Kristen Richards, a tireless advocate of architecture who helped professionals and enthusiasts alike stay up-to-date on the industry for free, has died at 69. According to Architectural Record, who first reported the news, the cause was cancer.
Richards founded ArchNewsNow (ANN), a simply designed website and newsletter with an outsized impact on the industry, in 2002 as a way of both connecting architecture aficionados and highlighting lesser-known projects and stories. Working on software created by her husband, software engineer George Yates, Richards would pour through articles every morning for stories to pick out, aggregate, and then disperse through her daily digest newsletter. Despite the pressure of maintaining a full-time job and running a free service on the side, Richards’ ArchNewsNow continued to publish both featured stories and its newsletter regularly up through April of this year.
Before founding ANN, Richards served as a news editor and writer at Interiors magazine from 1989 to 1999, and then as the editor-in-chief of Oculus, the quarterly print magazine of the AIANY, from 2003 through 2016. It was a testament to her passion for ANN that she was able to both maintain the service, and deliver her characteristically high level of journalistic rigor, while balancing those demands. In 2011, Richards was inducted as an honorary AIA member.
As news of Richards’ death spread, remembrances flooded in on social media both from those who had known her personally and those who recognized her contributions to strengthening the architectural community.
“Very sorry to learn of the death of Kristen Richards, who was WAY ahead of the newsletter curve with ArchNewsNow, and was a charming and generous person to boot. RIP,” tweeted Amanda Kolson Hurley.
Paul Goldberger also weighed in, calling Richards a “wonderful human being” who created “a lifeline for the entire architecture community.”
Charles Birnbaum, founder and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, also weighed in, citing how Richards elevated the discourse and awareness of not only buildings but of landscape architecture as well.
“Kristen was a legend and a force in our field,” said Ben Prosky, executive director of the AIANY. “As a one-woman enterprise, she produced the invaluable ArchNewsNow, which became essential daily reading for many of us as we tried to keep abreast of local and global design news. For many years Kristen edited Oculus, the official magazine of AIA New York. Under her leadership Oculus was transformed from a newsletter to a more robust design publication, serving as a critical megaphone for our community. Kristen was a devotee of the Center for Architecture. She cherished our programs and the exhibits, and the social gatherings. Personally, I will miss seeing her frequently at events and catching up on all the design world gossip with her over a glass of red wine. She will be missed profoundly by the NYC architecture community and beyond.”
The AIANY is currently collecting remembrances of Richards to display publicly on their website. Anyone interested can send stories or tributes to firstname.lastname@example.org.