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

By Alissa Walker Comment


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.