The decline of architecture magazines.
Last month saw the demise of Architecture magazine, leaving Architectural Record as the single major architecture monthly in the United States. It's hard to imagine that in the 1960s there were as many as four national magazines on the subject. The best of them, Architectural Forum. folded in 1974, followed over the decades by Progressive Architecture and now Architecture .
It may be that these magazines failed because they weren't very good. It's instructive to read old periodicals such as Architectural Record (which was founded in 1891) or House and Garden. which was begun 10 years later by two Philadelphia architects, Wilson Eyre and Frank Miles Day. Lacking color photography, they relied more heavily on text, which was often written by first-rank practitioners. This rarely happens today. I can think of three recent important essays by practicing modern architects: Philip Johnson's "The Seven Crutches of Modern Architecture," Charles Moore's "You
Have To Pay for the Public Life," and Moshe Safdie's "Private Jokes in Public Places." None appeared in the glossies; the first two were published by Perspecta. the journal of the Yale School of Architecture, the third by the Atlantic .
The public's growing fascination with architecture over the last two decades might have saved architecture magazines, except that they were read only by practitioners. It wasn't always so. House and Garden was aimed at clients as well as architects; in its heyday, Architectural Forum covered the home-building industry as well as architecture, which gave it a wide readership. When Time Inc. split off what would become House and Home in 1974, Forum 's days were numbered—residential architecture became the preserve of the (very successful) "shelter magazines." If architecture magazines had maintained their coverage of housing and planning, they might have found more important social roles—and more readers. Instead, they became cheerleaders for an increasingly marginalized profession.