What Does it Take to Become an Architecture Critic?

"Minimize description and maximize observation" were among the nuggets of advice delivered by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Blair Kamin to a recent class of Harvard students eager to learn how to think and write like an activist critic.
April 10, 2013, 5am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune and a current Nieman Fellow, once described architecture—for better or worse—as the 'inescapable art,'" writes Dina Kraft. "One can avoid the play, film or restaurant a critic just trashed, he argued, but not our built surroundings."

"And at Harvard nothing is as architecturally present as the iconic gates that surround the Yard. Kamin calls them 'the architectural DNA' of the university. With "Rate the Gates," a one-week course that he co-taught at Harvard this past January, his aim was to instruct students how to think and write like a critic," explains Kraft.

"In the Internet age, everybody, it would seem, is a critic because everyone has the capacity to express an opinion and post it on the Web, via a comment box or a blog. This shift presents a challenge to traditional critics from the pre-digital age. Why should their voice count more than other voices? Are they out-of-touch elitists? How should they assert authority?" asked Kamin.

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Published on Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in Nieman Reports
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