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I want to write about architecture....How?

Feb 27 '06 51 Last Comment
iterati
Feb 27, 06 11:05 pm

So, I love a life committed to architecture. Very personally rewarding. However, there are many facets to the profession that really interest me as well that it is hard to get in on....one of which is writing about architecture. Sure that is an incredibly broad topic, but whatever.

Travel journals, architectural, ID, culture publications. I mean, how can one crack into this? I have no English or Jouranlism minor or anything realted to the creative writing field. I have a BARCH and am going back for an MARCH. I just wonder how people can become an editor of something like Metropolis. A career that requires someone to be very professional in the realms of architecture and journalism. Is it just a matter of tons of schooling?

Any tips, or encouraging remarks would be welcome.

 

Heather Ring
Feb 27, 06 11:23 pm

Maybe start your career in writing about architecture by writing about architecture?

some inspiration: bldgblog

db
Feb 28, 06 6:10 am

there's no reason you need an MArch if you already have a BArch, so you should pick an MA program in architecture that also has something in art history focused on art criticism that you can do as a minor. Or else just go DO one of these criticism programs and continue to take and kindle your interest in architecture. suny-stony brook, art institute chicago, uiuc's unit for criticism, california college of art, etc.

8888
Feb 28, 06 7:33 am

a lot of times people will write articles for publications as they give you aia credits which are required to maintain your license. i'm not sure how it works in other states, but i know at the end of the year all my co-workers are looking for seminars and quizzes they can complete to get the minimum number of units. however, submitting articles to magazines can earn you credits too.

A Center for Ants?
Feb 28, 06 1:00 pm

three letters:

PhD

Heather Ring
Feb 28, 06 1:13 pm

Nah. The bloggers will be owning this.

kakacabeza
Feb 28, 06 6:30 pm

Most people who are good writers are good writers because they write, not because they've gone to some program or another. I think most any writer will tell you that journalism is a pretty worthless major, and many of the best writers have no formal training in writing. If you want to do serious academic writing, a PhD might help, but non-PhDs are published all the time. A good writer would also know that I've already used the word 'write' too often in this post, so don't take what I've said as advice from a writer.

I think the most important qualities for a writer are a voracious curiosity about the world, a broad base of experiences from which to form connections, and ownership of a word processor. Don't keep going to school, you'll just accumulate tons of debt that you won't be able to repay on a writer's salary.

PsyArch
Feb 28, 06 6:44 pm

Try your luck here. Some of the threads on critical theory offer a good place to see how your writing is received. Write us a piece. Link to your blog. Write write write.

I have found, while doing my MSc at the Bartlett, UCL, courses run by the university that I can attend at no extra cost. Some techniques have been useful. Meeting other people with similar agendas helps.

Get out into industry. Meet some people. Meet an editor. Wow him/her with your off-the-cuff critical repartée. Get published. Depending on your angle, you don't even have to be very good at writing. The editor does that bit for you.

Alluded to above is the need to actually be doing something, whether it is the research for your next piece, or a job that puts you in positions where you see what needs to be said. Sitting at home, reading what other people write, dreaming, these are all great things to do, but they are not writing...

Feb 28, 06 6:46 pm

"I'm now wondering if all the built environment of our planet is "progressing" towards becoming a global (virtual) theme park, while cyberspace becomes the place where 'actual' 'real' data takes up residence."
--Stephen Lauf, A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part I, p. 125.

Steven WardSteven Ward
Feb 28, 06 6:50 pm

^ no.

Feb 28, 06 7:13 pm

^Queen of the Nile?

matteo
Feb 28, 06 7:24 pm

don't bother taking a March and a Phd, at least if you just want to write and not working in the architecture field.

write as many essays as you can, contact as many editors as you can, not only americans, but worldwide.
they may ask you for a piece, write it at your best, submitt it and see it published if you are lucky.
keep on contacting as many editors as you can, even if you are rejected, contect them again after a while.
you can go on forever working freelance, selling your pieces here and there, or you can be hired by a magazine if you like it.

all you need is a voracious curiosity of what is going on in the world and a vast knowledge of other critics essays.

Feb 28, 06 7:33 pm

To: archinect/discussion
Subject: Index Architecture
Date: 2003.06.24

For the parts I've read (roughly 1/3), a lot of it, especially the "trendy" theoretical stuff, is already the equivalent of dated advertising copy.
This book should be in audio format. That way you could listen while sleeping, and after about a week you could start talking like a Columbia grad without spending all that time and money. Now that would be radical!
--Stephen Lauf, A Quondam Banquet of Virtual sachlichkeit: Part III, not yet paginated.

some person
Feb 28, 06 8:31 pm

Speaking at conferences goes hand-in-hand with publishing.

