The January/February 2023 issue of The Architect’s Newspaper is out today. In addition to architecture news and reviews from across North America, the issue includes features on the theme of rurbanity and a focus section about residential construction. To dive into the issue’s contents, we begin with the Editor’s Note, which shares messages from our Editor in Chief Aaron Seward and Cofounder and CEO Diana Darling that look back on the publication’s trajectory as it celebrates its 20th year.
The first issue of The Architect’s Newspaper was published on November 10, 2003. It was characterized as a “soft launch,” but that issue set the tone for all that has followed, making 2023 for all intents and purposes the publication’s 20th year. We will be celebrating that milestone in grand fashion come November. In the meantime, it’s worth contemplating what’s changed in two decades of publishing the paper, as it is affectionately known internally.
In that inaugural issue, founding editors William Menking and Cathy Lang Ho wrote in this column that the idea for the paper had been born in part out of “frustration” over the dearth of design coverage in the mainstream media. The flurry of interest that surrounded the competition to design a new World Trade Center from the wreckage of the old only highlighted how little attention was given to architectural and urban projects beyond Ground Zero. Publishing in a tabloid format, with a biweekly schedule, the paper proposed to fill that gap with stories that reveal “how architecture gets built and how a city takes shape.” The sensibility, Menking and Ho proclaimed, was to be catholic, open to the broad range of topics that the design community ought to know to do its work. They even included a list of these topics, indicated as tentative by the inclusion of a question mark: “real estate, landscape, preservation, art, film, ecology, law?” Not to leave architecture itself out, they promised to keep readers informed about new projects, on the boards and coming out of the ground; profile local practices; indulge in gossip from around the design world; review new books, exhibits, and buildings; run listings of design-related events; and provide a platform for voices from the profession.
From that set of ingredients, it seems little has changed in two decades. But of course, so much has changed—not really in the types of things we cover, but certainly in the way that information is shared. While we still publish a tabloid, we no longer do so on a biweekly schedule. The drumbeat of the news is no longer kept by print’s timpani tap, but by the endless EDM of the internet. We disseminate ours online via archpaper.com, a veritable flotilla of email newsletters, and, of course, social media. The print edition of the paper, still a cherished object, comes out only seven times per year, bolstered by its biannual sister magazine AN Interior, which covers the world of interiors by architects, and the end-of-the- year Best Of issue that publishes the winners, honorable mentions, and editors’ picks of our three annual awards programs: Best of Practice, Best of Products, and Best of Design.
Menking and Ho also said in their first editors’ note that the paper would be focused on the design community of the New York region. As the paper grew, it did so regionally, with print editions eventually dedicated to covering the West Coast, Midwest, and, finally, Southwest.
While we now publish a single national print edition (and often look beyond the continent for content), we continue to maintain regional focuses through our email newsletters. This regionality is a part of the paper’s DNA, realized by our openness to cover stories both global and local, as in our international economy, any regional focus must necessarily consider broader happenings.
Menking and Ho ended their first editors’ note with a hope that the paper would become a “platform for information, dialogue, and debate.” They also asked readers to “tell us what you think.” From my perspective, here on the cusp of AN’s 20th birthday, their hope has been fulfilled. But don’t take it from me. Turn the page—or if you’re seeing this online, keep clicking—read what’s on offer, and, as always, tell us what you think.
Aaron Seward, Editor in Chief
A Word from Our Cofounder and CEO
In 2003, Bill Menking and I never imagined that our seed idea of starting a regional architecture publication would succeed and grow into one of the world’s best-known architecture media resources. Bill brought the architectural history, and I knew branding, marketing, and finance. It proved to be a winning combination. When I look back now on the first issues, I remember the excitement of developing design ideas for print and websites, working from our loft in Tribeca, making huge efforts to make sure that AN was known wide and far, and scraping together money to cover operating costs and pay employees.
Many things about the business have changed since then, but the basic principle that we started with remains: AN covers the things happening in architecture and design that our AEC audience wants to know about! Over the past 20 years, our business has expanded to include the well-known Facades+ conference; AN Interior; the continuing-education platform CE Strong; a technology conference, Tech+; and our awards programs.
Time has flown. Sometimes I cannot believe all the challenges we’ve weathered over the past two decades: ups and downs in the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic, and Bill’s death in 2020. I wish Bill could be here to celebrate this anniversary, because he loved architecture, finding the stories, going to parties and events, and keeping up with the gossip. He loved our readers and supporters.
I am still here, each and every day. I love the challenge of the business, and I appreciate the employees who have contributed their time and creativity to making us what we are today. I want to extend a heartfelt thank-you to all who have helped us make AN a success. Stay tuned for exciting news about our 20th anniversary celebration in November. I hope to see you there.