Alexandra Lange is an architecture and design critic, and author of Writing about Architecture: Mastering the Language of Buildings and Cities. (Princeton Architectural Press, 2012). Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolis, Print, New York Magazine and The New York Times.


































































03.26.12
‘Deco Japan’ + Designing Women
The Japan Society's new exhibition
"Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945" displays the surprising globalism of this little-known period in Japanese design, when pent-up post-1923-earthquake desires for new goods and new traditions met up with a new openness to Western arts and the rise of industrialization




































































































09.28.10
Yummy!
I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition
Appetite, curated by Alexander Tochilovsky at the Herb Lubalin Center at Cooper Union, not least because it was bite-sized.




09.26.10
Masdar: So Many Questions
I was not planning to post anything about 
Sukkah City. It all just looked like an architecture studio: so much effort, such worked-over results, and an inability to see the forest for the trees.




09.24.10
Rendering v. Reality in Sukkah City
I was not planning to post anything about
Sukkah City. It all just looked like an architecture studio: so much effort, such worked-over results, and an inability to see the forest for the trees.











09.08.10
In Dwell: Hands Off the Icons
In the 
October 2010 issue of Dwell, which celebrates the magazine’s tenth anniversary by revisiting its own (generally happy) homeowners, I offer the following Argument.




09.07.10
Coming to the V&A: Tower of Power
It is not often that 
a museum blogs about Postmodernism, Michael Sorkin (one of the great take-downs) and credits the (female) renderer who made the AT&T Building look the best it ever has.





08.30.10
Lunch with the Critics: Park51 and 15 Penn Plaza
In my 
second critical lunch with Mark Lamster, in the creepy climes of the Hotel Pennsylvania, we discuss the urbanism, politics and skyline posturing of Park51 and 15 Penn Plaza.

















07.27.10
On DO: Lunch with the Critics
Please weigh in on 
Mark Lamster and my new Design Observer feature, "Lunch with the Critics," in which we observe the new Lincoln Center.








07.20.10
Culture Shed: Where’s the Neighborhood?
CultureGrrl 
offers a critique of the NEA grant for Culture Shed, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group design for a Kunsthalle with retractable roofs over at Hudson Yards.





07.18.10
Hung Ceilings
Mad Men returns, and now it's time to speculate on the evolution of Peggy’s hair and the meaning of Betty’s dress choices




07.13.10
Time to Move On
A very nice 
house in Montauk embodies the most recent cliches in architecture: floating staircases, pocket doors, and glass floors.







07.06.10
Below Black Rock
While the plaza around the 
CBS Building in Manhattan has always seemed perverse, it is now made worse with the addition of a bank.




07.02.10
The Personality of Parks
Until Pier 6 at 
Brooklyn Bridge Park opened, my only experience of parks as a parent had been of neighborhood parks










06.17.10
Diana Center & Architectural Bull----
Though rave reviews (
Architect, Metropolis, previously New York) are rolling in for Weiss/Manfredi’s Diana Center at Barnard College, every review has praised two things that I quickly dismissed as the most basic architectural bullshit: the copper glass and the street-level transparency.







06.11.10
Op Art Eye Candy
I’m lucky that I get to live with a
Julian Stanczak painting, bought by my father-in-law in 1968, when Op Art was really something.




06.10.10
Pomo Time Machine
I’m writing more about
Warren Platner, my favorite terribly wonderful or wonderfully terrible architect.








06.02.10
Bloggers in the Archive
Geoff Manaugh’s announcement, on
BLDGBLOG, that he would be blogging from the CCA this summer irritated me, partly because the idea is not brand new.




05.27.10
The Plastics
This month’s
Vogue, which had several enraging features, is not yet fully online except for Blake Lively, bathing suits, clear plastic.






05.21.10
The Anti-Enthusiasts
Design Blogs: The Vacuum of Enthusiasm, my Design Observer manifesto on what the world of design on the internet needs, lives on in the comments.








05.14.10
It Was All Yellow
In 
Buying In, author Rob Walker avoids talking about the aesthetics of the Livestrong bracelet.




05.12.10
In Metropolis: The Visceralist
I spent a day and a half with
Peter Bohlin in deepest Pennsylvania and New York State, and was very impressed with his house projects and attitude toward design.






05.07.10
On Archpaper: Saccharine Design
My review of
Marcel Wanders’ exhibition Daydreams at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for The Architect’s Newspaper just went online and let’s just say I was not impressed.








05.02.10
What I Learned @dcritconference
The
D-Crit Conference is just a memory, so as a tribute to the afternoon presentations I saw, I offer a set of tangents.













04.15.10
All in the Execution
Ian Baldwin's review of The Grid Book calls out the coffee-table book format and it's middlebrow achievements.










04.03.10
Has the High Line Ruined Us?
I went to
Brooklyn Bridge Park on opening day in the pouring rain with stroller.






03.31.10
Moynihan on Design
At
tonight’s lecture at D-Crit, Casey Jones, director of design excellence and the arts for the U.S. General Services Administration, quoted from Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s Guiding Principles for Federal Architecture, written in 1962.




