COLIN BOYNE 1921 - 2006
'Colin Boyne's consistent effort through the AJ? supporting and encouraging architecture as a useful, cooperative art - rational, humane, socially responsible and technically competent - has been a heroic contribution, ' wrote Hugh Morris after the former AJ editor's retirement from the Architectural Press in 1984.
Boyne died last week, aged 85.
Wounded in the Burma campaign and invalided out of the Indian Army, Boyne went to the AA in 1943, after which he took up a job on the AJ, becoming editor in 1953 and holding the post until 1970, when he became chairman of the AJ and AR editorial boards.
The post-war period presented huge difficulties to architects and Boyne had great sympathy for them. The AJ employed research fellows to create a comprehensive information system. From this emerged the A4 system, the AJ/ SfB classification system, and the hugely successful Element Design Guides which, in 1961, boosted the AJ's circulation from 14,000 to 22,000.
Boyne and the AJ played a major part in changing the profession - instigating the abandonment of the practice of chief architects taking sole credit for their firm's projects, the shift in emphasis from private practice to far greater public-sector representation on the RIBA Council, and the commissioning of a ground-breaking survey of the profession.
One of Boyne's finest moments as a journalist was after the collapse of Ronan Point in 1968. Hearing about it on the morning news, he went straight to Newham, convinced the emergency services that he was an official, and was consequently the only journalist allowed on site.
It resulted in a wonderfully measured article.
A master of pithy prose, Boyne wrote leaders to exact length, by hand. Weekly postmortems could be bruising affairs, with mutterings about the lack of campaigns, the omission of critical information, or an unconvincing case-study.
He made us realise that architectural editing is a particular skill, and instilled in us a strong sense that we were holding the journal in trust for future editors and readers.
Passionate about the countryside, he and his wife Rosemary built their own house in Kent. Despite his war wounds, Boyne's journey to work involved a one-mile walk to a country bus and then a train up to London. A sometimes glowering presence, he was also a kindly person who could cut to the heart of a difficulty with practical help.
Towards the end of his time at the Architectural Press the feuding among its owners, the sales to United Trade Press and Maxwell, and the changing architectural climate caused Boyne much grief. Three years ago, reviewing a book on postwar reconstruction in Britain, he concluded that from about 1956 onwards 'post-war architecture as a social art started to be replaced by a return to the traditional form of architecture as conspicuous display, delighting architect, client and, of course, the media'.