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Architecture Critic Needs Perspective


For a publication which prides itself on being fresh and nonconformist, why do you keep trotting out Edwin Slipek Jr.'s pompous criticism of city architecture (The Law Is Luxurious," Arts & Culture, Sept. 3)?

Yes, yes. I know. Ed is a respected urban architectural commentator, as you have reminded me in the past. But Mr. Slipek never met a building (that he didn't design) that he doesn't put down, often sneeringly. He invariably fails to address the fact that the building must please the folks paying to have it designed, built and used in order to get built. Most architects learn that lesson or change careers.

Nor does he seem to ever take account of the situation on the ground — real facts like the need being filled by the building, monetary restraints, available-land constraints and the already extant surrounding neighborhood — which also dictate design and aesthetic choices, and all the more so when the building is being erected by some agency of the state, spending more-or-less public money.

I suggest that Mr. Slipek's reviews have become as predictable as the tides. Why not ask some other architects for opinions?

Charles Long

Old Church

Editors' note: While Edwin Slipek Jr. is an architectural historian and honorary member of the Virginia Society of the American Institute of Architects, he is not an architect.

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