Architectural Journalism has been a part of the industry for many years. People have written about structures, their details, and their overall look and feel through various portals and mediums. However, it was treated as a micro part of the construction industry. Buildings were built and were gone unnoticed, the ground-breaking structures were the only ones that got their due diligence.
In the 19th Century, writers also known as Architectural Critics started coming up. They critiqued a structure and wrote about their design features. It is only then that Architectural Journalism started emerging with more visibility.
Although this field is divided into many sub-parts, like creative writing, documentations or photography, research or pacers, perceptual thinking, paper writing, etc. These sub-parts are allowing various expertise to come into the picture.
Architectural Journalism now is one of the fastest-growing industries, people have started realizing that conveying and branding a structure holds as much importance as building it. Journalism has given a newfound track for designers, developers, builders to brand their product and grow their visibility in a digitalized world. Many design writers like Ralph Caplan, Ayn Rand were proven to be an asset as their writings were profound and unique, which gave limelight to the design industry.
One might mistake that Architectural Journalists are restrictive towards writing only, but that is not true. An Architectural Journalist is a blend of advanced know-how in his/her architectural skills as well as possessing an ability to interpret design ideologies and methodologies with prowess.
Architectural journalism – International
Internationally, the reach of Architectural Journalism is widespread. Many portals have created a global audience for themselves. They’re used as referrals for many case studies and allied projects. The outreach of these mediums includes buildings but also product designs and everything that comes under the construction industry. In terms of using these portals as references, they lack a sense of detailed know-how of a particular region, due to which it becomes tricky to elaborate a project in the surrounding context as the information is generic.
Architectural journalism – India
In India, Journalism in architecture was rather slow-paced in the late 90s and early 20s. It is now in recent years that this field has started gaining its due importance. Many architects like Apurva Bose Dutta have been pioneers in initiating the process of having Architectural Journalism in India from 2013 onwards.
There is a need to have content that is relevant to the context with proper details, this can be achieved by having a local or national portal which ensures proper visibility and outreach. Architectural Journalism has been an emerging boon to the Indian Construction Industry.
The path to becoming an Architectural Journalist
- The first stage can be to read as much as possible. Reading design magazines or books, research papers, dissertations, etc. This skill is important to understand the nuances of writing.
- Colleges and architectural institutes can have Architectural Journalism as an elective subject to orient the students who have a flair for writing. Projects, Essays, Competitions, and Workshops can help in inculcating a good set of writing skills. Theory-based learning is equally important to practical learning, faculties can ensure a balance between these two in the process of the entire five-year coursework.
- Online Case Studies can be a great way to study and read about a structure to understand how we can describe a space. As many times, writing about architecture can be a touch part if ‘what we think’ to ‘what we write’ has a gap in-between. This gap can be filled by practicing writing regularly.
- Internships – They are a vital part of architectural coursework. Internship semesters are usually in the fourth or the fifth year of the bachelor’s coursework. If a student realizes his flair for Architectural Journalism, he/she can opt for internships that are centric towards it.
Many architectural magazines, online portals have started taking interns. Even, RTF has an internship program for summer interns, WFH interns as well as Editorial Interns. Taking part in these internships allows you to gain experience from an expertise set-up. These internships also help in understanding the in-depth knowledge of architectural journalism and they even increase your skill set.
Internationally, architectural portals like Dezeen, Archdaily, etc also offer internships for students to increase their know-how of this field.
- Masters – Apart from the generic design degrees like Masters of Architecture, Masters in Urban Design, etc, the architectural field has widened with unique degrees.
For students interested in Masters related to Architectural Journalism, they can opt for Master of Arts(MA) in Journalism, Master of Arts (MA)in Design Criticism, Master of Arts (MA) in Humanities and Arts Journalism, MA Design Research, Writing and Criticism, Master in Urban Studies (4CITIES), Master of Arts (MA) in Creative Writing, Master of Architecture in Architectural History and Theory/Master of Arts in Architectural History and Theory, etc.
Many national and international universities have started hosting these degrees that run parallel to the current needs of the construction industry.
- Job Opportunities – There is a wide range of opportunities for architectural journalists. They can work for architectural newspapers, magazines, or journals. They can also opt for a job as an Architectural Design Critic or can go for teaching for theory-based subjects like Architectural Theory, Humanities, etc. They can even start working freelance or as authors independently. Freelance Journalism is also a great option to have multi-faceted experiences. They can work as digital writers, content curators, editors for editorial teams for various magazines and online portals.
Examples of some of the famous Architectural Journalists that have been brave to outstep the stereotype
1. Apurva Bose Dutta
She has been one of the pioneers in Architectural Journalism in India. She has her work published in various publications around the world. Along with this, she conducts workshops related to Architectural Journalism across India for students who have a flair for writing.
2. Sarah Williams Goldhagen
An Award-winning author and architectural critic, she wrote a research-based book ‘Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives’. Currently, she is a contributing editor at Art in America and Architectural Record. With ten years of teaching experience at Harvard’s School of Graduate and Design.
3. Michael Kimmelman
He is an architecture critic of The New York Times, art critic, author, and also a pianist.
4. Paul Goldberger
He is an Architectural Journalist and also one of the leading figures in architectural criticism. He was an architectural critic for the New Yorker and worked as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism in 1994 and the AIA Medal from the American Institute of Architects. He has been a teacher in many leading institutes as well as an author of ‘Architecture Matters and Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry.
There is a need for awareness about Architectural Journalism in India. With many portals and magazines coming forward with more and more jobs and internship opportunities, this career path is now gaining its due credibility. Developers and Builders are seeing journalism as a way to market and brand their product. This thought has given Architectural Journalism a new platform and recognition.
The Written word is a Testimonial and that’s why it is important in Architecture to make it timeless.