We've gotten a lot of email in reaction to the first issue of ARCHITECT. We've followed the threads on websites and blogs like www.apartmenttherapy.com, www.archinect.com, www.archnewspaper.com, www.mediabistro.com, Slate, and our own www.architectmagazine.com. And I must say we're pleased at the quantity and quality of the commentary.
Not that it's been a love-fest. Some readers seem off-put by the emphasis on people. It's an unusual approach for architecture magazines; our covers and coverage of individuals are going to take some getting used to. But given the nature of the comments about the cover of the first issue, I'd like to clarify our motives. We're not, as some have speculated, trying to perpetuate the culture of celebrity. We're trying to foster a sense of community. How many readers would have recognized Ross Wimer, a very talented and thoughtful architect, until he appeared in ARCHITECT?
So are we trying to mint new celebrities instead? No. We're trying to make connections among interesting and interested people—a mission that we believe has value, given the frantic pace and global scope of contemporary practice. Try to think of ARCHITECT as a convention in print, with an open invitation to meet the keynote.
This month, we'd like you to meet Blaine Brownell (“Material Witness”). With two blogs, a weekly subscription email, and a book, Transmaterial, Brownell identifies products that make a difference—aesthetically, environmentally, socially, and, yes, structurally. He's a one-man show, helping restore materials to the stature they enjoyed during the heyday of modernism—a time when they weren't just an afterthought, a necessary evil, but an integral part of the discipline of architecture. If you don't already subscribe to Brownell's email, Product of the Week, you should. Visit transstudio.com/tm/. There's no fee.
Readers do seem to appreciate the first issue's focus on process—on technology and business—and we're going to keep delivering. Witness, in this issue, the 12-page feature on Valerio Dewalt Train Associates' super-green headquarters for the Kresge Foundation (“Transparent Technology”). Architect Joe Valerio has shared a wealth of proprietary drawings and data to help explain the processes and technologies behind his design.
Indeed, all the features in this issue of architect address in some fashion the question of sustainability: Joel Sternfeld's remarkable essay on the history of America's Utopian communities (“Sweet Earth”); Linda Hales' report on a lost project by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the father of organic design (page 108); and Bradford McKee's investigation into the uncertain future of Washington, D.C.'s only building by Mies van der Rohe. We hope you like what you see, and read.
Please keep the comments coming—positive or negative, we learn from them all. The making of a magazine is an evolutionary process. I'd be foolish to promise that everything in ARCHITECT will be to everyone's taste, but hopefully each issue will offer something of use.