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Ada Louise Huxtable

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Title: Ada Louise Huxtable  
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Subject: Marblehead, Massachusetts, Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, Ford Foundation Building, Architecture of the night, Colonial Williamsburg
Collection: 1921 Births, 2013 Deaths, American Architecture Writers, American Biographers, American Curators, American Non-Fiction Writers, American Women Writers, Cancer Deaths in New York, Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Guggenheim Fellows, Historical Preservationists, Hunter College Alumni, MacArthur Fellows, New York University Alumni, People Associated with the Museum of Modern Art, Pulitzer Prize for Criticism Winners, The New York Times Pulitzer Prize Winners, The Wall Street Journal People
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Ada Louise Huxtable

Ada Louise Huxtable (née Landman; March 14, 1921 – January 7, 2013) was an architecture critic and writer on architecture. In 1970 she was awarded the first ever Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. The esteemed architecture critic Paul Goldberger, also a Pulitzer Prize-winner for architectural criticism, said of Huxtable: "Before Ada Louise Huxtable, architecture was not a part of the public dialogue."[1] "She was a great lover of cities, a great preservationist and the central planet around which every other critic revolved," said architect Robert A. M. Stern, dean of the Yale University School of Architecture.[2]

The concourse in 1962 of Penn Station, two years before demolition. "Not that Penn Station is the Parthenon," Ada Louise Huxtable wrote, "but it might as well be because we can never again afford a nine-acre structure of superbly detailed travertine, any more than we could build one of solid gold. It is a monument to the lost art of magnificent construction, other values aside."


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Archive 3
  • Selected works 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

Huxtable was born and died in New York City. Her father, the physician Michael Landman, was co-author (with his brother, Rabbi Isaac Landman) of the play A Man of Honor. Ada Louise Landman received an A. B. (magna cum laude) from Hunter College, CUNY in 1941.

In 1942, she married industrial designer L. Garth Huxtable, and continued graduate study at New York University from 1942 to 1950. From 1950 to 1951 she spent one year in Italy on a scholarship of the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission.


She served as Curatorial Assistant for Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from 1946 to 1950. She was a contributing editor to Progressive Architecture and Art in America from 1950 to 1963 before being named the first architecture critic at The New York Times, a post she held from 1963 to 1982. She received grants from the Graham Foundation for a number of projects, including the book Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1974.[3]

She was the architecture critic for The Wall Street Journal, a position she took up in 1997.

John Costonis, writing of how public aesthetics is shaped, used her as a prime example of an influential media critic, remarking that "the continuing barrage fired from [her] Sunday column... had New York developers, politicians, and bureaucrats, ducking for years." He reproduces a cartoon in which construction workers, at the base of a building site with a foundation and a few girders lament that "Ada Louise Huxtable already doesn't like it!"[4]

Carter Wiseman wrote, "Huxtable's insistence on intellectual rigor and high design standards made her the conscience of the national architectural community."[5]

She wrote over ten books on architecture, including a 2004 biography of Frank Lloyd Wright for the Penguin Lives series. She was credited as one of the main forces behind the founding of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1965.[6] At the same time, she was a severe critic of fakery in addressing the city's past, writing in 1968: "Nothing beats keeping the old city where it belongs and where its ghosts are at home. [But] please, gentlemen, no horse-drawn cars, no costumes, no wigs, no stage sets, no cute-old stores, no 're-creations' that never were, no phony little-old-New York.... That is perversion, not preservation."[7]

Ada Louise Huxtable's papers have been acquired by the Getty Research Institute.[8]

Ada Louise Huxtable's oral biography is included in "Particular Passions: Talk With Women Who Shaped Our Times."."[9]


In 2013, the Getty Research Institute announced its acquisition of the Ada Louise Huxtable archive, which spans 1921 through 2013 and includes 93 boxes and 19 file drawers of Huxtable's manuscripts and typescripts, reports, correspondence, and documents, as well as research files full of notes, clippings, photocopies, and, most notably, original photographs of architecture and design by contemporary photographers.[10]

Selected works

  • Frank Lloyd Wright: A Life (2008) ISBN 9780143114291
  • On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Change (2008) ISBN 9780802717078
  • The Unreal America: Architecture and Illusion (1999) ISBN 9781565840553
  • The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered, a history of the skyscraper (1993)[2] ISBN 9780394537733
  • Will They Ever Finish Bruckner Boulevard?, a collection of material appearing in The New York Times (1989)[2]
  • Kicked A Building Lately? (1989) ISBN 9780520062078
  • Architecture, Anyone? Cautionary Tales of the Building Art (1988) ISBN 9780394529097
  • Goodbye History, Hello Hamburger: An Anthology of Architectural Delights and Disasters (1986) ISBN 9780891331193
  • What the Critic Sees: Ada Louise Huxtable and Her Legacy on YouTube. Christopher Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times architecture critic, examines her career and legacy.


  1. ^ Dunlap, David W. (January 7, 2013). "Ada Louise Huxtable, Champion of Livable Architecture, Dies at 91".  
  2. ^ a b c Miller, Stephen (January 8, 2013), "Lover of Cities Was Dean of Architecture Critics",  
  3. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter H" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  4. ^ Costonis, John J (1989). Icons and Aliens. University of Illinois Press. p. 53.  
  5. ^ Wiseman, Carter (2000). Twentieth-Century American Architecture. W. W. Norton & Company.  
  6. ^ Bernstein, Adam (January 7, 2013). "Ada Louise Huxtable, Pulitzer-winning architecture critic, dies at 91".  
  7. ^ Copied from a plaque at South Street Seaport, New York, April 2015.
  8. ^ Hawthorne, Christopher (January 7, 2013). "Noted architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable is dead at 91".  
  9. ^ Gilbert, Lynn (December 10, 2012). Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who Shaped Our Times. New York City:  
  10. ^ "Ada Louise Huxtable Archive". Getty Research Institute. Retrieved February 11, 2014. 

External links

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