Rumored to be on the auction block for several years, Architecture magazine has finally been sold. On September 29, Hanley Wood, the Washington, D.C.– based publisher of business-to-business housing and construction titles including Residential Architect, Builder, and Concrete Construction, announced its purchase of both Architecture and Architectural Lighting (AL) from VNU Business Media, which publishes Contract and Hospitality Design but began shedding its design titles when it abruptly shuttered Interiors in 2001. In a statement, VNU Business Media CEO Robert continued on page 3 death to architecture continued from front page Krakoff explained, “Since we have a very limited footprint in the architectural market, we have sold Architecture andArchitectural Lighting to Hanley Wood, which has a strong building and construction franchise."
While Hanley Wood will continue to publish AL and has retained three of its current staff members, Architecture, which has suffered declining ad pages and circulation over the past several years (see “Architecture Editor Ousted,” AN 14_9.7.2005), will be discontinued following its October issue. Its entire staff was let go.
Architecture’s final issue coincides with the debut of Hanley Wood’s trade title,Architect, which mails at the end of the month (see “New Magazine To Launch,”AN 9_5.24.2006). Architect editor-in-chief Ned Cramer explain-ed that the acquisition of Architecture was “a chance [for us] to strengthen our market position.” The new magazine will fulfill Architecture’s existing subscriptions.Architecture’s current circulation is 88,000 while AL, which is published seven times yearly, has a circulation of 25,000. Long before the sale was finalized, Hanley Wood had an-nounced a target circulation for Architect of 60,000. Issues will be mailed free to registered architects and architects working in firms with more than two employees, engaged in nonresidential work, which accounts for 90 percent of all billings in the industry, according to Hanley Wood’s research. Said spokes-person Ann Seltz, “From Architecture’s circulation, we will take only those firms that match that profile; firms outside our targeted profile may receive the magazine on a paid-subscription basis.”
Architect will also preserve the venerated P/A Awards. Ironically, Architecturemagazine is now facing the same fate it imposed on Progressive Architecture (P/A) in January 1996: BPI Communications, the publishers of Architecture, then the official magazine of the AIA, bought P/A for $1 million, and kept only its subscriber list and awards program. (BPI was folded into VNU in 1998.) “TheP/A Awards is an important institution in the profession and its fate shouldn’t be tied to that of magazines that have fallen on hard times,” said Cramer. “AtArchitect, we can allocate the resources to it and bring it back to what it was ten years ago.”
Cramer also expressed his desire to preserve other strengths of Architecture, such as “its incredible minds, including a great pool of contributors.” As of yet, none of the magazine’s staffers have been retained, nor could they comment for this article due to a clause in their severance contracts. The staff was given one week’s notice, and spent their final week of work overseeing the P/A Awards. The awards will appear in the January issue of Architect. The news of the sale came as a surprise to the staff, which had unveiled a redesigned, reformulated magazine in June. At the time, editor-in-chief Emilie Sommerhoff, executive editor Abby Bussel, and art director Casey Maher were upbeat about VNU’s support of their efforts to push Architecture in a new direction.
Maher will continue on a contract basis as art director for AL. Cramer will assume the role of editor-in-chief for AL, in addition to Architect. Designed by Pentagram’s Abbott Miller, Architect will take a different approach to covering the profession, “focusing not just on buildings but on people and their processes,” said Cramer.