Part 1 – 21

                          An exclusive 21-part series published by gsqeg8w.icu



                          Feature Articles (scroll down for Book Reviews)


                          Inexhaustible Nostalgia, Inexhaustible Shocks of the New: How to Navigate Through a Fake Controversy
                          A path to avoid the quagmire of architecture's style wars.


                          What is "Quiet Design" and Why Should It Matter? Some Troubling Queries for Cathleen McGuigan and Sundry Fans of "Architectural Quietism"
                          Can great architecture be so subdued that we remain unconscious of even experiencing it as architecture?


                          Op-Ed: Which "Past" Should Architects Embrace and Why? Posing Alternatives to Architectural Nostalgia

                          Witold Rybczynski How Architecture Works Humanist Toolkit might be his most urbanely written and sensibly organized books but his traditional definition of architecture past might be pass
                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature431.htm - October 11, 2013


                          Krier Answers Weinstein's Questions (and then some!)

                          Dear Mr Weinstein Thank you for mentioning my Speer reprint will respond gladly to your questions if you respond to my pointed questions
                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature423.htm - July 2, 2013


                          Op-Ed: Some Pointed Architectural Queries for Three Connoisseurs of Albert Speer's Monumental Classicism on the Occasion of the Re-publication of "Albert Speer: Architecture 1932-1942" by Leon Krier

                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature421.htm - June 18, 2013


                          Albert Barnes Offers Critical Response to Placement of New "Barnes"

                          Barnes agrees to talk with fellow Central High School of Philadelphia alum after 61 years of silence but only on the condition that his remarks remain unedited This transcript respects his requirement
                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature397.htm - June 19, 2012


                           A Meditation on the Beauty of Zaha Hadid's Door Handle

                          Hadid design issues challenge define beauty by lyrically playing with illusion
                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature344.htm - October 28, 2010


                          Why "Greatest Hits" Lists by Architecture's Stars Should Be Mocked

                          Transferring the musical or cinematic greatest hits list mind set to architecture is deleterious and here why
                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature338.htm - August 12, 2010


                          Celebratory Meditations on SANAA Winning the Pritzker Prize

                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature327.htm - March 29, 2010


                          ArchNewsThen: Life After Ada: Reassessing the Utility of Architectural Criticism (first published March 2, 2009)

                          Ada Louise Huxtable deserves mucho thanks and praise but other questions moving us to new flavor of criticism have to be asked ALH response couldn agree more
                          http://gsqeg8w.icu/features/Feature409.htm - January 11, 2013



                          Book Reviews


                          Reading the Grain: "Wood" by William Hall
                          Designer William Hall's photographic essay of wood architecture spanning a 1,000 years broadens thinking about a trendy material so it appears as an ever-changing, perennial, and crucial one.


                          "The Work of MacKay-Lyons Sweetapple: Economy as Ethic": Transforming the local and commonplace into the global and rare
                          Robert McCarter (with a little help from his friends) crafts a majestic survey long overdue.


                          Clarifying The Art of Layering Space, or How Architects Outdo Superman's X-Ray Vision Daily
                          In "Time, Space, and Material: The Mechanics of Layering in Architecture," Anne-Catrin Schultz provocatively illuminates essentials of architectural layering, storytelling, interpretation, and wonder that are concentrated in the acts of creating and appreciating architecture, layer after layer.

                          Delicately Rearranging Intangibles in Public Space: The Art of Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers in "Learning Through Practice"
                          A new monograph highlights transformative designs by a firm strikingly dedicated to re-enchanting public space.


                          "Saint John's Abbey Church: Marcel Breuer and the Creation of a Modern Sacred Space," by Victoria M. Young
                          A history of the making of a contemporary sacred architectural masterpiece transcends its subject and becomes a broadly applicable study of peerless client-architect communication.


                          Opening a New Chapter on Designing Public Libraries
                          Why Robert Dawson's “The Public Library: A Photographic Essay” plays it safe by looking back when architects need to scan an emerging horizon.


