Witold Rybczynski’s 18th book, “How Architecture Works: A Humanist’s Toolkit,” opens with a quarrel in its title. By any definition of humanism, architecture has been broken for at least seven decades. The book, published in October by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, offers a tool kit for examining architecture but not for fixing it.
Indeed, Rybczynski the architecture critic fails to do what many dictionaries fail to do: say what is correct. Most dictionaries just describe a bunch of meanings and leave the proper usage up to you. Well, thanks a heap!
Rybczynski asserts with pride that he, too, has no “agenda.” Why not? Is it not the job of an architecture critic to have an agenda? Almost all architecture critics have an agenda. It is to promote modern architecture while looking down their noses at new traditional architecture, when they acknowledge its existence at all.
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