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.
Maybe it's time to share one of my favorite tweets. No, I was not fired--that's a Trump invention. So is my fading into irrelevance. https://t.co/WUFJ98S6fU— Paul Goldberger (@paulgoldberger) October 4, 2016
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.
I loved the day Paul Goldberger got fired (or left) as N.Y.Times architecture critic and has since faded into irrelevance. Kamin next!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 22, 2014
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”).
A third rate architecture critic--who I thought got fired—for the failing @chicagotribune likes the building but doesn’t like the Trump sign— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2014
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.”
Dopey @chicagotribune critic fails to mention the ugly Sun Times sign.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2014
But Kamin defended himself.
And even the Chicago Tribune engaged.
But it was Kamin, passing by Trump’s tower in a shadowed moment, who had the last word:
A fitting transformation: From "TRUMP" to "RUMP". pic.twitter.com/4Bc6cY6Sxh— Blair Kamin (@BlairKamin) July 22, 2015
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.