As very long time ago, in an office near the top of Three Park Avenue, a group of people were busy publishing a new book by Paul Goldberger, the "new" architecture critic of the NYTimes. The book was entitled On The Rise and the publishing company was New York Times Books. Everyone was quite excited about the book and it turned out to be a good one. But I do remember one editor remarking to the other, "Yes, he's quite good but he's no Ada Louise Huxtable."
If nothing else, Goldberger deserved a lifetime achievement award for just sitting down in Ms. Huxtable's chair. As it stands, he too has won a Pulitzer prize and has put together an impressive career. But he'll never be Ada Louise Huxtable because she was the very first and that's a position no one else can assume. But to write that Huxtable was "just" the first short changes her an entire treasury of accomplishments that others have better summarized elsewhere.
The only point I want to make here, in my own humble space, is that Ms. Huxtable -- through a unique combination of will, talent, and taste -- elevated the consideration of contemporary architecture from engineering to art. If it had not been for Huxtable (and her esteemable successor) the conversations about the AT&T building, Pan Am building, Seagram building and many others -- they never would have taken place at all.
When I went to school in Cambridge, Mass., I met a fellow named Tom Pecoraro, also of blessed memory. Tom had a test he administered a personality test to everyone he met for the first time: "Do you prefer the Empire State Building or the Chrysler Building?" Without Ms. Huxtable, Tom wouldhave had to ask us if we were Gershwin or Porter people or something else entirely.
Thank you so much, Ms. Huxtable.