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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Nobel’

RISD Mafia Demonstrates How They Keep It In the Family


Likely terrified of what would happen if they didn’t say yes, Jack and Jane Weiselberg entrusted the entire process of building a new summer house outside Sag Harbor–from architecture to juice glasses–to their designer son Josh and a motley crew of his Rhode Island School of Design classmates who openly refer to themselves as the “RISD Mafia.”

According to pot-stirrer Philip Nobel in the NY Times, the gang was so “persuasive,” they even succeeded in talking the Weiselbergs out of their traditional, ivy-climbing ways:

The Weiselberg parents remained anxious about their choice, particularly about abandoning their pitched-roof-and-stone expectations for TBD’s contemporary taste. After ground was broken in November 2005, Weiselberg father and son visited the site. “The look on his face was utter fear,” Josh Weiselberg said. “He saw concrete. He saw a hole. All he knew was that he was getting a grill on the screened porch and a pot filler above the stove.” It wasn’t until another visit, when the walls were framed in, that Jack Weiselberg realized he was getting a lot more from his son. “We went back when the sheathing was up and he could feel it,” the younger Mr. Weiselberg continued. “I started hearing things like, ‘Modern is the only way to go!’”

When the house was finished, the Weiselbergs were surprised most by two contributions: A set of extremely realistic horse-head pillows in the master bed, and a large mural painted in the bedroom reading, “We are watching you.”

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


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.

Christopher Hawthorne Wishes He Could Find Some Green Designers to Write About For Once


With Philip Nobel lighting the way for architecture critics to speak their tainted little minds, critics everywhere are now making pointed attempts at abrasiveness. But sometimes it just doesn’t fly. When Christopher Hawthorne at the LA Times finally makes it out to NY to review the “Design for the Other 90%” show, he tries to make some kind of point about the lack of green designers. We only have to wonder…what on earth is he talking about?

Rem Koolhaas has offered what seems like a dozen explanations–some of them rather convincing, actually–for his willingness to take commissions from the Tibet-paving, coal-belching Chinese government. Peter Eisenman has long been happy to play the charming villain for the green crowd. Zaha Hadid‘s buildings show a mesmerizing disdain for the idea that she bears responsibility for anything beyond the health of her own legacy.

Horrible use of the starchitect card. Ho hum. Nothing new there. Try again.

Among the green generation, who is heading up the charge? Well, nobody, really. This may be the first movement in architectural history whose followers are more famous than its leaders. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom are well-known fans of green design. Among green designers, on the other hand, we have the ambitiously principled (read: sorta vanilla) Cameron Sinclair, who leads Architecture for Humanity; the great, greatly mustachioed and soft-spoken Shigeru Ban; and William McDonough, who is beginning to project an Andy Rooney vibe.

Although we can’t disagree with either the vanillaness of Sinclair or the Rooneyness of McDonough (or the greatness of Ban), we have to say it’s clinically insane to say that there’s a dearth of well-known green designers. Really? Leo and Brad are the greenest architects you could find?

Hawthorne, what are you smoking? We bet that’s green.

Philip Nobel Strikes (Down Starchitects) Again


Has it only been a month since Philip Nobel thrust upon us his revolutionary architecture treatise topped with a rather hearty helping of critic skewering? This time, he takes on the starchitect, and not just the star architects themselves, but the origins of the term and its usefulness therein. But the very best part of “Anti-Starchitect Chic” is when Nobel divulges just how far one starchitect will go to play the fame game:

Gehry, of course, is an expert at managing his fame. Perhaps that’s why he felt compelled recently to deliver to me a T-shirt tastefully printed with “Fuck Frank Gehry,” and insist by proxy (the New York-based creator of the shirts acting as courier) that I wear it at the 2007 Temko Critics Panel (“What to Make of Starchitecture, and Who to Blame for It”). Apparently the shirts are popular at the offices of Gehry Partners LLP, and Frank was feeling frisky. My fellow panelists were amused and assumed I was a sellout, so it did have an effect on the proceedings. But I declined to wear the gift–ethics, you know, and anyway I prefer to get paid to advertise–and I responded by sending back a shirt with my name and a similar blunt message. May he wear it in good health–in front of as many cameras as possible.

