Late in 1988 I was invited for an interview for a job at The Architects’ Journal. Independently owned, and with offices in Queen Anne’s Gate, the ‘AJ’ was an extremely well respected publication, whose staff at that time included historian Dan Cruickshank.
Once inside the building I was led down a set of stairs and ushered into one of the most fantastic pubs I have ever experienced. A stuffed lion’s head in a glass cabinet looked over me as I negotiated the interview’s questions, trying not to put off by the rather unusual interview setting of a cellar bar. Gavin Stamp does a much better job that I could describing the uniqueness of ‘The Bride of Denmark’ in his Spectator article of 1990, shortly after Robert Maxwell’s group took over the AJ.
I was offered the job, accepted, and spent a couple of years working in that fantastic building until Maxwell added us to his portfolio and the AJ began its journey into the world of big corporate business to business publishing houses, where content comes second to advertising revenue, and editors and journalists have a responsibility to generate money as well as words.
27 years later, and 119 years after the AJ was first published, the decision has been made to close the print version, and move it to a digital-only format. No more will the fantastic photography and wonderful descriptive and opinionated editorial be held in the hands of the country’s grand, and not so grand, designers.
While this is a tremendous shame, it was an inevitable move, and one that the current owners, EMAP, not known for their intelligence when monetising digital platforms, should have probably made many years earlier. (Incidentally, the EMAP brand is also being killed off, hopefully along with the associated arrogance of the past 35 years).
I have always supported the move from print to digital B2B publishing wherever possible and relevant, but can’t help feeling regret that the real Architect’s Journal will die.
Even as an advocate of all things digital, my memories of the look and feel of the 1980’s AJ, and of an atmospheric cellar bar in a Georgian London street, make me sad that yet another tiny piece of character has being taken from my life.