New City Critics

A fellowship program to empower new, fearless, and diverse voices to challenge the ways we understand, design, and develop our cities.

Graphic identity by Manuel Miranda.

A partnership between The Architectural League and Urban Design Forum, New City Critics aims to drive change in the culture of criticism.

In 2023, architectural criticism and urban analysis in mainstream media remains the domain of just a few, largely older, and mostly male, white writers. Though it is a shrinking arena, as newspapers and magazines have moved away from having full-time critics on staff, it remains extremely powerful. A handful of professional critics from similar backgrounds means attention to a limited selection of topics and perspectives. We want to see kaleidoscopic coverage from a much wider variety of perspectives and rewrite public understanding of why urban design and development matter.

Launched in 2022, the New City Critics fellowship program supported the development of five critics from underrepresented backgrounds through guest lectures and workshops, research guidance, mentorship opportunities, networking, and production of new critical projects in Urban Omnibus and other leading publications. Through public programs and other channels, the fellowship encourages a more expansive conversation on the future of cities.

New City Critics is for a criticism of city design and development that reflects the people who live in cities. We need more informed and sustained examination of citymaking in media beyond small professional circles, for a broader public. Housing, workplaces, infrastructure, public spaces and monuments define the contours of our lives. They demand critical attention and a critical imagination expressed through novel formats and in new forums. Our goal is to equip a new generation of critics with new skills and a meaningful network, to conceive and carry out potent projects and advance the work they want to see in the world.

In Memory Of

This program is founded in honor of Michael Sorkin, a longstanding Board Member of The Architectural League and the Urban Design Forum. His death in March 2020 was a huge loss to the world of thinking and action in architecture and the shaping of landscapes and cities. He was a spectacularly good writer, fearless and funny, and adept at exposing and explaining the systems of power that create the built environment. We hope to honor one of his most important legacies: his generosity and care in encouraging the development of young thinkers and writers and designers around the world.


New City Critics is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. This project is also supported by Critical Minded, an initiative to invest in cultural critics of color cofounded by The Nathan Cummings Foundation and The Ford Foundation. We thank them and our founding donors for supporting us in launching this fellowship.

Joan Copjec
Critical Minded
Paul Goldberger
The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
National Endowment for the Arts
Thom Mayne
Eric Owen Moss
Charles H. Revson Foundation

Moshe Safdie
Zach Mortice and Maria Speiser
Carol and Mark Willis

Tami Hausman

Deborah Berke
Mary Margaret Jones
Nat Oppenheimer

Rosalie Genevro
Mario Gooden
Calvin Tsao

Vincent Chang
Eva Franch i Gilabert
Nicolas Kemper
Jennifer Miller
K. Emma Ng
Martin Pedersen
Cassim Shepard
Karen Stein

Advisory Board

Garnette Cadogan is the Tunney Lee Distinguished Lecturer in Urbanism at the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT.

Dario Calmese made history as the first Black photographer to shoot a cover for Vanity Fair with his portrait of Viola Davis. He hosts the radio series The Institute of Black Imagination.

Vinson Cunningham is a staff writer and a theatre critic at The New Yorker. A former White House staffer, he now teaches in the MFA Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College.

Sukjong Hong is the editor of Curbed and was previously managing editor and web editor at The Architect’s Newspaper and a reporter-researcher at the New Republic.

Carolina A. Miranda is a Los Angeles Times columnist covering art, architecture and urban design, along with various other facets of culture in Los Angeles.

2022-2023 New City Critics Fellowship

Our inaugural cohort includes Oscar Perry AbelloAlicia Ajayi, Sophonie Milande Joseph, and Emma Osore of the BlackSpace Urbanist Collective; Calil Arguedas–Russell; and Sabina Sethi Unni.

Over the course of eighteen months, fellows met with writers, editors, and cultural producers, went on site visits and conducted workshops to develop their critical sensibilities and hone critical tools. Guest speakers included program advisors Garnette Cadogan, Dario Calmese, Vinson Cunningham, Carolina Miranda, and Sukjong Hong, as well as visiting writers and editors Alexandra Lange, Tanvi Misra, Carina del Valle Schorske, Mabel Wilson, Mazin Sidhamed, and Emily Badger, and urbanists Beatrice Chen, Yin Kong, Monxo Lopez and Libertad Guerra. Three public programs in a series entitled New Conversations opened up the fellows’ discussions to a larger audience.

A partnership between The Architectural League and Urban Design Forum.