03.30.10
Texts Without Context
I keep thinking about Michiko Kakutani’s piece,
Texts Without Context, that begins the discussion of what is being lost to culture by the supremacy of the web.












03.16.10
Things of Beauty
Saul Bass matchbook covers are about the most beautiful things I have seen in some time.








03.08.10
Not A Learning Experience
The Privileges finally gives a real satire of almost-present day New York City, in which money is discussed and no one has to learn their lesson.






03.03.10
The (Architectural) Anthologist
After some digressions weird and
wonderful, the Nicholson Baker I loved from The Mezzanine and U and I and Room Temperature seems to be back, cranky and at sea and procrastinating.















02.03.10
In AN 02: As the Tide Turns
In MoMA’s 
Rising Currents exhibition, certain tropes of contemporary waterfront design immediately surfaced.

















01.13.10
The Yuck Factor
Watch
District 9 as a palate cleanser after the visual feast of Avatar.






01.07.10
On DO: Skating on the Edge of Taste
The American Restaurant in Kansas City, designed by Warren Platner, is subject of a long essay on that architect and interior designer’s career.




01.06.10
I Heart Huxtable
Ada Louise Huxtable is still the most knowledgeable, elegant, thoughtful critic out there.







12.31.09
Last Post of 2009: Interview, Casey Jones
I interviewed the GSA’s newish head of Design Excellence,
Casey Jones, earlier this month about the future of this government program to ensure better architecture for government buildings






12.21.09
Exciting Multi-Generational Moment
An essay and slideshow on the
design of James Joyce’s Ulysses by my mother, Martha Scotford, appears on Design Observer, where I was recently made a contributing writer.






















11.22.09
Another New York
Every time I get an issue of
New York Magazine lately I ask myself: is Adam Moss turning it into a men’s magazine?



















10.24.09
Petting Zoo
On Thursday I took my class on a field trip to
One Bryant Park, the sustainable skyscraper that is almost complete at the northwest corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue.























































































Observed


“You know, you’ve got to try to sneak in a little bit of humanity,” observes Steve Matteson, the designer behind Aptos—Microsoft's new “default” font. “I did that by adding a little swing to the R and the double stacked g." Adds Jon Friedman, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for design: “It’s both quirky and creates a more natural feel that brings in some of the serif font ‘je ne sais quoi’ to it”. Resistant to change (or simply longing for Calibri), font geeks are not having it. Fun fact? Aptos was originally called Bierstadt. You may well imagine, as we did, that this was a nod to the 19th century German-American landscape painter, Albert Bierstadt—but the actual translation is “Beer City”. 

In Dallas, the Better Block Foundation is sponsoring a design contest called Creating Connections, aimed at addressing the growing epidemic of loneliness by exploring the impact of design on how people connect with others.

Good design is invisible, but bad design is unignorable. Elliot Vredenburg, Associate Creative Director at Mother Design, bares it all.

Arab design is a story of globalism, evidenced through collaborations with the Arab diaspora living, working, and creating abroad, and with the expatriate community in the Middle East and North Africa. More on the highlights (and insights) from Doha Design 2024 here.

Organizations that embrace diversity tend to foster innovation, challenge ingrained thought patterns, and enhance financial performance. Its true benefits emerge when leaders and employees cultivate a sense of inclusion. How architecture is reckoning with the cultural and economic challenges of—and demands for—a more inclusive workforce.

Mapping climate change, and climate-vulnerable populations.

Recently, a number of new initiatives seeking to digitize enormous troves of once difficult-to-access records are giving African American families opportunities to recover more of their own histories. In the past, the difficulty stemmed from one critical oversight: enslaved African Americans were not recorded by their first and last names until after the 1870 census. Today, there are a number of institutions with digitized archives and searchable finding aids and more, among them, the International African American Museum’s Center for Family History in Charleston, South Carolina, and the United States Colored Troops Pension File Project. One scholar shares her discovery—and delight—in the process.

With a mission is to champion humanity-centered design, emphasizing the rights and well-being of all people and the shared ecosystem we call “the earth,  the Don Norman Design Award and Summit (DNDA) is now open for applications.

This Friday, March 1—to kickoff Women's History Month—Mellissa Huber, co-curator of the exhibition Women Dressing Women, will moderate a conversation at the Metropolitan Museum in New York on fashion, accessibility, sustainability, and design. Panelists include designer and educator Grace Jun, and the event will be livestreamed on the museum's YouTube channel.

Some seventy contemporary artists from the Middle East and North Africa are presenting the heritage of Arab design at the inaugural Design Doha Biennial, which began on February 24. “Recognizing that there are far too few platforms in our region for designers to present their work." observes Qatar Museums Chair Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, “the inauguration of Design Doha is a testament to the excellence and innovation of our region's design community”.

