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Why is Donald Trump so afraid of architecture critics?

Maybe because they speak the truth

The sign of Trump Tower in NYC
The “pink marble maelstrom” in question
Eric Urquhart /

A certain Republican presidential nominee has become infamous for launching vicious middle-of-the-night Twitter attacks on his critics. As we were reminded in the first Presidential debate, these tweetstorms have been directed at, in turn, Miss Universe contestants, the Chinese government, and Rosie O’Donnell. But he’s also lobbed his fair share of 3 a.m. hate-tweets at architecture writers.

When you build some of the biggest (and gaudiest) buildings in U.S. cities, it’s inevitable that your work will eventually be addressed by the design critics in those cities. A great piece in Places Journal looks back at how Trump’s projects were received by legendary critics like Herbert Muschamp and Ada Louise Huxtable. (Spoiler: Not very well; Huxtable called the atrium of Trump Tower a “pink marble maelstrom.”)

Trump’s temper over bad reviews used to manifest in different ways. In 1984, he sued Chicago Tribune critic Paul Gapp for $500 million simply because Gapp criticized Trump’s plan to build a 150-story tower in New York City as "Guinness Book of World Records architecture.” (The case was later dismissed.)

Of course, that was all long before Twitter. Now, Trump can attempt to silence his critics by himself. Critic Paul Goldberger recently reminisced about the time Trump came after him.

Getting people fired is kind of Trump’s thing, of course.

But here he was almost taking credit for Goldberger’s decision to move from the New York Times to the New Yorker, which had happened years before.

But that’s not the only critic he bullied. “Kamin” is, of course, Chicago Tribune critic Blair Kamin, who Trump was mad at because Kamin criticized the sign of his new Trump Tower (not even the building, really, just the sign—which Curbed Chicago agreed was a “big dumb sign”).

Yep. After going on the Today show and claiming Kamin had been fired (not true), Trump penned an op-ed entitled the very Trump-ian “I love Chicago ... and my sign!” calling Kamin a “lightweight.” Oh also “dopey.”

But Kamin defended himself.

And even the Chicago Tribune engaged.

This exchange made The Daily Show.

But it was Kamin, passing by Trump’s tower in a shadowed moment, who had the last word:

Why do architecture critics get under Trump’s skin? David Cole so astutely noted, there may not be a higher compliment in this line of work.

But there might be something more to his anger. Trump won’t release his tax returns, but, so far, the architectural audits of his structures have revealed plenty about what types of issues we might find. Investigations of Trump’s built portfolio already have unearthed stories of stiffed architects, undocumented workers, irresponsibly sourced materials, and inaccurate building heights.

So architecture writers—keep digging. Follow the gold mirror glass.