One expects the most influential new voice in architecture to be a New Yorker columnist or a BBC critic. Not so. It seems a teenager with 2.8-million followers on her TikTok account tops the list.
Inspired by a trip to New York City two years ago, Louisa Whitmore, high school junior, began a series of hate-posts about the notorious 432 Park Avenue building. The outrageously expensive building recently hit the headlines for trapping its millionaire residents in elevators and soaking them in flooded condos. The building stands fifteen times taller than it is wide; Whitmore cites this point when asked why she hates the building.
What started as angry posts about her distaste of the New York landmark as turned into an online sensation. Whitmore turned her obsession with 432 Park Avenue to other targets such as the infamous Long Island “McDonald’s McMansion,” the Paris Tour Montparnasse, and Chicago’s “corncob” towers. Her most recent video about the windowless Louis Vuitton store in Tokyo racked up 600,000 views in the first day.
It might be easy to dismiss Whitmore as nothing more than a young internet celebrity, but the architectural community recognizes her influence. Columnists cover her from the New York Times to the architecture magazine, Curbed. School recruiters have asked her to join their design programs.
“Buildings are very accessible, even when they’re not,” Whitmore explained in her Curbed interview. “In art, you often have to go to a museum to see it in person. But a building you can just walk by, even if you can’t enter it.”
Whitmore rebranded her TikTok account, originally called @432parkavehatepage, as @Louisatalksbuildings. Of her budding role as an architecture critic, she says “Maybe a lot of people have this deep-seated hatred for buildings that most of us are unaware of. Or maybe they like hearing how passionate I am about this specific niche.”
Voices of influence often come from unlikely places. In this case the architectural community pays attention to waves created by Louisa Whitmore, TikTok influencer.