On Louis Kahn's Situated Modernism:

"This book will durably change the paradigm by which we have viewed Louis Kahn now for several decades."
-- Francesco Passanti

"This book offers a refreshingly new reading of Louis Kahn...far from being a solitary genius, Kahn was deeply involved in the discourse of his time, searching for an architecture that would foster community within a democratic society."
-- Alan Colquhoun, Princeton University

"This book attempts to re-define Modernism through Kahn, and one cannot help having sympathy and respect for the attitudes expressed in such a unique work."
-- Hiroshi Matsukama, A+U

On Anxious Modernisms:

"This book gracefully and intelligently refutes the perception of 'the several decades of architectural culture that followed the Second World War as an interregnum between an expiring modernism and a dawning postmodernism.'"
-- John Morris Dixon, ARQ

"Goldhagen proposes an interesting framework for analysis that accounts for both the Modern Movement's historical reality and its complexity." --Hilde Heynen, Back from Utopia: The Challenge of the Modern Movement


Sarah Williams Goldhagen is a critic, theorist, and historian of modern and contemporary architecture. Her articles have been published in The New Republic, The American Prospect, Art in America, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Metropolis, The New York Times, and World Architecture (UK).  She has also contributed to scholarly publications such as Assemblage, the Harvard Design Magazine, and the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians.



Seeing the Building for the Trees
2012/01 - The New York Times

A REVOLUTION in cognitive neuroscience is changing the kinds of experiments that scientists conduct, the kinds of questions economists ask and, increasingly, the ways that architects, landscape architects and urban designers shape our built environment.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file



A Vision Beyond Rebuilding
2011/10 - The New York Times

Sometimes, throughout history and all over the world, cities shrink. Each such city suffers its own tale of woe, but the visible economic and social consequences of shrinking cities are everywhere the same: neighborhoods disfigured by vacant homes and apartment houses, which in turn depress the values of adjacent properties, which leads to further abandonment and disinvestment, which creates a downward spiral that simply must be stopped.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Valuable China
2011/10 - The New Republic

It has a centralized, repressive government for which its citizens do not vote. Local authorities come to people’s houses in the middle of the night to arrest them on bogus charges. Censors control access to information, monitoring the Internet and approving or even writing elementary school textbooks. Corrupt government officials routinely elevate to power the obedient, the well-connected, and the cash-plentiful above the meritorious. Laborers, skilled and unskilled, work breathtakingly long hours. The country occupies foreign territory and affords its colonized people freedom neither of speech nor of worship.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

How Steve Jobs Turned Design Into a Necessity
2011/10 - The New Republic

Even the “Genius” at your local Apple store admits that your dollar buys significantly more computing power in a PC. iTunes can be infuriatingly glitchy and difficult to navigate. The iPod is so delicate a flower that it breaks, seemingly, if you exhale in its vicinity. What, then, explains a world awash in longing, admiration, and loss in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death last week at the age of 56?
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Tarnished Stirling
2010/12 - The New Republic

Post-modernism in architecture came to the public eye when, in the late 1970s, The New York Times printed on its front page the astonishing image of Philip Johnsonís model for the proposed AT&T (now Sony) building in midtown Manhattan. What Johnson designed was an ostentatious f-you to postwar corporate modernismís steel-and-glass, rectilinear reserve that simultaneously played right into the hands of corporate conservatism, which was only too happy to pursue legitimation by reference to historical precedent. Here, Johnson offered up a Chippendale cabinet, blown up to a ridiculous 37 stories, and clad in a paper-thin, pink masonry verneer.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

The Secret of Park51
2010/10 - The New Republic

Do we really know what the new Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero would look like? For weeks, we have heard and read that Park51 is in fact not a mosque, with its developers contending that it is modeled on two very American building types: the Jewish Community Center and the YMCA. Early sketches of the project suggest this much is true.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Park Here
2010/09 - The New Republic

A common plaint of contemporary social criticism is that American society has become more an archipelago than a nation, increasingly balkanized into ethnic, class, faith, and interest groups whose members rarely interact meaningfully with people whose affiliations they do not in large measure share. The pervasiveness of this phenomenon of American selfaggregation can be debated, but its existence is pretty plain. It has been a feature of American culture since at least the 1950s (some would argue long before), when the white middle and upper classes began their mass exodus from cities to settle in more socially and culturally homogeneous suburbs.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

On Background
2010/08 - The New Republic

Europe's cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and baptisteries cover the countryside like Veronica's veil. They comprise the continent's landmarks and focal attractions and, for centuries, have been integral to its culture. It is curious, then, that, in the history of art, architecture has been a relatively infrequent subject-in Western painting before 1900, only scattered examples come to mind...
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Place of Grace
2009/11 - The New Republic

Over a decade ago, I trundled my good-natured family across miles of southern Switzerland to see every building I could by Peter Zumthor, who is this year's winner of the Pritzker Prize. Then as now, most of Zumthor's work was off the beaten track, not only literally but metaphorically, little known to the general public although admired by professionals. What drew me to make the trek to his work was what, from pictures, appeared to be its conceptual rigor, its unabashed monumentality, and an attention to detail so fanatical that every thresh-old, corner, and joint seemed to become an opportunity to rethink the way hands make buildings.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Stick Stuck
2009/02 - The New Republic

