Kevin Roche and New Haven

The Ford Foundation building in New York

One very fine work can make you love an artist even if nothing else they produce ever rises to that same level. But the opposite is also true, especially with architecture, which impinges on public life in a way that books, music and art don’t. Since I was a student in New Haven in the mid 1980s, I’ve hated his work. His Knights of Columbus Tower and gawdawful downtown arena (now gone, thank heavens!) were some of the most oppressive architecture of the last half century. He’s not that bad an architect, actually, as a new exhibition at the National Building Museum demonstrates. But those works in New Haven made an indelible impression, and it’s hard to put it out of mind even now, decades later.

Ford Foundation Headquarters, New York, New York, 1968
©Ezra Stoller/Esto

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One response to “Kevin Roche and New Haven

  1. In the late 1970s I wrote a paper on Roche’s New Haven arena for Scully’s modern architecture course. Just walking around the complex and looking at it carefully was such an unpleasant (and unsafe!) experience. Not all Roche’s fault though, since the whole redevelopment scheme of downtown New Haven was so terribly destructive. Despite everything you could see his intelligence at work, but the result was still a disaster.

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