Design: A Dreamer Who Is Fuzzy About the Details

With a new show at MOMA, Steven Holl's influence grows

When curators at New York City's Museum of Modern Art were preparing the current exhibit of the work of Steven Holl, the architect did not just settle back and wallow in the flattery of the high Establishment. Instead, Holl -- who is opinionated, uncompromising and, concerning architectural details, fussy to the point of fanaticism -- turned opinionated, uncompromising and fussy.

He demanded that MOMA mount only black-and-white photographs of his work because he believes color photos encourage an appreciation of the merely picturesque in architecture. He insisted that some of the walls of the gallery be covered with rough plaster, like...