One of the items in "Home Delivery: Fabricating the Modern Dwelling," the exhibition recently at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was a short film, made in 1930, called "Houses While You Wait." A grainy black-and-white screen opens up with a view of a vacant suburban lot. A delivery truck rolls up, filled with wall-size metal panels and other materials. A retinue of somewhat scruffy white men in baggy pants unloads the cargo and deposits it on the site.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Reason to be Cheerful
2008/08 - The New Republic

The Pritzker Architecture Prize is commonly described as "the Nobel Prize of architecture." It was indeed modeled on the Nobel, and its winners, like Nobel laureates, receive a bronze medal and a cash award. Yet the imputed equivalence between the two prizes is misleading. Alfred Nobel created his prize to reward specific and identifiable accomplishments that advance knowledge or create new lines of inquiry in a given field. (Leave aside the Peace Prize, which is a more complicated affair.)
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Stopped Making Sense
2008/04 - The New Republic

To build a building is hard; to criticize a building is, by comparison, easy. For a serious critic, the impulse to write uncomplimentary things should always provoke a bout of preliminary introspection. Does one write from the lofty principle that truth must be spoken to power, or at least to fashion? Will the reader come away from this exercise in scorching criticism of buildings and urban spaces with a heightened appreciation for the built environment and its importance to our daily lives?
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Making Waves
2008/02 - The New Republic
For well over a decade now, we have been flipping through glossy photographs and watching videos of Frank Gehry carefully studying crumpled wads of paper, selecting which one to slide across some large drawing table to an assistant-in-waiting, who will scan it into the computer and, with Gehry, endeavor to make and call it architecture. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao celebrated its tenth anniversary this fall with a group of exhibits as self-congratulatory as the fanfare surrounding Gehry's most recently completed project, his IAC (Inter-Active Corp) Building on the west side of Manhattan.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Ultraviolet: Alvar Aalto's Embodied Rationalism
Fall 2007 - Harvard Design Magazine
In the story of Modernism, told and retold, interpreted and reinterpreted, Alvar Aalto is often treated as the most important early Modernist who doesn't fit. The mainstream, nearly filmic narrative begins with the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and then, in a series of cuts, presents a central cast of characters in which Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, J. J. P. Oud (sometimes), and Walter Gropius play leading roles. Afterwards, separately, comes the short on Aalto.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Legacy-Builder
2007/09 - The New Republic
Now right-thinking people who stand at any place on the political spectrum can say that, in one instance at least, President Bush has demonstrated judgment superior to that of his father. Only twelve presidential libraries grace our land, all run with public funding by the National Archives and Records Administration. The first president to be honored with this by now de rigueur monument to posterity...
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

American Collapse
2007/08 - The New Republic
Within fourteen days of each other, two rush-hour calamities: a bridge collapse and a steam-pipe explosion. In Minneapolis, a forty-year-old bridge along highway I-35W suddenly dropped sixty feet into the Mississippi River, killing at least five people and injuring approximately one hundred more.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Project Runway
2007/02 - The New Republic
Fashion and architecture share certain ideas and methods, and they may even draw inspiration from similar sources. But they are not exactly "parallel practices," as a new exhibition claims.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Dorm Art
2006/11 - The New Republic
The campus student center is always a grab-bag of a building, forcing a hodgepodge of functions--fitness centers, auditoriums, eating areas--into a single, often unwieldy design. But two new centers, at the University of Cincinnati and Wellesley College, create a dynamic and yet unified atmosphere by putting the human experience first.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Extra Large
2006/07 - The New Republic
Rem Koolhaas, with his visionary conception of architecture and urban design, has redirected the architectural thought and practices of a generation. But the boldest manifestations of his theories--gargantuan master plans that deliberately flout their surroundings--invite a troubling question: Does Koolhaas have any interest in creating useable public spaces? Does he care about people?
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

For The Birds
2006/01 - The New Republic
The easy symbolism of Santiago Calatrava's buildings--a planetarium that looks like an eye, a transportation hub that suggests a bird in flight--has made him one of today's most popular architects. But this kitschy reliance on natural forms ignores the real demands of contemporary civic architecture.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Something to Talk About: Modernism, Discourse, Style
2005/06 - JSAH
Modernism in architecture is not, and never was, a style, but rather an ongoing discussion among geographically dispersed practitioners about the ideal role of architecture in modern society and culture.
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

The Production of Locality in Josep Luis Sert's Peabody Terrace
2005/05 - Harvard Design Magazine
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Profile in Metropolis
2003/08 - Metropolis
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Multiple Failures of Architecture Education
2003/01 - The Chronicle Review
"Who's to blame for the lackluster designs of our nation's urban spaces-the architects, their clients, or the education system that taught them all?"
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Boring Buildings
2001/12 - The American Prospect
Why is American Architecture so Bad?
click here to download the article as a .pdf file

Review of Mark Wigley's White Walls, Designer Dresses
1997/03 - JSAH
click here to download the article as a .pdf file