We join our colleagues in the US in expressing our deep sadness in the passing of Professor Michael Sorkin, architect, author, educator, critic and activist, due to complications caused by Covid-19. At the time of his passing, Professor Sorkin was principal of Michael Sorkin Studio, distinguished professor at CUNY and president of the non-profit research group Terreform Centre for Advanced Research which he founded in 2005.
Based in New York City, Professor Sorkin was an astute observer and fierce activist-critic. His incisive writings on contemporary architecture, the city, urban dynamics, urban culture and criticisms on modernist approaches on planning and public space have made him a highly respectable yet polemical figure in the fields of architecture and planning. As a prolific author, he has written and edited over twenty books, including the widely read Exquisite Corpse: Writings on Buildings (1991), Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space (1992), Local Code: The Constitution of a City at 42° N Latitude (1993) and All Over The Map: Writing on Buildings and Cities (2011).
Most widely remembered as the architectural critic for The Village Voice for ten years, he was contributing writer to The Nation, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, in professional journals such as Architectural Record, The Architectural Review and Metropolis, his polemical voice was a refreshing rejoinder to unrelenting urban development in the city and in cities across the world.
For many of us who had encountered him as students or colleagues in the institutions that Professor Sorkin had taught at – including the Architectural Association in London, the Cooper Union, Cornell University, Columbia University and Harvard University – he is remembered as a fearless educator, incisive in thought and words. A onetime Dean-nominee of our Faculty, he was invited as guest speaker in our public lecture series and as critic at our Department’s final design reviews. For many of us at HKU who recall his lectures in Knowles and HKU Shanghai Study Centre and his penetrating questions during our thesis reviews, his astute mind and forceful voice will be greatly missed.
Dr. Eunice Seng, 27 MArch 2020, on behalf of the HKU Department of Architecture