“We need more direct and engaged criticism of the built environment.”

November 12, 2010 at 1:50 pm Leave a comment

I was fairly surprised, to be frank, by how immersed I was by the recent post “Critical Condition” by Geoff Manaugh of BLDGBLOG. I went back and read it again immediately afterwards because I was convinced I must have spaced out the first time (I’ll admit that I usually have a hard time reading big chunks of text in one go on my laptop). The post is thoughtful, opinionated, and even playful all while responding, partially in defense, to an article in Blueprint Magazine called “The New Establishment.” In the article, author Peter Kelly takes issue with the content and style of today’s most popular architecture blogs (including BLDGBLOG) and concludes with a resounding “a more realistic and rigorous approach to architectural criticism online is urgently needed.” Both the original and the response are fundamentally exploring the quality of the output of contemporary thought.

It sounds intense, but it’s absolutely worth reading both. The only way to read the original article for free that I’ve found is to zoom in on the images on the BLDGBLOG post (which shows the awesomely – though perhaps overly – illustrated Blueprint article).

I know that I personally was pretty affected by Kelly’s article, and I’m planning on bringing a more critical approach to some of my own blog posts. I also agree with Manaugh in a lot of ways, however, and I’d like to finish this post by supporting him in the following paragraph (which is also November 12’s daily design idea):

Consider this an open appeal, then, to all architecture critics unnecessarily scared of blogs: produce the texts you want us to read & study. Find writers working in the genre you’re actually talking about and constructively team up with them to promote good and rigorous criticism. Use multiple media. Cast your net wide. Don’t assume that to entertain is to lose critical insight. Remember that sometimes the most “significant new buildings” in public life today are not museums and concert halls, but film sets and game environments.

logos courtesy of Blueprint Magazine and BLDGBLOG; image of the first page of “The New Establishment” taken from “Critical Condition

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