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We now leave the hostile shores of the British Empire now and return to our own, though no less hostile, countryside. This week found the release of Architectural Record‘s “American Architecture Today” feature, which asked six critics, each in different cities, to give a review of what’s going on in architecture through the lens of their respective stomping home turfs. For the most part, everyone from Paul Goldberger in NY to LA’s Christopher Hawthorn is pretty optimistic about the future, though there’s a fair share of negatives in there too, like Chicago’s Blair Kamin‘s oft-groaned-about-around-UnBeige-HQ complaint:

Chicago, like most American cities, has experienced a glut of new condominium projects. “Most buildings going up are just junk,” Kamin says. “You can talk about a resurgence if you just focus on the Perry Street apartments by Richard Meier [in New York], but if you step back, the field is weak.” He wonders if the typical condo — a tower on top of a parking-garage podium — isn’t a creative trap. “These are the buildings that are killing cities and giving us this problem of density without urbanity,” he says.

Bravo. If the dying housing market has been good for anything, it’s at least killed the virus that is tacky, cheap condos.