The most influential architecture critic in the city, Goldberger pens the "Sky Line" column for The New Yorker.
Goldberger's first post-college job was at the New York Times' obits desk and he says he got into architecture after writing Louis Kahn's obituary in 1972. Less than a year later, the Gray Lady appointed him its architecture critic and he ended up spending more than 25 years at the paper, penning hundreds of reviews and earning a 1984 Pulitzer in the process. In 1997, at the invitation of then-editor Tina Brown, he decamped to the New Yorker. He's been there since, issuing praise (or heaping scorn) on new works in New York and beyond. In 2004, he penned a book called Up from Zero about the political and architectural infighting over Ground Zero.
Goldberger is the most respected architecture critic in town and his opinions generally carry more weight than Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff's. Unlike Ourousoff, who has a tendency to treat major architects with kid gloves, Goldberger has a reputation for delivering more candid opinions, such as his memorable evisceration of Charles Gwathmey's shiny glass tower at Astor Place. (Among other digs, Goldberger deemed it "an elf prancing among men" and likened it to something you'd find in a "suburban office park.") He's been considerably kinder to a number of other new notable buildings, such as Frank Gehry's building for Barry Diller's media company, IAC (he praised Gehry's "daring technical maneuvers"); Norman Foster's headquarters for Hearst, which he described as the most beautiful addition to the city skyline in 40 years; and Robert A.M. Stern's 15 Central Park West.
On the side
Goldberger was the dean of the Parsons School of Design from July 2004 to May 2006, when the school declined to renew his contract. Some speculated that he was ineffectual in the job, others suggested it was a conflict of interest with his position at the New Yorker.
Goldberger's wife, Susan Solomon, authored a 2005 book about the architecture of playgrounds. They have three sons: Adam (a composer for movies/TV), Ben (a staff reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times), and Alex (a student at Yale). One building that apparently passes muster with the architecture arbiter is the Beresford: That's where he lives, along with Jerry Seinfeld, Helen Gurley Brown, John McEnroe, Vikram Pandit, and architect William Pedersen. He also has a home in East Hampton.