Ada Louise Huxtable is a towering figure in architecture criticism. On Architecture collects her writings over 45 years.

What was it like to sort through hundreds of your articles in putting the collection together?

You start reading through from the beginning. You discover a lot of the things that you thought were important are trivial now. You're not terribly proud of a lot of things you wrote under pressure, but you felt you were saying the right thing at the right time. At first I was discouraged. And then I began to see that it was a historical record, which is why I didn't change a word, why I didn't insert any updating facts or reassess what I had written. What I saw was a whole picture, a continuity you don't have time to see when you're writing constantly. And I was glad when I found a piece that could still make me laugh.

How have architectural journalism and your own criticism evolved in the past 45 years?

My criticism has not changed at all. I started out thinking that the public is entitled to understand the places we live in and work in—and if we don't know what we're getting and demand better things, we're really victims. I felt the job was to educate, to explain, to display—that is what journalism is all about. I felt an enormous responsibility, and I felt an even greater responsibility because I came into a man's profession as a woman, doing something new, something offbeat. You had to prove yourself and you had to fit in. It wasn't an easy job, but it was a wonderful job.

On Architecture includes three of your more personal articles. What is the importance of your private architectural spaces, your New York City apartment and Marblehead, Mass., home?

What those articles exposed is what matters in our lives. I loved writing them—they're great fun because you're relieved of this terrible responsibility of the public judgment of a public issue and a public building.

You write that architecture is remaking our world. Which architectural projects best exemplify this remaking?

The Arab states are remaking our world. China is remaking our world. They're building a 21st-century world on a scale and at a speed that was inconceivable before. The buildings that are the most radical are in Dubai, in Shanghai—they build skyscrapers on a scale, both good and bad, unknown in this country. If Paris was the great city of the 19th century, New York was the great city of the 20th century, this century is an entirely different one. Its buildings are on a scale and use radical forms that we never knew before. That is going to upset things. And it's something that probably won't be too understood while it's happening because history is never understood while it's happening.