                          Best Architecture Books of 2012
                          10 books reflect the changing climate - in every sense - of the profession.


                          The Pesky Persistence of Psychological Encounters with Home Design
                          Edwin Heathcote elegantly meditates on the symbols and myths infusing domestic design in "The Meaning of Home."


                          Tadao Ando's Thoughtful Heart
                          Two recent books track a trajectory of a spiritual engagement with Modernism.


                          "Just Trying to Do This Jig-Saw Puzzle"
                          How architecture's and urban design's practice can change through studying of a little-appreciated Renaissance art, intarsia.


                          Imperfect Health: Probing the Porous Interface between Architecture and Health
                          A new book and website linked to a recent Canadian Centre for Architecture exhibition offer a healthy tonic countering academically anemic architectural education.


                          Book Review: Advancing Windswept Design: Pointers from Art Nouveau, Zaha Hadid, and Charles Sowers
                          New books and installation art highlight breezy refinements in wind-inspired design.


                          Book Review: Laboratory Architecture for Observing Nature at Play
                          Books on Luis Barragan's house and BNIM's Omega Center for Sustainable Living reveal how transparently daring designs teach Nature's processes.


                          Book Review: Tracing a Hidden Track from Adolf Loos as Modernist Architect to Jennifer Post as Modernist Interior Designer
                          By considering this unlikely couple, we can air out that beleaguered term "architectural minimalism" and trace a trajectory of what might be better identified as "essentialist architecture."


                          Two Books to Accelerate the Translation of Ideas into Practical Forms
                          New books on design research and transformational ideas through architectural history have potent practical uses: "The Designer's Guide to Doing Research: Applying Knowledge to Inform Design" Sally Augustin and Cindy Coleman; and "100 Ideas That Changed Architecture" by Richard Weston


                          Book Review: How to be a Useful Architectural Critic: Alexandra Lange's Perspicacious Primer Points the Way
                          "Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities" - use it often and you'll never think of the word "critic" pejoratively again.


                          Michael Sorkin: Architectural Critic as Scam Scanner and Urban(e) Design Sage
                          Sorkin's "All Over the Map," a sprawling miscellany of recent essays on buildings and cities, a triumph of enlightened nay-saying and affirmation.


                          Best Architecture Books of 2011
                          10 Books Sparking Creative Inspiration Plus Escapist Fare for Financially Fickle Times


                          Book Review: Pencils that Refuse to Die: Meditations about New Books on Architectural Drawing 
                          Three recent books dealing with architectural drawing by pencil you need to read: "Eleven Exercises in the Art of Architectural Drawing: Slow Food for the Architect's Imagination" by Marco Frascari; "The Architect's Sketchbook" by Will Jones; and "Robbie Cornelissen: The Capacious Memory" by Lex ter Braak and Edwin Jacobs


                          Book Review: "One Million Acres & No Zoning": Lars Lerup's Outrageous Encomium to Houston Instructs and Infuriates 
                          This isn't some dryly academic reconfiguration of trendy urban planning theory. I recommend it for the intrepid.


                          Book Review: Talkin' 'Bout (Not) My Generation: Uplifting Gen X Architects Showcase Pragmatic Optimism 
                          In "New York Dozen: Gen X Architects" by architect Michael J. Crosbie, the framing of each architectural firm is extraordinary.


                          "Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum": Bravura Example of an Architectural Documentary - Wright's Guggenheim Done Right 
                          A look at great architecture as the product of the dance of the designer's intellect in an architectural film that doesn't miss a beat.


                          Book Review: A Shout Out for Leers Weinzapfel Associates: "Made to Measure" - Some Meditations on Rejuvenating Campus Architecture


                          Book Review: Diving into Architecture from Every New Angle: Reading Guillevic's "Geometries" 
                          Why an obscure book of French poetry in a flashy translation goes to the heart of every architectural practice.


                          Book Review: "Immaterial World: Transparency in Architecture": Marc Kristal crystallizes increasingly complex notions of transparency with a light touch. 
                          Although most of the 25 projects discussed are well-known, they take on additional meaning in this sensitively curated selection. 