The good news is, “Fuck Philip Nobel” has quite a nice ring to it as well.

NY Times Breaks In to the Glass House


With the iconic Philip Johnson home opening to visitors on June 21, Christopher Mason goes “Behind the Glass Wall.” Besides the standard it’s spare! it’s glass! revelry, Mason (with additional reporting but no critique by Philip Nobel) manages to find a cool new hook by interviewing friends of residents Johnson and David Whitney who visited, worked on or wrote about the house during its 58-year history. There are big names in there with some funny things to say–”Incidentally, New Canaanites hated Philip Johnson”–and it’s a final, fitting tribute to the end of the private era. The Glass House, once mysterious, is now completely transparent.

Libeskind: The Dark Crystal


Although we are never accused of being too nice, on the subject of the Danny Libeskind Crystal we posted about this morning, Kristen Richards writes, “You seem to have picked one of the milder reviews–did you check out arch critic Lisa Rochon‘s scathing tirade? And of course we hadn’t, or we would have posted it. Because it’s a nasty one. Rochon must be attending the Philip Nobel Night School for Architectural Criticism; she actually advocates tearing the Crystal down:

It won’t be that difficult to take down the Libeskind addition; its foundation is completely separate from the historic one and its walls barely touch the originals. What I see are hanging gardens draped over the raw steel beams. Natural light flooding the underground galleries. A Babylon for the 21st century.

The real gems, as always, are in the comments, where Rochon is accused of being anti-Semitic, anti-Starchitect, anti-innovation, a humor writer and lover of dark chocolate (we’re a little confused about that last one, too).

Design Writers Reading Design Writing In NYC


The Other Means Reading Series brings together three writers for reading events that benefit a mutually-agreed-upon cause. Tonight’s edition has a design-for-good feel to it: It features Martin Pedersen, Karrie Jacobs and Philip Nobel reading various works of fiction and non-fiction related to design, and benefits the Hester Street Collective, a design-build org that works in low income NYC neighborhoods. Nobel tells us that he’ll be reading an excerpt of a biography of the architect/polymath Jacob Karl he’s currently working on. If you ask him nicely, maybe he’ll read his criticism manifesto for you, too. Last Exit Bar, 8pm.

Another Nobel Cause


Well, we asked for it, when we wished Philip Nobel‘s teeny-tiny sliver of a criticism about the National Design Awards was more of a full-court-press attack. And now, we got it. But this time, Noble’s taking on architecture. And starchitects. And certain star architects. Bad buildings. Good coverage. Critics. Design mags. Photo editors. (Did we miss anyone in there?)

Just like we do about this time, we go looking for the real story in the comments of the article. Because where can one find better entertainment than in the babblings of architectural hangers-on, ready to defend their spiky glass buildings at whatever cost? But guess what–these readers are insightful, well-read, funny, and…in overwhelming agreement.

Did Nobel just start a revolution?

Philip Nobel Nails the National Design Awards


Winners were announced earlier this week for the National Design Awards, bloggers posted the results appropriately, but we hadn’t seen a smart survey of the field of honorees, and nothing like last year when Bruce “Blubberboy” Nussbaum called the awards an unequivocal “failure.” (Oh, and also, in case you forgot, designers suck.)

In today’s Currents, Philip Nobel says some pretty astute stuff about the awards’ potential:

Since the inception of the National Design Awards program in 2000, when it was announced with much fanfare at the White House, the awards, overseen by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, have been a mixed bag. While it’s nice to see designers like Morris Lapidus honored for their work, the awards have never become as prestigious as the Pritzker, known as architecture’s Nobel Prize, and they have often seemed to lack focus. When last year’s winners were announced, Bruce Nussbaum of Business Week finally said what many were thinking when he wrote on his blog that, as a tool for promoting innovation, “the National Design Awards are a failure.” Perhaps this year’s jury, which included the irreverent architect James Wines, the downtown design fixture Stephen Burks and Caterina Fake, a founder of the photo-sharing site, got the message.

Too bad it’s just a tiny little piece in Currents because we bet Nobel has lots more to say, and we’d like to hear it, ahem. NY Times: More design coverage like this, less gay cars, please.