Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Wytold Rybczynski - Contemporary Architecture's Gentle Sparring Partner

Don't let the soft touch fool you, though: his right uppercut will be felt for weeks after he lands it.

This is a real treat from the people at Slate: a photo essay by Wytold Rybczynski on Disney's much-derided effort in commercial community-building, "Celebration." Unlike many design critics who leave the starting gate fueled by caffeinated irony, Rybczynski expresses his sympathies and approval with plainspoken clarity. His criticisms are equally clear, and have a more devasting impact than those mustered by po-mo blunderbuss wiseacres. Rybczynski is recongizably one the best critics in North America; his observations about this strange little town certainly opened my eyes to the quirks and possibilities of my own neighborhood. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

DarkoV said...

Great link! Like you siad, Rybczynski's writing is gorgeously clear. What I've always liked about his books is that he doesn't throw out the baby with the bath water, like a lot of folks writing about architecture do. From the "Most Beautiful House in the World" to Home" A Short History of an Idea" to "A Clearing In The Distance: Frederick Law Olmsted and America in the 19th Century", his books were carefully constructed and therefore quite convincing and insightful. In his comments on "Celebration", he spoke of the good and the bad of the Disney idea. As far as the prices of the houses there, now, can you fault Disney because, overall, their idea of a community was a good one? Only repetition will bring down the cost to what an average person can afford.