[THIS WEEK] In his final column, James Pallister looks back on seven and a half years at the AJ
Thanks to several serendipitous moments — a chance meeting in a bar; picking up a magazine on a train back from London; an ad in Media Guardian at an opportune time — I joined the AJ seven and a half years ago.
For all the changes over those years – and in publishing the shifts have been massive – a few perennial concerns will probably never go away: is architectural education in crisis? (yes and no); are architects undervalued? (yes); and so on. Of course, the crash has affected all.
The penny dropped for me when, sometime in late summer 2008, a piece from the London Review of Books was passed round the office by then deputy editor Christine Murray. Miss the sub-prime mortgages in America, or the high jinks of traders and the birth of complex derivatives and credit default swaps, asked John Lanchester? You need to know about them now, he wrote. It was the first in a series of pieces whose skill in unpicking – often humorously – the complicated causes and effects of the crisis surely make him one of the best writers of the past decade.
For architecture, it hasn’t all been bad: new practices and new business models for architects are emerging from the mess. All the fretting I did about whether the raggle‑taggle DIY practices – big on gutsy work ethics, small on business plans – such as Assemble (whose cinema was the subject of my first column) that emerged post-2008 would become
practices that pay the bills was proved unnecessary. Happily, many now have big, serious, jobs in cities such as Croydon and Liverpool. Best of luck to them and those who will follow in setting up tomorrow’s practices.
Speaking of well-wishing, this week is my final week at the AJ. It has been a lot of fun, and lovely having you along for the ride.