One of the perks of being an editor is the fact that you suddenly find yourself with countless penfriends. This year the AJ has received an unprecedented number of readers' letters, ranging in tone from furious to friendly and from fanatical to flippant. Although we have received far more than we can publish, they are all gratefully received, and offer a fascinating - if unscientific - insight into readers'concerns.
Sustainability has been a recurring theme. It may have been a hot topic for years, but the extent to which the debate has moved is reflected in the increasing sophistication of the correspondence. Our technical articles (not traditionally a particularly contentious section of the magazine) have provoked some impassioned responses.We haven't agreed with all of them, but have been struck by the depth of readers' knowledge about environmental matters.
Education has also been high on the agenda, with students complaining about poverty, and practitioners expressing doubts about the extent to which students are prepared for practice. There has been some progress in this area: one of the year's triumphs has been the introduction of a minimum wage for students. As for the quality of student work, take a look at our coverage on this year's student award-winners and judge for yourself.
Another recurring source of readers'concern has been the on-going spat between the ARB and the RIBA.
Happily, this seems to have drawn to a close, as outlined in Paul Hyett's column this week. It is Hyett's last column. After five years he is leaving the AJ in order to devote more time to his campaign to win the RIBA presidency - and, of course, to the presidency itself should he prove successful.Will Alsop is our new columnist, and will start in the first issue of the new year.
Many thanks to everybody who has written in throughout the year, and apologies to all those readers whose letters have not appeared in print.We do take letters seriously, and they play a key role in determining the contents of the AJ. Keep them coming in 2001.