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Building to No Purpose

Architecture can reflect the progress of a civilization, but Hudson Yards is not about civilization. Its buildings reflect the futility of a “progressive” design sensibility cut off from the past and wedded to novelty and formal dissonance as ends in themselves. The mixed-use development rises . . . . Continue Reading »

Crimes in Concrete

Making Dystopia:  The Strange Rise and Survival of Architectural Barbarism by james stevens curl oxford, 592 pages, $60 In a recent debate in Prospect magazine on the question of whether modern architecture has ruined British towns and cities, Professor James Stevens Curl, . . . . Continue Reading »

The Theology of Foreign Policy

On matters of foreign policy, Americans are divided into two hidden camps. Not Republicans versus Democrats, nor liberals versus conservatives, nor rival schools of foreign policy you read about in college courses. The divide is primarily religious in nature—or perhaps “theological” is the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Lost Modernist

David Jones: Engraver, Soldier, Painter, Poetby thomas dilworthcounterpoint, 432 pages, $39.50 The Sleeping Lord and Other Fragmentsby david jonesfaber & faber, 112 pages, £15.99 Epoch and Artistby david jonesfaber & faber, 320 pages, £17.99 The Dying Gaul and Other Writingsby david jonesfaber & . . . . Continue Reading »

Monument to Failure

The General Services Administration, together with the D.C. State Historic Preservation Office, has determined that one of the most banal buildings in the nation’s capital is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It is the Department of Education’s headquarters, originally . . . . Continue Reading »

Let’s Listen to the Pope on Climate

The Syllabus of Errors, issued in 1864 under the auspices of Pope Pius IX, famously ends by condemning the proposition that “The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization.”Is Pope Francis a latter day Pio Nono? Such . . . . Continue Reading »

Ulysses and the God of Irony

Allow me to summarize the plot of a 644-page Modernist masterpiece, James Joyce’s Ulysses: Two guys meet one day. The day in question is June 16, 1904 (Happy 111st anniversary!). The guys in question are Stephen Dedalus, twenty-two, poet; and Leopold Bloom, thirty-eight, ad canvasser. Stephen . . . . Continue Reading »

Building on Truth

Building is a willful act of symbolic import, sometimes intended and sometimes not, and all architecture expresses the power of its makers and their aspiration to legitimate authority. This is true of individual buildings, public spaces, and all human settlements. Temple, forum, cathedral, city . . . . Continue Reading »

Theology After the Revolution

Twentieth-Century Catholic Theologians: From Chenu to Ratzinger by fergus kerr blackwell, 240 pages, $29.95 Over the last decade, a Scottish Dominican named Fergus Kerr has produced a series of books designed to orient readers to contemporary trends. In the 1997 Immortal Longings, he discussed a . . . . Continue Reading »

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