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How the AJ got 89 front covers

There are 89 different covers for this week’s AJ. Here’s how, and why, we did it. By Christine Murray

We wanted to celebrate the RIBA Awards in a special way this year, but it wasn’t until ten days ago that we figured out how: this week’s issue went to print with 89 different covers, one for every RIBA award-winning project in the UK – surely a historical first in architectural publishing. Here they are:

The idea came from a preliminary discussion about the cover for our annual RIBA Awards issue, and who should be on it. Would we pick just one project, or collage them all? Should we choose six and try to influence the Stirling shortlist? Or should we just run some nice graphic type on the cover? None of the options seemed celebratory enough. If only we could feature every winning project…

Like most good ideas, the germination was easier than the execution. Our art editor Brad Yendle and production editor Mary Douglas deserve special recognition for designing and proofreading 89 covers in the time it usually takes to design and print just one. And I should mention production manager David Evans, who liaised with the printers again and again on the logistics of making this very special event happen.

We’ve also anticipated that some of you may want to order extra copies of the edition with your project on the cover, so thank you in advance to account manager Mary Constantinou, who has agreed to field your calls. You can order additional copies for the next two weeks (numbers are limited though) by calling Mary on 020 7728 4609.

It would have been easier to simply design the covers and post them online, but despite all the rhetoric about the death of print, there is still something very special about the printed page – much like how there is something special about drawings on paper, that isn’t quite there on screen.

But the covers aren’t the only way we’re celebrating the RIBA Awards this year. AJ Buildings Library editor Tom Ravenscroft has loaded in three-quarters of the winning projects on the AJ Buildings Library, where you can view drawings, plans and more images free for the next two weeks (

We have also made a few changes to the issue to make it more useful. AJ deputy editor Rory Olcayto has ordered the winners by typology rather than by region, and added the project cost per square metre, so that you may more easily compare winning projects across a particular sector.

We’ve also included references to AJ building studies, AJ Specification features and the AJ Buildings Library, so that this issue might also serve as an index for research when you are investigating a particular typology. I hope you find it useful, and enjoyable.

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