Vernacular Urbanism?

     Vernacular, in an academic or art-speak context, is a word worthy of healthy suspicion. It is used to designate populist styles, to suggest a common language that bubbles up from below rather than a discourse dictated from on high. It’s generally freighted with ideas about authenticity: vernacular styles are … Continue Reading Vernacular Urbanism?

Fit for a Tsar

    When I visited St. Petersburg last May, the Mariinsky 2 was still a work zone. Now it’s open. The new building is undistinguished and even quite ugly from the outside. I haven’t seen the inside yet. But I did write about the controversy over its site, cost and design … Continue Reading Fit for a Tsar

Rallying behind Gehry

What a difference a week makes. On March 20, at a Congressional hearing, it looked as if the controversy whipped up by Susan and Anne Eisenhower, and further fueled by the dogged work of a small anti-Gehry group (the National Civic Art Society, which is pretty much anti-everything of or … Continue Reading Rallying behind Gehry

Wag of the Finger

Yes, I got a “wag of the finger” from Stephen Colbert last night. Unfortunately, I was watching “My Fair Lady” at the time and didn’t know about my new pop-culty cred until this morning. But it’s just as good as a rerun web clip. He singled out my review of … Continue Reading Wag of the Finger

Greening the Mall

Ever noticed that some of the nicest places to sit on the National Mall are around the edges, gardens such as the one outside the Botanical Garden building, or the sweet little swamp and wetlands next to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian? The designers of the new National … Continue Reading Greening the Mall

Open those windows

As gripes go, I admit it is a small one. But it’s sad to see windows appear in new buildings only to be covered over from the inside when a retailer with a basic corporate template for the floor plan moves in. You see this all over Washington, and in other … Continue Reading Open those windows