Three months ago, Connecticut architecture critic Duo Dickinson warned architects that the crowds with pitchforks backing Donald Trump might someday come for them. “Architects’ Trump moment” was well conceived. His latest venture into that political gulch, “Donald Trump as Architecture’s Nightmare Client,” is even better.
Trump thinks he’s right about everything, just like an architect’s nightmare client – often a major developer. To my surprise, Dickinson admits that many architects think they are right about everything, too.
Trump is a stereotype that architects recoil from (and yet occasionally earn a living through). The reason we work for them may be simple narcissism. Many of us are not-so-different from the Trumps of the world. Like a lot of self-directed leaders, the mirror should not just be a vanity vehicle—a good long look may reveal some deeper truths architects tend to shy away from.
So true. And yet, shortly after, Dickinson commits what commentators on the politics of foreign affairs used to call “moral equivalency.” Here he equates a crooked architectural establishment with the profession’s small segment of dissed traditionalists.
Modernist dismissal of any allusion to anything but other Modernist architecture is laughably tone deaf. The fearful outrage of a reactionary traditionalist minority is equally dismissive and judgmental.
That’s like putting the imperfections of the free market on a par with the sins of the totalitarian state. “The fearful outrage of a reactionary traditionalist minority”? Huh? Being oppressed by the architectural establishment is very different from modernists’ tone-deafness to the “allusions” made by their twee architecture. Dickinson comes close to throwing away the credibility he has built up in this essay.
Notwithstanding that – and I could notwithstand it all night, and quadruple the length of this post – please read Dickinson’s brilliant essay – again, on the Common/Edge website.