Taking the Reins

Dion Crannitch / Flickr

Since The Architect’s Newspaper began publishing in November 2003, three people have helmed the executive editor position, each of them extraordinary in their own way. Cathy Lang Ho, our first executive editor, was, and is, an indomitable creative force who brought her energy and drive to bear on forging the paper from the seed of an idea. The format and editorial direction that she—along with editor-in-chief William Menking, publisher Diana Darling, art director Martin Perrin, and more—put in motion is still alive and evident in every issue we produce today.


Aaron Seward.
Whitney Cox

Julie Iovine succeeded Lang Ho in March 2007. Iovine brought a heightened level of professionalism and prestige to what has always been a scrappy, whether-you-like-us-or-not endeavor. Her critical eye and deep knowledge of architecture and design burnished the paper’s image and elevated its status from that of an alternative voice for the profession to a real contender in the same arena with the old-guard, corporate-backed architecture magazines.

With Iovine’s departure in August 2012, Alan G. Brake assumed control. Brake expanded the paper’s coverage of the important fields of landscape architecture and planning, engaging us more fully in the ripe and evolving discussion about the future of urban development in the 21st century. Brake’s intelligence, fairness, and composure permeated every issue he oversaw and went a long way toward cementing AN’s standing as the one architecture periodical everyone must read from cover to cover.

Now the leaf has turned again. On March 16, Aaron Seward (that’s me) accepted the job of the fourth executive editor of AN. I will leave it to my successor to characterize what I bring to the publication, but a few words on my background may be of interest to readers.

My involvement with AN began in 2005 when it was still being published out of the Tribeca loft apartment of the publisher and editor-in-chief. As such, I have had the sincere pleasure of working under all of the previous executive editors—as a freelance writer, a special projects editor, an associate editor, and finally as managing editor during Mr. Brake’s regime—and have been a part of the paper’s growth from its genesis as a New York–region insiders journal to a national media company that publishes print editions in four regions (more than 40 issues per year) as well as produces a daily website and blog, reaches out to the public via social media, hosts design competitions, and runs a popular conference series.

As big as AN has become, the core of our mission has not changed. In the very first issue (AN 01_11.10.2003), Menking and Lang Ho wrote in this very column that the paper “emerged in part out of frustration that so many important architecture and design stories never find a place in the news dailies, city weeklies, and design monthlies.” Well, the intervening decade-plus has seen an explosion in architecture and design coverage, mostly on the Internet. However, the majority of this new-media virulence is utter copy-paste pablum—content not stories—only good for the eyes-glazed ingestion of massive amounts of glossy renderings that have very little to do with what architecture is really all about. With AN you can be sure that what you are getting is a carefully selected collection of independently produced news, commentary, analysis, and cultural reporting, assembled and edited to be enlightening as well as enjoyable.

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