A Critical Life: Ada Louise Huxtable


I am now researching a biography of the late and legendary Ada Louise Huxtable (1921–2013), the first full-time architecture critic in the United States. Huxtable worked at the New York Times from 1963 to 1982, winning the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded for criticism and joining the Times editorial board in 1973. After writing independently in the 1980s and early ’90s, she served as architecture critic at the Wall Street Journal from 1997 until her death in 2013. The book will be published by W. W. Norton.

New York Public Library (Carrère & Hastings) under construction, 1907. The stacks were custom-built of steel and cast iron by Snead & Company Iron Works.  Photo courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections

New York Public Library (Carrère & Hastings) under construction, 1907. The stacks were custom-built of steel and cast iron by Snead & Company Iron Works.
Photo courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections

I’m thrilled to be working with Norton, a house based for the last forty years in this fabulous Shreve, Lamb & Harmon building (500 Fifth Avenue) overlooking the New York Public Library — the subject of Huxtable’s famous last stand in 2012. 500 Fifth was finished in the same year (1931) as the firm’s better-known Empire State Building.

I’m thrilled to be working with Norton, a house based for the last forty years in this fabulous Shreve, Lamb & Harmon building (500 Fifth Avenue) overlooking the New York Public Library — the subject of Huxtable’s famous last stand in 2012. 500 Fifth was finished in the same year (1931) as the firm’s better-known Empire State Building.

 
 

 

 

The Ada Louise Huxtable Papers are housed at the Getty Research Institute, part of the Getty Center complex in Los Angeles (Richard Meier & Partners, 1997). This was the scene one evening after a long day in the archives: the sun, the moon, Venus, and, if you look very closely, Orion.  Photo: Christine Cipriani

The Ada Louise Huxtable Papers are housed at the Getty Research Institute, part of the Getty Center complex in Los Angeles (Richard Meier & Partners, 1997). This was the scene one evening after a long day in the archives: the sun, the moon, Venus, and, if you look very closely, Orion.
Photo: Christine Cipriani

New York Public Library (Carrère & Hastings) under construction, 1905; marble work on Fifth Avenue facade.  Photo courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections

New York Public Library (Carrère & Hastings) under construction, 1905; marble work on Fifth Avenue facade.
Photo courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections