Herbert Muschamp Dead at 59

Those of us who write about architecture and design have read a great deal of Herbert Muschamp, former architecture critic for the New York Times. He was at times accused of "iconoclasm and obscurantism and unapologetic dilettantism" (observer) but his "wildly ranging, often deeply personal reviews made him one of the most influential architecture critics of his generation."

Nicolae Ouroussoff, the current critic, writes: Mr. Muschamp seemed as interested in the ideas that pushed architecture forward as he was in the successes and failures of buildings themselves. He was also known for weaving together seemingly unrelated themes in an arch, self-deprecating way that helped break down the image of the critic as an all-knowing figure who wrote from atop a pedestal.

Mr. Muschamp's reviews could also be devastating, and maddening to readers who took exception to his quirky — and, some argued, self-indulgent — voice. "Herbert's criticism was full of passion — too much for some readers," said Joseph Lelyveld, the former executive editor of The Times who hired Mr. Muschamp. "But that passion lit up his writing and the world of architecture. One of his great themes was that New York deserved real architecture, for our times — not what developers often try to pass off."

Herbert Muschamp, dead of lung cancer at 59. ::New York Times