I am thrilled to announce a major career change.
I have been appointed to a new position with the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC). As its Director of Design Strategic Initiatives, I—and my team in formation—will be helping the agency to build its already impressive capacity in environmental sustainability and resiliency. We’re engaging issues of equity—by just about any definition—in the design of facilities, consulting with agency clients and outside experts. All of this is tied into the city’s Design Excellence program, since appealing, thoughtful design is innately more equitable, and can frequently catalyze growth.
It’s a dream job because it makes use of—and builds on—skills and knowledge I have developed over years as a journalist, professor, and consultant. So stay in touch, and I’ll do the same.
It has been a great pleasure, and a formidable challenge, writing for years as both a critic and journalist. I have learned so much speaking with the era’s most talented architects, and digging deeply into the projects that transform skylines and urban identity. I have been happy to tell the stories of great innovators who have advanced technology, urban culture, and urban livability.
But as urban challenges grow and diversify, I have gotten an itch to become involved in a deeper, more hands-on way. DDC challenges me to “walk” my journalistic “talk.” It’s a big step, but exciting!
My critical and journalistic voice will not disappear, but the demands of the job will limit what I can write. Working for the City of New York will certainly alter—and I hope, deepen—my perspective.
I hope I’ll continue to merit your support and interest if not in the realm of writing and criticism then as a stakeholder and participant in the success of New York and other cities.
Gary Hack says
Jim, Good luck on your new role. Make a difference! Gary Hack
Ko Wibowo says
Enjoy your new endeavor! Look forward to hearing more in different way. Walk the talk is a very important challenge.
Stephen Goldsmith says
While this definitely takes me by surprise, the city will be a better place when you and your “team in formation” begin addressing problems of equity.
I’ll continue having my students use The Agile City as one of their texts, and look forward to addenda that demonstrates the value of your new engagement.
We need you here on the other side, thanks for doing this.
Jamie Katz says
Very exciting news. We need people of your talents and wisdom doing this work. Congratulations, Jim!
Martha Fleischman says
How exciting! You are certainly the right man for the job and I look forward to hearing more about your journey in this new role. Good luck!
Albert Vecerka says
Congratulations Jim! It sounds super exciting!
David Brussat says
Jim, I wish you well in your new job. I will miss your even-handed accounts of architecture and its various issues, even though I mostly disagree with your opinion. Anthony Flint suggested that I read your writing about a year ago, and I have done so since. I think I may have critiqued one or two of your pieces on my blog. He also suggested you might be a good person to talk to about surviving departure from a longstanding writing job. I failed to touch base with you on that, I’m afraid. Oh well, c’est la vie. Again, I wish you well and hope you will still write the occasional piece. – David Brussat
Frank Sanchis says
Smart move, Jim, glad to hear of this. Since Historic Preservation is an eminently sustainable activity, I hope you will be able to forge a strategic relationship between DDC and LPC. lIt would be both natural and productive. Good luck!
Mike Crosbie says
Jim, I guess with a headline like that it’s probably not a bad time to move on! Good luck in your new endeavors!
Leo Blackman says
Congrats Jim – i can’t wait to see what you’ll do! Leo
Sarah Williams Goldhagen says
Wow, we will miss your voice. Good luck!
Alan Karchmer says
Congratulations Jim. This sounds like a natural fit, and an even greater opportunity to put the principles you so eloquently advocate into practice.
Linda Viertel says
Adding my congratulations to others you have received, though I will miss your insightful comments on architectural projects, urban planning and municipal environmental issues – especially those throughout the county I may never have the opportunity to experience. I trust your opinion that much. NYC is lucky to have you overseeing design initiatives – good luck helping our city become more “agile”, environmentally sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. Our officials have entrusted leadership into the best of hands.
John V says
Major congratulations! Happy to hear and delighted … but will you update us, even a bit, as to how it’s going?
Libby Mark says
We join the chorus of congratulations, Jim, and are delighted that this critical aspect of Gotham’s future is in your care. We will miss your byline, but know that we’ll continue to hear your voice in new ways in the cityscape. We will watch for your team’s news.
Julie iovine says
Congrats, Jim —So fantastic whenever journos take that deep leap of faith into the real world. Good Luck!
Paul Goldberger says
My sadness at the loss of your truly valued and respected critical voice is balanced by my excitement about your new venture. Architecture criticism’s loss is New York City’s gain. Good luck with this new chapter.
Mary Rowe says
Great news Jim! Very excited for you and for the City!
Julie D. Taylor, Hon. AIA/LA says
Congrats, Jim, on this exciting new venture. Thanks, always, for your support.
Jack Viertel says
The City is gaining a real asset, and it’ll be hard to be without your voice regularly in our in-boxes. But this is great news, and I can only imagine the impact you’ll have on a city government that is in real need of wisdom and the ability to communicate it. Well done!!
Isabelle Huiban says
It has been a pleasure to read your reviews over the past years. You are a talented jourbalist and I wish you all the best on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
Salvatore LaRosa says
Dear Jim, What wonderful news. The glove could not fit better to the hand. All of us at B Five Studio wish you the best and know only good things can come your efforts, Sal LaRosa
Angelle Bergeron says
This does, indeed, seem like a perfect fit for you. The DDC and NYC are lucky to have your valuable input. Although I will miss your voice and insights about our built environment, I am envious of the satisfaction you will undoubtedly find in a returned emphasis to a more tangible world than that of journalism.
Best of luck to you!
Roberta Gratz says
Wow!! How fabulous for NYC. We need you exactly in that role. I hate to miss your cogent critiques but having crossed over once myself, I know your new position will be a fulfilling one. It is always good for journalists to experience life on the other side of the notebook.
Marian Barton says
Congrats, Mr. Russell! I’m an editor of ArchiCreation Journal and have been following your articles. Actually, ArchiCreation has published one piece of your review on the issue SOM. And we’d like to invite you to write another piece on GMP, a German firm, of which we’ve got some plans and ideas to share with you, if you are any interested. Please do consider. Looking forward to your reply. Thanks!