A Woman to Know: Ada Louise Huxtable

We will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed. — Ada

(image via The Ada Louise Huxtable Archive)


She hated demolition. She hated Madison Square Garden (as she so famously wrote at the time, "we deserve tin-can architecture in a tin-horn culture"). She hated "building big" without purpose and "colonial Williamsburging" without thought. And, oddly enough, she even hated the renovation of the New York Public Library.

But she loved Penn Station (the old one, obviously). She loved the Empire State Building. She loved watching cities evolve and grow and build around older structures. She loved how renovation and preservation created a new, diverse, living metropolis. And most of all, she loved when people took architecture seriously — as her colleague Paul Goldberger remembered, "She has made people pay attention. She has made people care. She has made architecture matter in our culture in a way that it did not before her time."

In 1963, Ada became the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper, first writing for The New York Times and later for The Wall Street Journal. She was the first writer to ever win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism — not just for architectural criticism but for any criticism.

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