How do you become an "architecture critic"?


Seriously. Who are these people and where did they come from? Is architecture equivalent to food and clothing? Do they have any weight in the profession? What would you say is their value?

Aug 18, 17 12:18 am

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Good or bad, talents or hacks, they all have at least one thing in common: they're writers.

Aug 18, 17 1:48 am

That seems obvious, of course, but it takes some level of commitment just to produce on a regular basis. It's not enough to just have opinions... even well-reasoned ones.


Maybe here's some useful insights:

Mark Magazine has an interesting segment called Bookmark in which they interview architects, scholars and also critics about their work and favourite books, maybe there's some pointers. Katya Tylevich had an interesting interview with Mimi Zeiger a couple of issues back for example.

Aug 18, 17 7:41 am

mfa in writing, connections, money, the desire to criticize something you could never do or understand fully without having worked in the field - grad school doesn't count.   

Aug 18, 17 10:13 am

one guy started in math

Aug 18, 17 10:16 am
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Practice, practice, practice.
Aug 18, 17 10:26 am

This is such a weird prompt. Who even does architectural critiques anymore, and even yet, who reads them.

My favorite publication that shut down ages ago "Progressive Architecture" used to openly shit on bad designs. I miss their monthly to this day.

Here is a brief synopsis by slate about decline in interest in architectural writing.

Anyways, what is a current good source of arch critiques? I honestly don't know. Also, who is your favorite architect right now. Property brothers, or Chip and Shiplap?

Aug 18, 17 11:21 am

The decline of the architecture critic began with the advent of blogs and later evolving into social media. Anyone with half a brain could bitch and moan about architectural design without having had any sort of formal training in either school or the profession. 

Dumb shows on HGTV now espouse what good design is by way of interior renovations full of poorly terminology. In one episode of Property Brothers, a precast plaster balustrade was deemed as being "solid concrete". That it's on-camera demolition via sledgehammers (without proper demo permits) was enjoyed by the house sellers goes without saying. In another episode, a freestanding gypsum riser was declared "a structural column" when the camera clearly showed a pair of air registers. 

My point is, the requirements for architectural criticism have been so diluted that whatever merit criticism once held is now superfluous thanks to a miseducated public. 

Aug 18, 17 12:40 pm

Why do you even watch those shows?

step one: look at a bunch of architecture

Aug 18, 17 1:16 pm

“Writing,” as Voltaire’s famous maxim goes, “is the painting of the voice.”

Can you paint?

Aug 18, 17 1:25 pm
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Hey I'm actually qualified to comment on this. I'm both a practicing architect (licensed) and a critic with my own byline in a local weekly paper.

You need to 1) be a decent writer. 2) be prolific in output and practice as much as you can. 3) not give a shit what other people think - you will make enemies.

I started out in school helping professors edit books and essays. 3 years after graduating I pitched my first story - it was to Architect's Newspaper. It was terrible and I'm pretty sure they rejected it after actually reading what I wrote. Managed to sort of find my voice (4 years later) and have now published well over 3 dozen pieces. Maybe 12 of those were pure "traditional" criticism. The others were interviews or reviews or some hybridized format. A couple were drawings as criticism (which are, to this day, my favorites).

The most surprising part of it is how much it has helped my career. 

I write better with clients, colleagues and consultants. I can talk about design better - more descriptively, eloquently, passionately. I can call up and schedule an interview with any of the top architects where I practice, and they often turn into friendships and relationships when the person I'm interviewing realizes I practice as well. Not to mention frequently analyzing, criticizing, and dissecting others work has caused my own to improve. 

Here's a few quotes I pulled from a lecture that I give to student about how essential writing is for practicing architects:

“Most of the world’s best architects never wrote a line about their work, let alone proposed a theory - they didn’t have to. Innovative architects were lucky to have Lewis Mumford, Sigfried Giedion, Manfredo Tafuri… Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Jacques Derrida. The theories that the theoreticians spun around their works enabled a wide discourse to develop, elevating architecture to a form of knowledge, lifting it out of the venal chatter of the marketplace. Sadly, those critics and professors have died, leaving a conceptual - and critical - void.”

Lebbeus Woods

“When I was in architectural school… it seemed almost impossible to practice architecture. Building was so bound up with structures of power, the only responsible thing, I thought, was to resist… I turned to writing as the extension of architecture by other means, trying to make a space in which I could practice. I never saw myself as an architectural writer but as an architect for whom writing was an additional, necessary medium.”

Michael Sorkin

Aug 18, 17 2:35 pm
Plattenbauer Pauly



Lebbeus Woods -the Steve Bannon of architecture.

Aug 19, 17 9:00 pm
Plattenbauer Pauly







Starrchitect -the Steve Bannon of archinect.

clean living

Aug 19, 17 9:32 pm

the spilled blood of margaritas

Aug 20, 17 10:08 am

and yet no one has been able to prove the betterment of the profession by the existence of these "writers". Maybe a service to the public and themselves, but purely anecdotical. And yes, I can paint, but my own, not about what others do.

Aug 20, 17 11:26 am

They (someone like Kipnis or Dave Hickey) articulate ideas that did not occur to others, or others did not bother to articulate or could not. That is the service, it's educational. Kipnis was driven perhaps by curiosity, Hickey by defense of beauty.


JLC-1: gets panned by one architecture critic, one time. Maintains willful ignorance that Ada Louise Huxtable or Michael Sorkin have contributed more to the profession of architecture than she/he could ever dream of. Shit-posts on internet to take out frustration.


You need to find tune your orb, missed by a mile



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