The Ouroussovian dodge

In the end, it is the public’s responsibility to do the hard work of parsing the difference between superficial creations designed to cover up a hidden, cynical agenda, and sincere efforts to create a more enlightened vision of a civilization that is evolving at a brutal pace.

Maybe so, Nic: maybe so. But if that’s the case, then surely it’s the critic’s responsibility to present things to architecture’s various publics in a way they can get their respective heads around? To explain the issues in play, many of which will be far from self-explanatory to people who don’t spend their days immersed in the domain? To demonstrate how a particular proposal responds or does not respond to one or another conception of the public good, or advances one agenda over another?

Not to mince words: it’s your job. You’ve been invested with a certain amount of power to frame these issues, lent to you by an institution with considerable reach and influence. I can hardly think of a pulpit bullier. Now use it.

3 responses to “The Ouroussovian dodge”

  1. Enrique Ramirez says :

    Wow, what a strange editorial by Ouroussoff. It not only reads as a bad amalgam of post-criticality’s greatest misses, but also as a clear statement of how neoliberalism can be used to vindicate architecture’s (former) avant-garde.

  2. AG says :

    I think he’s settling into his role as the anti-Muschamp, is what’s going on.

    The Times, and arguably the city at large and the community of architects embedded within it, had had its fill of Herbert’s vivid passions, oddball emphases, and unacknowledged conflicts of interest. They went looking for someone who wasn’t going to do that to them again, and they got him.

    The, or one, trouble is that Ouroussoff seems to utterly lack Herbert’s understanding that the role of Times architecture critic is more akin to that of public advocate than anything else. Herbert’s gifts – calling something what it is, for example – were well suited to that role, and much less well-suited to any pretense at objectivity.

    Way I see it, in his (no-doubt welcomed) effort to craft himself as the anti-Muschamp, Ouroussoff seems to be having a hard time calling out schemes like Related’s Hudson Yards entry for the crass grabs they are. By passing the buck to some nebulous and fictive “public,” he’s seriously ducking the challenge inherent to the job: lively, informed criticism is what helps produce the responsive public in the first place.

  3. sevensixfive says :

    Great pull quote from the article, Adam.

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