Object Lesson


What Does Progressive Mean?

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Fifty-four years have passed since the editors of Progressive Architecture magazine hosted the first P/A Awards jury. The profession has come a long way since then, and the venue of the P/A Awards program has changed as well—moving from Progressive Architecture, to Architecture, and now to ARCHITECT—but the mission of the awards remains the same: to recognize risk-taking practitioners and, more broadly, to promote progress itself in the field of architecture. ARCHITECT embraces this mission without hesitation. The P/A Awards will continue to flourish in these pages.

The P/A Awards matter to the profession, and not just because they've been around for more than half a century. The very best of institutions can stagnate. What makes the P/A Awards any different? As contributor Katie Gerfen notes in the introduction to this year's presentation, the P/A Awards are designed to evolve with the times: “Every year, five respected members of the design community sit down in a room for two days to determine the current meaning of the words ‘progressive architecture' and select projects that fit their definition.”

Each round of the P/A Awards sees new jurors, new projects, new talent, and new priorities for the profession. Change is the constant. The P/A Awards, in other words, embody the profession's faith in progress—the unceasing, collective desire to question, rethink, and improve on the status quo. It takes more than a magazine, or a group of jurors, to keep the faith. Progress is the responsibility of the profession as a whole. The P/A Awards, in the end, are a meaningful institution because architects continually pursue the next best idea and bravely submit their findings to a jury of their peers. Everyone should try it.

Ongoing Evolution
As ARCHITECT enters 2007, one of our New Year's resolutions is to launch a series of regularly appearing departments that will reinforce the magazine's utility for readers. First up is Best Practices (“Business Development 101”), which will offer proven business strategies from experts in all areas of architectural practice. Over the coming months, you'll see other departments—focused on such core professional issues as sustainability, specifications, education, professional service, and business strategies—make their debuts. Be sure to let us know what you think.



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About the Blogger

Ned Cramer

thumbnail image Ned Cramer is editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT, and editorial director of ARCHITECTURAL LIGHTING, ECO-STRUCTURE, and METALMAG, published by Hanley Wood, a Washington, D.C.-based business media company. Prior to joining Hanley Wood, Cramer served as the first full-time curator of the Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF), where he organized public programs and exhibitions such as "A Century of Progress: Chicago's 1933-34 World's Fair" and "New Federal Architecture: The Face of a Nation." At CAF, projects under Cramer's direction received support from foundations and corporations such as Altria, Boeing, the Driehaus Foundation, the Graham Foundation, and the McCormick-Tribune Foundation. He speaks regularly on architecture, design, and related issues. The Avery Architectural Index lists nearly 100 articles with Cramer's byline, many written in his former capacity as executive editor of Architecture magazine. The recipient of an Arts Administration Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Cramer has held positions at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Menil Collection in Houston. Cramer is an alumnus of the Rice University School of Architecture. He was born and raised in St. Louis.