Alissa Walker

Writer / United States /

Alissa Walker’s Notable Books of 2012

2 books
Diane Keaton
Text by D. J. Waldie

It’s no secret that Diane Keaton is an architecture junkie: The Academy Award-winning actress has become a fixture at Los Angeles preservation events and has restored several notable homes across the city. Her previous book, California Romantica, was a luscious love letter to the Spanish Colonial and Mission residences that dot the Southern California landscape, and with House, Keaton broadens her aesthetic focus, moving beyond one region and style to examine how contemporary design defines the way we live now. Through the work of whimsical residences by architects like Annabelle Selldorf and Tom Kundig, one theme emerges: designers have the power to see the potential in our most forgotten spaces and materials, and transform them into a home.

If I could hand-pick someone to write the handbook for my profession, it would be the passionate, provocative, prolific Brooklyn-based architectural critic Alexandra Lange. In her singular voice, Lange essentially allows us to sit in on her lectures for the graduate classes she teaches at New York University and School of Visual Arts, including entire pieces by famous critics—like Herbert Muschamp's legendary review of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao—followed by comprehension questions. But even those of us who don’t aspire to make a living off our writing will benefit from reading Lange's book. While her intent is to educate the next generation of architectural critics, she is also focused on expanding the profession—building an army of citizen critics. Those of us who live in buildings should not only decide how we feel about a particular building, she explains, we should actively aspire to make the building, the block, the neighborhood, better. Writing About Architecture purports to be a textbook, but it’s really Lange's highly personal guide for any urban dweller on how to experience, explain, and improve our cities.

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