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Obituary: Ada Louise Huxtable (1921 – 2013)

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Architecture critic and writer Ada Louise Huxtable, has died aged 93

Ada Louise Huxtable was a true New Yorker, born and raised in New York City. She studied at the City University of New York, from where she graduated in 1941, and later worked as the curatorial assistant for architecture and design at the MOMA in the city from 1946 to 1950.

Describing herself as an ‘unrepentant modernist’, she was a passionate advocate of the steel and glass aesthetic synonymous with many of New York’s buildings and, although she had a knowledge of all building types, her passion was for architecture with a social concern.

Huxtable made history by being the first full time architecture critic at a US newspaper when she joined the New York Times in 1963 - a post she held until 1982.

Recognised for her writing she was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1970.

She was appointed as architecture critic at the Wall Street Journal in 1997, where she worked until her death.

She was known for critical writing which did not hold back, and this did not change with age. Writing last year in the Wall Street Journal on Foster + Partners changes to the New York Public Library she said:

‘After extensive study of the library’s conception and construction I have become convinced that irreversible changes of this magnitude should not be made in this landmark building.

‘There are better options than turning the library into a hollowed-out hybrid of new and old. The radically different 21st-century model deserves a radically different style of its own, dramatically contemporary and flexible enough to accommodate rapid technological change. Sell the surplus Fifth Avenue property at 34th Street. Keep the Mid-Manhattan building; the location is perfect. Let Foster + Partners loose on the Mid-Manhattan building; the results will be spectacular, and probably no more costly than the extravagant and destructive plan the library has chosen.’

Huxtable was a prolific writer, producing more than ten books on architecture, including a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright in 2004.

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