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Architects not let down by the press, debate decides

A hearty and wide-ranging debate last night (6 September) exonerated the architectural press of accusations it had failed in its duties towards the profession

Architects, journalists, bloggers and commentators filled the top floor of Paddington’s famous Frontline Club (pictured) last night (6 September) to discuss the motion at the event chaired by Dickon Robinson of RIBA think tank Building Futures.

Starchitect Will Alsop, RIBA Journal editor Hugh Pearman and Architectural Review deputy editor Will Hunter backed the motion. However the audience was won over by the opposing team which featured Piers Gough of CZWG, BD editorial director Amanda Baillieu and AJ editorial director Paul Finch and voted against the motion ‘This House believes the architecture profession has been let down by its press.’

During the debate, Hugh Pearman lamented architects ‘endless vanity’ while Piers Gough spoke of the ‘unconsumeable’ and ‘pure cultural quality’ of architecture.

Will Hunter demanded critical analysis go beyond humour in the architectural press while Amanda Baillieu reminded the debate of newspaper magnate Alfred Harmsworth’s remark: ‘News is something someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising’.

Will Alsop claimed there was ‘no relationship between architecture and news’ and suggested Prince Charles was singularly responsible for national newspapers’ interest in the profession.

Concluding the debate, Paul Finch turned the motion on its head and said architects had let down their press, listing several instances where he thought the profession had failed to prevent challenges to its position in the industry.

The motion was resoundingly defeated with less than a third of attendees voting in its favour.

Readers' comments (2)

  • I have to say that I was there myself, and wouldn't say that, "the audience was won over"...I think that their minds were made up before the 'debate' (if you could call it that) even began. Interestingly, I believe that about two thirds of the attendees were from the architectural press, despite Mr Robinson's rough headcount of 50% press. p.s. I'm a neutral

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  • Christine Murray

    Highlight of the night, for me, of course, was Amanda Baillieu saying 'If you don't like BD, you don't have to put it in the bin now. It's not free anymore, just don't subscribe'.

    On a more serious note, several architects in the audience complained about the poor quality of blog journalism online, but few seemed to embrace the idea of subscriber-only access, and the notion that journalists, like architects, deserve to be paid for what they do. The cost of paper goes up every year, but subscriptions to all print media has fallen since the dawn of the internet.

    There are a lot of great, historic, publications out there. In a decade, which ones will remain? The architectural profession ultimately will get the media it deserves - the media they were willing to pay for.

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