“Now and then, Mica Levi’s nearly absent score of serrated synthesizers rears up and snags your ear like a loop of razor wire, with long trails of reverb left hanging in the air like plumes of black smoke.” How sound design reaches in and grabs the senses, without letting go.

The creative minds at Swift Creatives are designing security systems that look like art. They call this sculptural surveillance.

Sara Little Turnbull was tiny but fierce (she stood a not-very-towering 4'11). The designer once described as “corporate America's secret weapon” was a leading practitioner for more than six decades, and remains an inspiration to countless women in design, technology, and (notably) in science. On her podcast, Lost Women of Science, American journalist Katie Hafner discusses the woman, the legend—and the N-95 mask.

Following President Biden's  2021 executive order to transform the customer experience, agencies have been rethinking how they can create organizational change and best practices—even at NASA—where design is leveraged in an effort to both build and sustain trust.  

In 1951, Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer. During a biopsy, a sample of her cancerous cells were collected without her knowledge. Education around Lacks has increased recently, and a statue and historical marker were dedicated to her last year in her birthplace of Roanoke. Now, a statue design contest is underway: they'll be accepting submissions until March 15. 

Goodbye war rooms, corner offices and—yikes—physical libraries, which have allegedly “gone the way of the landline and the Dictaphone” in law offices. Post-pandemic, with remote and hybrid work on the rise, a more collaborative, equitable spatial allocation means a more flexible, and some say more productive workplace. 

Can design be a catalyst for societal progress? Asmita Kerkar thinks it can. Her design philosophy is hinged on nurturing spaces that foster empathy and facilitate community engagement, grounded in a commitment to sustainability and inclusivity. She channels her passion into creating equitable environments, bridging the gap between design and social change

I love it. What is it?

Following the light. Letting the actors move. Envisioning—and sculpting—a mood. Jack Fisk, the production designer behind There Will Be Blood, The Revenant, and Killers of the Flower Moon, among many other award-winning films, explains it all

Tyler Perry puts the planned $800 million expansion of his studio in Atlanta on hold after seeing OpenAI’s text-to-video model Sora, which debuted Feb. 15. “Being told that it can do all of these things is one thing, but actually seeing the capabilities, it was mind-blowing,” he said. With AI, there’s no need to travel to locations or build specialized sets. The future impacts are concerning, he says. “[A]s I was looking at it, I immediately started thinking of everyone in the industry who would be affected by this, including actors and grip and electric and transportation and sound and editors, and looking at this, I’m thinking this will touch every corner of our industry.”

The racism in the yield curve: Groundbreaking research from Destin Jenkins, an assistant history professor at Stanford University, reveals how the $4 trillion municipal bond market has historically excluded Black taxpayers and disproportionately benefited infrastructure projects in white communities. (Jenkins’s research focuses on the American state, racial capitalism, and the built environment; you can watch him explain his research in a recent fireside chat with bond professionals here.)

Tesla is recalling 2.19 million vehicles because of a problem with a font. If you don’t think design matters at this point, you can’t be helped.

There’s a lot of plastic hidden in our clothes. Like, a lot.

Singapore is set to require all flights departing the country to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2026.

What’s in a label? Well, the truth, mostly. Lawsuits filed against  Gorton’sALDIConagraBumble Bee Foods, Mowi, and Red Lobster are challenging Big Fish to back up the sustainability and eco-friendly labels they put on their seafood products and brands. “From what I see, there’s a good chance at least some of the companies defending themselves are engaging in false advertising, although they may not realize what they’re doing,” says Arlin Wasserman, the founder of sustainability consultancy Changing Tastes.

Nex Benedict, a transgender teen from Oklahoma, died the day after their peers assaulted them in a school bathroom. They had been bullied for ages, but the assaults began in earnest a few months after Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed a bill in 2022 that required public school students to use bathrooms that matched the sex listed on their birth certificates. This piece from the Independent provides essential context for the assault and details of Benedict’s life.

Chatbot versions of Adolph Hitler, Donald Trump, and Unabomber Ted Kaczynski are among 100 chatbot “characters” on the busy far-right social network Gab. Most of the characters are playing to type, spewing conspiracies about COVID-19, vaccines, U.S. elections, climate change, Holocaust denial, and more. It goes downhill from there.

“People came here or already lived here, young people with lots of energy and ideas and ideals who wanted to start things,” observes Syd Staiti, Executive Director of Small Press Traffic, a Bay Area poetry organization and archive. They're turning 50 this year—and they're not alone! Bravo to all the hard-working artists and arts organizations on this list—and here's to the next 50.

Self-disruption allows companies to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating and responding to changing market dynamics rather than reacting defensively; it fosters a culture of innovation, encouraging employees to think creatively and take calculated risks; and it can even open new revenue streams and markets, ensuring long-term sustainability. Sam Aquillano, the former Executive Director of the Design Museum in Boston, explains it all.

In New Jersey, the ballot is structured in a way that favors endorsed candidates. Three candidates are making a persuasive case on why this might be a critical design problem.



Jobs | March 02