The City: Manhattan Malady

"New York has not built a single municipally sponsored building of generally recognized excellence since City Hall was designed in 1803." This indictment of the municipal mediocrity of the city that likes to call itself "the nation's front office" came last week from New York's 71-year-old City Club in announcing that it could find no worthy recipient for the Bard Awards for Excellence in Civic Architecture.

A committee of experts had studied 24 entries—seven public housing projects, four schools, two court buildings, two piers, a hospital and eight miscellaneous buildings—with a total construction cost of almost $200 million. They reported that...

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