Blueprint, Contract magazines halt print production as design journalism landscape shifts

Blueprints to a New Future

Blueprint, Contract magazines halt print production as design journalism landscape shifts

The sun is setting for a number of AEC and shelter magazines, and those that have survived are being consolidated. (Robert Bye/Unsplash)

It’s the end of several eras, as venerable architecture and design magazine Blueprint will make issue 369 its last physical edition. As the journalistic landscape shifts, Blueprint, which had published bi-monthly since 1983, will reportedly shift to providing digital resources for architects and designers, according to Dezeen.

Founded by Peter Murray and Deyan Sudjic as a scrappy journal covering art, architecture, and design from a small office in Marylebone, London. The ubiquitous spread of cheap offset lithography printing in the ’80s (and decline of union power, Murray told Dezeen) allowed Blueprint to flourish, as did its backing by big names in the English architecture world including “Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Terence Conran and Rodney Fitch,” according to Blueprint. The elimination of its physical edition is a major loss for the architecture world, and somewhat unexpected; in 2013, while many media companies were grappling with how to cater to a digital audience, Blueprint ramped up production of its print magazine from once to twice a month.

Across the pond in New York, Contract magazine has met a similar fate. The venerable 60-year-old magazine, which focuses mainly on architecture and commercial interiors with the aim of helping industry insiders specify their projects and stay up-to-date on related business news, has announced that the July 2020 issue will be its last. Contract, which also hosts an online product database, will continue doling out digital content and newsletters through September 1 but will close down its events offerings and website shortly after.

Elsewhere, at the beginning of May, Archdaily, the largest architecture news website, was acquired by products database company (sensing a trend here?) Architonic for approximately $12.5 million. Architonic, which holds a repository of about 400,000 different products from lighting to chairs, plans to leverage the news site’s reach and expertise without affecting its editorial content or coverage.

This trend towards consolidation for art, urbanism, and shelter publications isn’t necessarily new, but it will likely be exacerbated as the coronavirus pandemic has cut the bottom out of the advertising and event markets—belt-tightening, furloughs, and layoffs have become commonplace in the last few months as entire newsrooms have shuttered around the world. Local journalism, even the kind owned by deep-pocketed companies, hasn’t been exempt either; architecture, design, and urbanism vertical Curbed has pruned a number of its city-focused offshoots as it prepares to fold into New York as a consequence of the magazine’s acquisition by Vox Media.