Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange | Opinions

Lunch With The Critics: Year-End Awards

Awards certificates, with permission from Shutterstock

Why should other critics have all the fun? Mark Lamster and Alexandra Lange hash out their bests and worsts of the year over sandwiches in Boerum Hill.

Best Use of a Pritzker Prize: I.M. Pei scotches the fourth, 400-foot-tall Silver Tower proposed by NYU, suggesting only beloved elder statesmen of architecture have the power to slow the university’s spread. [AL]

Best Use of White Plastic from Italy: The dapper drones at SCDP got a new office, and the bright spot was Roger Sterling’s Nesso lamp, a glowing mushroom designed in 1964 by Giancarlo Mattioli. [ML]

Best Show: MoMA’s revelatory Bauhaus 1919–1933: Workshops for Modernity, curated by Barry Bergdoll and Leah Dickerman. Honorable mention: Chaos & Classicism at the Guggenheim, America’s Mayor at the MCNY. [ML]

Bad for Women in Architecture Award: “Bits of the sandwich were falling out of her mouth as she spoke, in a husky voice.” From John Seabrook's profile of Zaha Hadid in The New Yorker, “The Abstractionist.” [AL]

Good for Women in Architecture Award: SANAA, the Japanese firm led by Kazuyo Sejima and
 Ryue Nishizawa, wins the Pritzker Prize. Can Denise Scott Brown get hers now too, please? [AL]

The Woody Allen Award for Gratuitous Cinematic Images of New York: Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps. The swoony photography of Rodrigo Prieto was the highlight of Oliver Stone’s sequel. [ML]

Baby Rem Award: Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, for the three-letter firm name (BIG), the delirious New York entrance (see this graphic novel), and the cartoonish building names and shapes (8 House, the Mountain). [AL]

Mailing It in Award: Witold Rybczynski, for his why-are-great-architects-short piffle, the most inane story of the year. [ML]

Worst Moment in Architectural Criticism: Sarah Palin, for her pernicious “it stabs hearts” tweet on the Park51 community center. [ML]

Ezra Stoller Award for Photographic Ubiquity: Iwan Baan. How can we tell our Maltzans from our Maynes from our MAXXIs if they are all shot by the same photographer? [AL]

The Cognitive Dissonance Award: CityCenter, Las Vegas. The “sustainable” mega-development may demolish Norman Foster’s built-but-never-opened Harmon Hotel. [ML]

Most Anti-Climactic Groundbreaking Award: Atlantic Yards — oh wait — Barclays Center. When you’re more interested in the ownership than the team or the building, something is out of whack. [AL]

The Deadwood Award for Historical Pastiche: Roman & Williams. If you like the Decembrists, Harry Flashman, and bespoke cocktails, they’re the only architects for you. [ML]

Worst Use of Architectural History Award: The Baroque hyperbole surrounding Frank Gehry’s still-not-actually-open Beekman Tower, where value engineering took all the Bernini out of its folds, and left the southern halves of Brooklyn and Manhattan with another shiny, blank skyscraper. [AL]

Negligent Stewardship Award: Chase Bank, for shuttering Gordon Bunshaft’s landmark glass box on Fifth Avenue, and crating up its site-specific Harry Bertoia screen. [ML]

Most Overhyped Gift to the City’s Children from the Design Community Award: The Imagination Playground. Like a stage set waiting for actors, or at least another slide. [AL]

Putting Architects Out of Business Award: NYC Transportation Commissioner Janette
 Sadik-Khan, who created open space in the heart of the city without juried competitions, public 
hearings, architects, landscape architects — or much design. [AL]

Online Publisher of the Year: Our friends at Curbed have gone national with their sharp combination of real estate gossip, shelter porn, and design criticism. Honorable Mention: Architizer. [ML]

Most Moving Moments of the Year: The heartfelt personal tributes to Raimund Abraham, tragically killed in a Los Angeles car accident, on the blog of Lebbeus Woods. [ML]

Posted in: Architecture, Arts + Culture

Comments [3]

ps: best wishes for the holidays and the new year to my lunchmate, and to everyone in the greater design observer community.

bring on the elevens.
mark lamster

Does Architecture really need a "bests and worsts" list? Doesn't this further degrade the sad simplistic state of architecture criticism today?

Highly entertaining piece, thank you guys
Anne Costa

Jobs | July 17