When the New York Times published a report last month about 432 Park Avenue — the floods, the faulty elevators, the building infighting plaguing residents — the internet delighted in the irony. How delicious it was that some of the wealthiest people in the world could drop tens of millions of dollars on a brand-new condo in the sky only to get stuck in elevators for an hour and a half. But almost no one enjoyed the niche New York City real-estate drama more than Louisa Whitmore, a 16-year-old in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Whitmore, a fast-talking, curly-haired 11th-grader, says she knew that 432 Park Avenue was trouble when she first saw it as a 14-year-old on a family trip to New York. She stood at the top of 30 Rock, taking in the glory of Manhattan, only for all of the big-city delight to be shattered by the supertall building. “I couldn’t stop staring at it,” she told me with a giggle, Zooming from home in Vancouver. “I couldn’t believe it existed. I couldn’t believe it could stand up … I thought, Surely it won’t last!”
Back home after her visit, she didn’t forget about the building. It stuck in her brain, like an architectural earworm. She talked to her family about it. She annoyed her friends about it. She even built it on Minecraft, disturbed by its freaky slenderness. “It’s 15 times as tall as it is wide,” she tells me matter-of-factly when I ask why she hates it so much.
So when the Times published its story, Whitmore felt vindicated — and inspired. As anyone else her age might, she took to TikTok to talk about it, having finally found a reason to discuss her obsession. On an account called @432parkavehatepage, she began proselytizing about her deep-seated distaste for the building. Quickly, it struck a chord on the app: 2.8 million people watched her second video, in which she appeared in front of a photograph of the tower while explaining the genesis of her hatred. “I didn’t even realize how obsessed with it I’d become until I figured out I could start any conversation with ‘Hey, you know that building I hate?’ And all of my friends and family would immediately know what I was talking about,” she joked. Before long, the page had over 200,000 followers.
Whitmore has devoted hours and hours of research into shit-talking 432 Park in addition to other “ugly” architecture that fans submit, like a McMansion McDonald’s on Long Island, Paris’s Tour Montparnasse, and Chicago’s “corncob” towers. Time and time again though, she returned to the same supertall, discussing not only her aesthetic indignation but also the simmering class rage it inspired in her. “It stands out so much that you kind of have to look at the building, but the only people who live in it are incredibly rich people who do not want you to know about them, which makes no sense,” she says.
As the dozens and dozens of comments begging Whitmore to discuss new buildings or other facts about 432 Park suggest, people have a real desire to talk about concrete beams and weird windows on TikTok right now. Though she’s surprised her page has become as popular as it is, and admits that she doesn’t know much about architecture, Whitmore believes it could be because architecture is an easy and enjoyable form to critique. “Buildings are very accessible, even when they’re not. 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,” she explains. Despite her recent interests, Whitmore still thinks she might want to pursue a career in film or TV writing, not design or architecture. Nevertheless, people love to compare her to the architect Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother, which she does not appreciate.
The day before we spoke, Whitmore changed the name of her page from @432parkavehatepage to @louisatalksbuildings, thinking it might be refreshing to broaden her design crit so she didn’t have to dunk continually on 432 Park Avenue. This week, she turned to the windowless Louis Vuitton store in Tokyo (a video that’s racked up 600K views already). “Maybe a lot of people have this deep-seated hatred for buildings that most of us are unaware of,” she says, hopefully. “Or maybe they like hearing how passionate I am about this specific niche.”