In Which Philip Nobel Becomes the Architect, and Circle of Criticism Is Complete

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By Alissa Walker Comments

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It is with much sadness that we mark the end of an era in architectural criticism. There will exist, as proof of this era, a trifecta of articles–a manifesto, if you will–heretoforth dubbed the “New Abrasiveness.” So contagious, so revolutionary, so written by a design writer astuter than we. He bashed Boston. He fucked Gehry. And this time around for Philip Nobel, it’s personal.

In this month’s Metropolis, Nobel builds a treehouse, exposing himself and his not-quite-right angles for criticism by Winterhouse award-winner Thomas de Monchaux, a nameless architect who was “appalled,” and others. The reviews, you could say, were not good:

Soon a crowd came by for a cookout. Everyone kept referring to my unique architectural response to space and place as a “lifeguard stand” (has nothing else ever been made out of white-painted 4x4s?), and some, several beers in, went so far as to swing on the delicate yet boldly cantilevered trellis, a gracious statement about infinity and the pitfalls of building with wet wood that in no way can be mistaken for monkey bars (except for the fact that I used grip-width dowels and spaced them just the right distance apart). Keen-eyed Karrie Jacobs, my beloved column colleague, came, observed, and had no comment.

Farewell, o abrasive Nobel. We’ll play in your treehouse any day.