I was rather taken aback when my fellow directors asked me to produce a special issue to mark the end of my tenure of the editorial chair. The request was embarrassing and daunting. What on earth was I to do? In the end, it seemed that the only response could be an analysis of what The Architectural Review has been up to for the last 25 years, (1) and what has happened in the world of architecture during that time. A quarter of a century is no longer a huge proportion of an average Western life, but culture, politics and economics alter so rapidly over such a period that it is impossible to compress all the changes into a manageable compass. So these pages are highly selective.
When he retired in 1971 after 36 years with the magazine, my revered precursor J. M. Richards remarked that 'we are all modernists now'. (2) The battle for modern architecture versus 'period-revival' building had been won, and in Richards' eyes, modernism was becoming enriched because architects 'now know that there is not one answer but any number of answers'. Even so, he could not have anticipated that within a dozen years Post-Modern Classicism (PoMo) was to emerge blowsily full blown from the drawers of Philip Johnson's AT & T Chippendale cabinet.
Few would disagree that we are all post-modernists now--though few, thank goodness, are adherents of PoMo. For all Richards' belief that architecture was becoming more plural towards the end of the Modern period, to many it seemed to be increasingly grim, bureaucratic and dull. PoMo was an early and noisy example of the many imaginative theoretical and built reactions against tired official Modernism (and each other) that have made the last quarter of a century so multi-faceted, culturally productive and challenging.
At the same time, radical changes were taking place in the role of the profession. Richards could …