To an entire generation of people interested in architecture and the city, Herbert was a walking, talking flashpoint. It was impossible not to have an opinion about the man. I can’t tell you how many times I sat smiling and listened to young architects rant about his sweeping judgments and notorious intimacy with most of the people he was writing about – smiling, ’cause to me he was just an insightful, hysterically funny and extraordinarily generous friend.
It seems somehow wrong to have to write these words from the over-the-top terrace of a Bali resort, overlooking the meanders of a sacred river with triple-canopy jungle a hundred meters off my left shoulder. As beautiful as it is here, I feel like I should be slouched comfortably in that eternal corner booth at the Odeon, pounding back the G&Ts.
Here’s to you, Herbert. You let me teach you about the two or three things I knew, and in return you taught me something much larger: how to see my city – all cities, but New York most especially – with new eyes. I’m going to miss you.