The Architect’s Newspaper brings you “news, big and small, with a catholic sensibility about what architects and designers might consider newsworthy (real estate, landscape, preservation, art, film, ecology, law?).” I could’ve written this sentence yesterday and thought it accurate, but it is actually lifted from the Editor’s Note by William Menking and Cathy Lang Ho from AN’s first issue, published on November 10, 2003. Then it was a promise; now it’s a fact.
That initial offering, intended as a soft launch, and the early years of AN were largely focused on New York. These were assembled blocks from Ground Zero in a Tribeca loft, when a major concern was development at the World Trade Center site. The November 2003 issue also covered the extension of the 2nd Avenue subway; the first phase opened in 2017 at a cost of $4.5 billion, and the second, up to 125th Street, is underway, with an estimated cost of $7.7 billion. AN’s first Eavesdrop, penned by Aric Chen, teased the reveal of SANAA’s design for the New Museum; today, an extension designed by OMA New York is under construction.
Now, 20 years on, this anniversary issue is also rooted in New York. Justin Beal reviews the opening of the final piece of the World Trade Center campus’s high-profile puzzle: the Perelman Performing Arts Center, designed by REX with Davis Brody Bond and Rockwell Group; Kelly Pau writes about Atelier Cho Thompson’s workshop for MOCA in Chinatown; Marianela D’Aprile reviews PAU’s transformation of the Domino Sugar refinery; SHoP’s supertall in downtown Brooklyn is inspected; a glimpse at recent shows at a83, an architecture gallery in Soho, is on view; Lauren Gallow visits with Modellus Novus, which works down the block in the Woolworth Building; Melody Stein addresses the Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture; and Lane Rick appreciates Drawing as Practice, now installed at the National Academy of Design’s new location in Chelsea.
Since that first issue, AN—led by editors like Julie Iovine, Sam Lubell, Matt Shaw, Samuel Medina, and Aaron Seward, among other talents—has expanded in scope to cover architecture and design across the country, continent, and planet. For example, this issue features SCAPE and Studio Gang’s new riverfront park in Memphis, a comment from Puerto Rico, a review from London, and news from Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Decorah, Iowa, where Frank Edgerton Martin attended the opening of a new Snøhetta project. There’s even a trip to low Earth orbit as part of a comic by Amelyn Ng. Beyond New York, we also maintain a strong Texas connection, as we have an office in the state: See this issue’s Focus section about landscape for two case studies from Austin and Houston.
Over the years, AN has handled changes in schedule, design, and personnel while consistently taking on a range of stories, from serious to sarcastic, and running them with punny titles. The media landscape has changed profoundly since 2003, the year when the U.S. invaded Iraq and The Postal Service released Give Up. It’s worth remembering that Facebook launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter (now X) in 2006, Instagram in 2010, and TikTok in 2016; these platforms have reshaped how we acquire and share information and have only accelerated the speed of its transmission. This reality makes it harder to realize a quality print publication. In response, AN Media Group sports a diverse ecosystem of offerings. In the last five years, our busy team has hosted about 60 Facades+ conferences in 20 cities, 9 TECH+ events, hundreds of virtual programs, and continuing education for over 45,000 architects, all while publishing well over 7,000 online articles. As a company, we are thankful for our current and former staff, in addition to our community—architects, landscape architects, planners, designers, writers, photographers, manufacturers, advertisers, communications professionals, and many others—who help create and sustain architecture culture in North America.
Rather than take on the full expanse of AN’s output, this issue’s anniversary section focuses on its last five years. It offers an interview with our CEO/creative director, Diana Darling; a tour through the top headlines; remembrances of those who have died, including Menking; a celebration of other aligned anniversaries; and a big thank-you to the hundreds of writers who have filed for us. It also looks ahead, into the future: One section gathers a wide set of voices to imagine what architecture and architectural media might be like 20 years from now, in 2043. Reading them, one can see that there are societal, planetary crises that should remake architecture practice and that architectural media ought to encourage this progress as fast as we can.
Architecture, like life, is meaningless without optimism. The belief in a better tomorrow is an essential item in the architect’s tool kit. As always, a potent mix of innovation and timelessness is low-key GOATed when success is the vibe.