As promised (and promptly forgotten), here's my potted history of 80 years of AD as published in the AJ a couple of months ago.
We all know and love AD today as that glossy bi-monthly magazine-cum-book that publishes the latest in architectural theory and the occasional building. But behind it is a rich and influential history that stretches back to 1930, when it was originally given away freely with the Architect's Standard Catalogue and called Architectural Design and Construction.
Barbara Randell and Monica Pidgeon took over its editorship immediately after the war. A great networker in architectural circles, Pidgeon brought contacts, energy and optimism to the magazine. Forever looking forward (history was frowned upon in her magazine), she had a real nose for the next big thing. But it was the series of talented technical editors beginning with Randell's replacement, Theo Crosby, in November 1953, who guided the magazine's content. Crosby transformed the magazine with the grooviest covers and offered a platform to the Smithsons, with whom he shared a house and an interest in the Independent Group, and who had just completed the school at Hunstanton (published in AD, September 1953). Between the Smithsons in AD and Banham in the AR, the neo-avant-garde movement of The New Brutalism was born and raised amidst post-war austerity. Until the early 1960s, with modern architecture as the choice of style for reconstructing Britain, architecture was all about the building, epitomised particularly by the remarkable September 1961 issue on Sheffield.
In 1962, Kenneth Frampton took over from Crosby and it was while touring Europe for AD and seeing how modernism was attuned to individual architects in the Continent's varied cities that his ideas on critical regionalism were formed. More critical articles appeared on, for example, Atelier 5 and Hans Scharoun and whole issues dedicated to the work of Mangiarotti & Morassuti and Lingeri & Terragni in Italy, Aris Konstantinidis in Greece, Ernö Goldfinger in Britain and ATBAT in France. While the AR remained British and committed to its visually-oriented Townscape campaigns, AD was more international and promoted the likes of Buckminster-Fuller (July 1961) and space-race technology transfer (February 1967), thus becoming the magazine of the younger generation. The issue from February 1967 (above) with the iconic faceless astronaut cover instantly recalls the space race technologies of the time. The photograph was from an advert from Cuttler-Hammer, a manufacturer of electrical products from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The issue was guest edited by former Independent Group member John McHale who was at the time working with Buckminster-Fuller at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale. It features Fuller's predictions about the year 2000 and NASA technology throughout and McHale's essay “the future of the future” prefigured his book of the same name two years later. As one of the most popular issues ever, it immediately sold out and was reprinted.
Around 1973, as the “the golden age of capitalism” was coming to an end and Britain was moving from an industrial to post-industrial society the Standard Catalogue Company wanted to sell AD. Pidgeon left in 1975. A couple of uncomfortable ménage à trois years between Haig Beck, Martin Spring and Andreas Papadakis ended when Papadakis bought the others out and was left as both publisher and editor of AD by 1979. The magazine changed tack completely and history was not only allowed, but encouraged.