Drawing Up Architects Plans

By Kavanagh, Michael | Marketing, July 7, 1994 | Go to article overview

Drawing Up Architects Plans


Kavanagh, Michael, Marketing


Five lean years left the hard-hit construction press reeling. But recently there have been signs of recovery.

Architects and civil engineers are trained to obey rather than defy the laws of gravity. Yet the plethora of titles which cover the architectural and construction industry suggests that some publishers are attempting to flout these laws.

In the hard-fought, but potentially lucrative, weekly construction news market, publisher Morgan-Grampian finally abandoned the burden of supporting its Construction Weekly in March.

After five recession-ridden years of attempting to break into a duopoly dominated by Thomson's paid-for Construction News and Reed's controlled circulation Contract Journal, Morgan-Grampian shut the title by selling it to rival Reed.

The launch and demise of the title effectively stands as a tombstone on the beginning and end of the most protracted building recession since the 30s. And ironically, its closure came just as others in the sector were finally detecting some kind of recovery in the marketplace.

Yet just as Construction Weekly was folding, yet another architectural magazine -- Perspectives -- was launched, endorsed by Prince Charles. It again provoked media controversy over the role of British architects, but it came against a background of continuing despair over the state of the market within the profession.

Architects remain hard hit. But they continue to be well, perhaps over-served, by the number and quality of titles vying for their attention, says architect Maxwell Hutchinson, former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Hutchinson, catapulted to prominence by his robust defence at RIBA of Prince Charles' "carbuncle" offensive on modern architecture, says: "Architecture and construction is still in deep recession. Compared to three years ago, the titles look like they have gone to Weight Watchers and are staying there."

The three main weekly titles targeting architects -- Building, Architects Journal, Building Design -- have all recently seen editorial flux, he says. A whole raft of other monthly, niche, and occasionally recession-defying titles, serve the market.

"The whole of architectural journalism is in limbo," says Hutchinson. "The competition is very high for a very reduced architectural market. And there are tons of other freebies fighting for a foothold. The construction industry is still in serious recession, and I would guess the ratecards for a lot of these titles are cut to hell.

"But the architectural press is a highly intelligent area of the business press. The editorial quality is unusually high, and the quality of writers and the level of editorial is such that some titles are awaited in offices with baited breath."

Despite the demise of Construction Weekly at the other end of the sector, Morgan-Grampian remains firmly entrenched in the architectural press marketplace, with monthly titles to add to its Building Design weekly title. …

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