Hawthorne new LAT architecture critic

The L.A. Times picked Christopher Hawthorne, currently at Slate magazine, to be the paper's next architecture critic. The frequent New York Times contributor replaces Nicolai Ouroussoff, who left some months ago for a more high profile spot at the NYT. (Still no word on the LAT theater critic slot, vacant going on three years.) The memo on Hawthorne from Deputy Managing Editor John Montorio follows:

To: The Staff
From: John Montorio, Deputy Managing Editor

I am delighted to announce that Christopher Hawthorne has been named as The Times' new architecture critic, effective November 1.

Christopher's sophisticated and lucid writing will be familiar to the many readers who have followed his work in Slate, where he's currently architecture critic, as contributing editor to Metropolis magazine, where he does both features and critical essays on architecture and design, and as a regular contributor to The New York Times, where he's written on these subjects as well.

He also is a teaching fellow at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where he and The New Yorker's Paul Goldberger recently led a seminar for graduate students in journalism and urban planning on rebuilding at the World Trade Center site. Christopher is the coauthor of "The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture," which is forthcoming from Princeton Architectural Press and is co-curating an exhibition of the same title that will open next year at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C. Like George W. Bush and John Kerry, Christopher graduated from Yale -- class of 1993 -- and in 1998 was the recipient of a year-long fellowship for arts and culture journalists at Columbia.

Those are the facts. Here's what's exciting: Christopher is one of those rare critics whose mastery of his own field is matched by his passion for good writing and his respect for readers. The result is a brand of criticism at once authoritative and accessible -- something ideally suited to the needs of a metropolitan newspaper printed in the world's most vibrantly creative architectural environment. You'll find that Christopher approaches buildings not as isolated works of art, but as part of an urban fabric. He's also a writer who shares daily journalism's urgent sense of what's news.

Please join me in welcoming Christopher to The Times, as I'm confident our readers will be doing as soon as his byline begins to appear next month.

Hawthorne's latest (and last?) piece for Slate calls the new downtown Caltrans headquarters "the widest, most imposing wall you've ever seen." He posted his own photo of the wall, something he won't have to do at the LAT. Previous posts on the Caltrans architecture: This explains a lot, That big thing downtown, Downtown boom is not all lofts.

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