                          Book Review: "Visual Planning and the Picuresque" by Nikolaus Pevsner. Edited by Mathew Aitchison 
                          A rediscovered manuscript unveils a portrait of the famed architectural historian as neglected urban designer. His commitment to the picturesque aesthetic for buildings and towns is as urgently needed as ever.


                          Book Review: How New Urbanism's Case Triumphs Best Through "The Language of Towns & Cities: A Visual Dictionary" by Dhiru A. Thadani 
                          Thadani's oversized reference charms, infuriates, and enlightens.


                          Best Architecture Books of 2010 
                          Ten books pointing the way to larger professional horizons


                          Book Review: "Architecture and Beauty: Conversations with Architects about a Troubled Relationship": Yael Reisner exuberantly interviews architects about beauty 
                          Any of you architects seen Mr. Keats Lately?


                          Book Review: Shedding Light on Concrete: Tadao Ando: Complete Works 1975-2010 by Philip Jodidio 
                          Photographic presentation of a poet of light and concrete triumphs over lackluster commentary.


                          Book Review: Sage Architectural Reflections from Architecture's "Athena": Denise Scott Brown's "Having Words" distills a lifetime of theorizing and practice into practical and succinct guidance for thriving through difficult times 
                          Brown's occasional papers trace a trenchant trajectory of learning from Las Vegas to learning from everything.


                          Book Review: Keeping the Architectural Profession Professional: "Architecture from the Outside In: Selected Essays by Robert Gutman" celebrates Gutman's legacy as invaluable outsider
                          Selected essays by a penetrating sociologist of architecture pose the kinds of tough-minded questions needed now to keep architectural professional on-track.


                          Book Review: "Design through Dialogue: A Guide for Clients and Architects," by Karen A. Franck and Teresa von Sommaruga Howard 
                          A helpful communications primer offers case studies of winning collaborations between clients and architects, but as useful as this book proves, it leaves some uncomfortable questions about communication unaddressed.


                          Twilight Visions: Vintage Surrealist Photography Sheds New Light on Architecture 
                          An exhibition and book of photographs of Paris between the wars might just be the necessary correctives to the virtual sterility of digital imagery


                          Best Architecture Books of 2009 
                          10 crucial volumes from the classic to the iconoclastic


                          Book Review: "Gunnar Birkerts: Metaphoric Modernist" by Sven Birkerts and Martin Schwartz

                          A major architect in the history of Modernism finally receives recognition – and sundry asides about why Modernism never exited.


                          Book Review: "Urban Design for an Urban Century: Placemaking for People," by Lance Jay Brown, David Dixon, and Oliver Gillham 
                          To the credit of the erudite authors, their sketch of urban design brings levels of political, sociological, and architectural analysis together in a readable synthesis.


                          Book Review: "Everything Must Move: 15 Years at Rice School of Architecture 1994-2009" 
                          There’s a Texas flood of architectural ideas that gives ample evidence of an architecture school that unsettles pat assumptions. Who could ask for anything more?


                          Book Review: A Subversive Book Every Architect Needs: "Architect's Essentials of Negotiation" by Ava J. Abramowitz 
                          Supposedly architects don't need negotiating skills along with other communication skills because great design "sells itself." How lovely that an AIA legal counsel created this definitive book to shatter that thin myth.


                          Book Review: A Perspective from One Elevation: "Conversations With Frank Gehry" by Barbara Isenberg

                          Gehry's conversations offer portraits of an astute listener as well as talker, an architect as aware of his flaws and limitations as of his virtues.


                          Best Architecture Books of 2008 
                          10 tomes from the superior to the indispensable


                          Book Review: You've Got to Draw the Line Somewhere

                          A review of Drafting Culture: a Social History of Architectural Graphic Standards by George Barnett Johnston


                          Book Review: "NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith," edited by Franklin Sirmans

                          Sharpen your pencils - and get ready to do a NeoHooDoo shimmy



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