It’s official. As of this issue, after months of deal-brokering, information-gathering, and strategic planning, ARCHITECT is the magazine of the American Institute of Architects. Many members are probably wondering, “So what are we getting?”
The short answer is, a lot, with even more to come as time goes by. For those in search of details, here are four highlights of the arrangement, available to architects right off the bat:
1. You’re getting what you asked for.
I’m not being glib; I mean this literally. Before the magazine launched in 2006, we polled architects about the kinds of information they wanted but felt they weren’t getting from the architectural media. We’ve continued to solicit feedback ever since—formally and informally, through traditional surveys and focus groups, and with the latest social-media tools. With every dose of input, we’ve refined the editorial mix of design, business, and technology.
When the AIA selected our parent company, Hanley Wood, as its official media partner, we embarked upon yet another major research project to determine the profession’s information needs and habits. Our grasp of the big picture needed a refresh, given how much the media landscape has shifted lately. (How did humanity manage to survive all those centuries without Twitter and the iPad?)
We’ve translated the responses to this most recent round of inquiry into substantive, permanent improvements, including expanded design coverage and a free monthly continuing education course. And you can count on hearing from us again, looking for more feedback. In fact, why wait? If the mood strikes, drop us a line to let us know how we’re doing. Life moves so quickly that it pays to brake occasionally and check the map; we rely on your continued guidance to keep ARCHITECT on course.
2. You’re getting Robert Ivy.
No joke. In mid-December, Hanley Wood CEO Frank Anton and I gave the AIA board a sneak preview of this issue. Right before inviting us to the lectern, 2010 president George Miller made an announcement: Robert Ivy, the editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, which until last month was the institute’s official magazine, had been selected as the AIA’s new chief executive officer and executive vice president.
Who knows whether Ivy’s decision to accept the job was connected in any way to ARCHITECT’s new partnership with the AIA. Whatever the back story may be, the outcome’s fantastic. Ivy is a profoundly effective communicator, and his knowledge of the profession and the institute is intimate, to say the least. I suspect he’ll find good use for the media tools Hanley Wood brings to the partnership, and I’m excited to collaborate with him.
3. You’re getting improved access to the AIA.
This one’s a no-brainer. When Hanley Wood was courting the AIA, we asked a random sampling of 100 members to identify their official magazine. Fewer than half got the answer right. Our conclusion wasn’t that architects are unobservant or don’t care, but that the institute might not be getting the full potential benefit of the partnership it was in at the time.
No one who sees the cover of ARCHITECT, with its new tagline, will doubt that we are the AIA magazine. What’s more, an eight-page section in every issue will be dedicated to content that the institute itself conceives, writes, and designs for the benefit of components, knowledge communities, and individual members. The AIA section’s distinctive and elegant graphic template is the work of Abbott Miller, a partner in the design firm Pentagram and the man responsible for the original look and feel of ARCHITECT.
While ARCHITECT will retain complete editorial independence, we will partner regularly with the AIA on major reports, events, research, and other initiatives. Ideas for these projects will come from readers and from your representatives on the magazine’s new editorial advisory board (the members are named on our masthead).
4. You’re getting agitated.
The relationship between the AIA and Hanley Wood comes at a time of profound change, when the profession is reevaluating fundamentals of design and practice, and revolutions occur seemingly every day in some major area of human activity: economics, science, politics, communications. Given how much is at stake for architecture, we, the editors, agreed with AIA leadership that the products of our partnership should be designed to spark constructive dialogue about the discipline and its future.
The very worst thing that could happen to the architecture profession at this crucial juncture would be to unthinkingly settle for the status quo. We’re not going to rake muck or stir pots, mind you. We’re firm believers in civil discourse. But it’s a safe bet that not everyone will agree with every opinion put forth in this and subsequent issues of ARCHITECT—and in my opinion that’s a good thing.
Some readers even may find themselves getting a bit hot under the collar. If that’s the case, we want to know why. Talk back. Send an e-mail. Post an online comment. Whatever you do, please don’t settle for silence. After all, ARCHITECT is your magazine, and architecture deserves the best.