Like many cities with a long history and a dynamic future, New York is constantly preserving and dismantling itself, enshrining memory and erasing it at the same time. Development and preservation are often considered irreconcilable opposites, but the truth is that change and nostalgia are the sweet and sour of life in the city, complementary opposites that urban dwellers keep in unconscious equilibrium. Recognizing that we all live with this tension can help us work out the tricky moral calculus of preservation: how to nurture an old city even as it keeps drawing new people.
Justin Davidson has been the architecture and classical music critic at New York magazine since 2007, writing about a broad range of urban, civic, and design issues. Before that, he spent 12 years as classical music critic at Newsday, where he also wrote about architecture and was a regular commentator on cultural issues. He won a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2002, an American Society of Newspaper Editors criticism (ASNE) award, and the 2015 Stephen A. Kliment Oculus Award for Architectural Journalism from the American Institute of Architects, New York Chapter.
A native of Rome, Davidson graduated from Harvard and later earned a doctoral degree in music composition at Columbia University. He has contributed to many publications, including The New Yorker, W., The New York Times Book Review, Condé Nast Traveler, Pursuits, and Travel and Leisure. He was a regular columnist for the website Wondering Sound. He has taught at the Design Criticism program at the School of Visual Arts, the Goldring Arts Journalism Program of Syracuse University and NEA Arts Journalism Institutes. He is currently at work on a book, Magnetic City, an ambler’s companion to New York, to be published by Spiegel & Grau (Random House), in spring 2017.
This event is co-sponsored by Urban Planning and the Humanities Center.