You may have heard the news that, as of next January, ARCHITECT will be the official magazine of the American Institute of Architects.
I believe the partnership between the AIA and Hanley Wood, ARCHITECT’s publisher, will be great for the architecture profession. How so? For one thing, Hanley Wood is a smart company that produces award-winning magazines, and as a result Architect will be around for a good, long time. Longevity is no small matter in an age when design publications have been folding left and right. Remember Domino, House & Garden, I.D., and Metropolitan Home? They were fantastic magazines, and their loss amounts to a tragedy for design.
The reason why the design media has collapsed so dramatically may seem plain enough: a huge loss of advertising dollars due to the housing bust in 2007 and the ensuing Great Recession. But I also blame the conglomerate culture that has come to dominate media in general. How can a pack of MBAs—nice people, presumably, but bean-counters, undoubtedly—make informed business decisions about magazines serving an industry that is alien to them?
Hanley Wood, by contrast, serves only one industry: building design and construction. Our history and culture is rooted in architecture. It’s not just that there are prints by Julius Shulman and Robert Venturi in the conference rooms. Hanley Wood actually was founded by two AIA employees: Mike Hanley and Mike Wood, the in-house publisher and lead advertising executive, respectively, for the AIA Journal. They established the company in 1976, with just one client: the AIA and the AIA Journal (later rebranded as Architecture).
The two Mikes managed the AIA’s magazine business until the AIA sold it in the mid-1980s. Today, Hanley Wood encompasses some 30 publications and their websites, a marketing division, a data group, and a trade show business—all in service to building design and construction. So when I joined Hanley Wood in 2006, for the launch of ARCHITECT, the collective corporate enthusiasm for the project was palpable—it had all the flavor of a happy homecoming.
Obviously, I’ve drunk the company Kool-Aid. But I’m no blind follower—I roll on evidence. After four years at Hanley Wood, I have yet to witness our leadership make a move on ARCHITECT without weighing the potential effects on the quality of the content and on the needs of the readership. My bosses care about the bottom line, to be sure, but they are wise to the fact that the bottom line is inextricably linked with the well-being of the industry we serve.
My own ties with the industry are just as strong. I went to architecture school and have spent my entire career in the field, as a writer, editor, and curator. I love architecture—both the community of professionals and the buildings they design. You’ll find the same depth of commitment among our editorial, graphics, production, sales, and technology teams, and among our freelance journalists, photographers, and illustrators. Their skill earned architect a nomination for general excellence earlier this year from the National Magazine Awards. And we’re just getting started.
We know we have a lot to live up to, and we’re embarking on the AIA relationship in a spirit of both enthusiasm and humility. Robert Ivy and his colleagues at Architectural Record set a high bar during their long association with the AIA, and I’m counting on their continued success in the years to come. Architecture is a complex endeavor, and the architecture profession deserves multiple voices.
Over the next few months, many of you will hear from us at Hanley Wood and from our partners at the AIA, as we ask questions, solicit ideas, and strive to refine the editorial voice of ARCHITECT—the magazine, website, newsletters, events, and other offerings. Our goal isn’t just to build a bigger, better media brand, but a bigger, better profession, and we’ll turn to you time and again for advice on how to accomplish those goals. You, after all, are the experts.
And now for some fine print. All AIA members will receive ARCHITECT as a monthly benefit of membership, starting with the January 2011 issue. Members will also have preferred access to three other Hanley Wood publications that are newly affiliated with the AIA: EcoHome, Eco-Structure, and Residential Architect.
All four magazines, and their websites, will host a dedicated AIA section, with content from and about members, the Knowledge Communities, local, state, and regional chapters, and other constituencies. And most every issue of ARCHITECT will offer in-depth coverage of key AIA events and programs, such as the Honor Awards and Gold Medal, economic forecasts, and policy updates.
At the same time, you can expect ARCHITECT to continue producing its outspoken, independent advocacy of architecture—as a community, a business, a set of technologies, a body of intellectual and social concerns, and, of course, as a design discipline.
Have I mentioned that as part of our partnership with the AIA, Hanley Wood is going to manage the AIA Convention and Design Exposition, starting with the 2011 show in New Orleans? We’re already cooking up big plans for the event. Details will emerge in the coming months, and I hope you’ll join us when the time comes. As they say in the Big Easy, Laissez les bon temps rouler.