Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable died on Monday, January 7, in Manhattan at the age of 91. Her attorney, Rob Shapiro, confirmed the cause of death as cancer. Defining the role of the modern architecture critic for the popular press, Huxtable was the first full time architecture critic for The New York Times, writing for the paper for nearly 20 years beginning in 1963. She had also written for the Wall Street Journal for the last 15 years.
Born Ada Louise Landman, she was born and raised in Manhattan, and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College, CUNY, in 1941. She continued graduate studies at New York University until 1950, and worked as assistant curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) from 1946 to 1950. Out of school, she sold furniture for Bloomingdale’s where she met and married industrial designer, L. Garth Huxtable. While a Fulbright fellow, 1950-1952, and Guggenheim fellow, 1958, she began writing for architectural journals.
In 1963, she was the first full-time architecture critic at an American newspaper, The New York Times, and was award the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism. An early champion of historic preservation, she invited readers to consider the role of the built environment as it served its inhabitants and consequently brought architecture into the daily conversations of the American public. She left her post at The Times when she was appointed a MacArthur Fellow in 1981.
Throughout her career she authored 11 books, including “Four Walking Tours of Modern Architecture in New York City” (1961), “The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered: The Search for a Skyscraper Style” (1984), and the “The Unreal America: Architecture and Illusion” (1997).
Her last published article was on December 3, 2012 for the Wall Street Journal in which she criticized the proposal from Foster + Partners to remove the stacks beneath the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library.
Her husband Garth Huxtable died in 1989. She had no children and leaves no immediate survivors.