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editorial

Reflecting on sixteen years of weekly architecture

This is my final editorial after 16 years editing weekly architectural magazines, the last five at the aj. On Monday, I will take up the post of editorial director of Emap Construct, our publisher, but will continue to wear the publishing director's hat in respect of aj and Architectural Review. I will still be very much connected with magazines, but not the hurly-burly of editing. aj's new editor is Isabel Allen, who will experience, I am sure, the support and encouragement from readers that I have been privileged to enjoy. It has been an extraordinary period in the history of the profession, and a happy accident to have been on hand to report it. We have witnessed the rise and rise of a group of architects who bestride the profession, the country and even the world: Foster, Rogers, Hopkins, Farrell, Grimshaw were all major architects in 1984; now they are superstars. Their achievements have been all the more extraordinary given the controversies and hostility which have excited the public, most notably the debate launched by Prince Charles.

While many of our leading architects have joined the ranks of the Great and the Good, adorned with honours and titles, there has been an equally impressive emergence of newer talent, competing at the highest level, both at home and abroad: Alsop, Chipperfield, Future Systems, Hadid, to name a few. Great things are to be expected from younger firms such as Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Birds Portchmouth Russum, Caruso St John, while others of their generation such as Stephen Hodder have made it early.

Of course there have been disappointments. Too many wars of words and too little balanced analysis have taken place (the magazines can plead guilty to aiding and abetting). There is still too little understanding of the intimate relationship between design and its regulatory framework. There has been too much poor design, and a lack of 'good, ordinary' architecture; as a member of the new Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, I hope to play a part in helping improve this. Architectural journalism, like architecture, is about trying to make things better; both activities are fundamentally optimistic, as am I.

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