A former employer of mine encouraged everyone to develop a personal niche and become an expert in that field. My area of expertise was recreational and wellness facility design. I spoke at a few conferences but never got around to submitting any abstracts for publications.

Be creative in the avenues you seek. Look for trade journals that are not necessarily architecture-related but could benefit from the architect's perspective. You may be able to get ahold of the annual media outline or guide for a publication that details the general focus for each issue during the coming year.

Good luck!

ice9
Mar 1, 06 12:19 pm

do you want to do research/theory/criticism or journalism?

for the former, look at the MED program at yale. this program will require that you have a pretty good idea about exactly what your interested in researching and writing about to get in.

also, a very new, and potentially very good program is the goldring arts journalism concentration at syracuse university. its within the newhouse school of communications, which is a very strong journalism school (although probably better known for broadcast journalism), but the connections within the publishing world are endless... within the school you can choose to concentrate in architecture–in which case you would work with mark linder from the school of architecture. he's not a journalist...he's an architect, author, and theorist. but he's great.

futureboy
Mar 1, 06 1:05 pm

all the writers on architecture i know these days graduated from princeton...

Mar 1, 06 2:48 pm

^would that also fit in the restrictions or joke thread?

[Date: 1998.12.17]
"No one has yet to suggest the likelihood of two Iraqs and/or two Baghdads, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if that place somehow became very metabolic [i.e, creative/destructive] as well.
--Stephen Lauf, A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part I, p. 18.

Rim Joist
Mar 1, 06 4:12 pm

Well played, quondam. And yet may I ask WTF is this stuff that you so persisently post?

Mar 1, 06 4:18 pm

Rim Joist, WTF is it that you don't understand?

Rim Joist
Mar 1, 06 4:48 pm

Perhaps that's as good as it gets. Carry on.

Mar 1, 06 4:59 pm

"Russian proverb: "So the question, so the answer"--go figure."
--Stephen Lauf, A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part II, p. 290.

Rim Joist
Mar 1, 06 5:11 pm

"Attaboy".
--Rim Joist, A Virtual Schitload of Perpetual Qurap: Part 1, p. 1.

Mar 1, 06 5:18 pm

Well at least know what you're about.

PsyArch
Mar 1, 06 5:56 pm

I'm about 6' tall
I'm about the best person I know
I'm about to go have supper

Mar 1, 06 6:06 pm

I'm a "spoil-sport".

will gallowaywill galloway
Mar 2, 06 8:56 am

nice, mijnheer quondam.

i can affirm the lack of need for a phd to write. i have a masters and soon ama gonna have a phd; but seriously suck with the writing (hopeless, really).

but i have a friend who has done most everything under the sun but go to school who is, nonetheless, an amazing wordsmith.

main thing seems to be to have something to say...

citizen
Mar 2, 06 11:21 am

Having something to say is the first and most important part of writing. The posts which encourage going out, looking around, talking to people, and thinking about things make this point.

And if you're going to write, then write well. Clearly. So much architectural journalism is poorly written, filled with pomp and blather that says very little. Also, avoid cliches and stereotypes. If I read one more article about architecture in Los Angeles mentioning palm trees, endless suburbs, and beach culture, I'll scream. Writers resorting to cliches have not done their work, which is to go look, learn, think, then write.

Mar 2, 06 11:29 am

...and persistence.

That is having something to say (ie, actually doing the writing) and being persistent at doing the writing.

To first fill a book with 154 pages and then fill a book with 306 pages and then fill a book with (what looks to be about) 500 pages requires having a lot of something to say and a lot of persistence. Yeah, that's being a writer, and thus being a writer also requires a lot of time.

A long time ago I heard that to be a good writer it definitely helps if you are also a good reader.

citizen
Mar 2, 06 11:59 am

Finally, a post from quondam without quotation marks!

And I agree about persistence. In "lov[ing] a life committed to architecture" (as our original poster so nicely describes), I decided to take the PhD route. There, if you're not persistent, you don't finish... as I'm so painfully discovering.

But I'm not so sure that book length automatically equals deep content. I've seen 500-page volumes that seemed to say very little, and could've just as easily been 150.

Mar 2, 06 12:30 pm

Yeah, and I'm still waiting for the day when more than every other post (by someone else) about quondam does not always have at least something tritefully negative within it.

Believe me, right now nothing makes me happier than deleting whole pages during the editing process.

will gallowaywill galloway
Mar 3, 06 2:36 am

poor quondam.

yeah persistence seems to be the only way most of the time for me.

and maybe for some professional writers too, but the ones i know do it the same way i design. which is to say that it takes effort but is in no way painful. my dream is to be able to write lilke that. practice seems to play a part in the process...

Mar 3, 06 9:55 am

on practice and writing
see A Quondam Banquet of Virtual Sachlichkeit: Part I, p. 95.

and there's:

Subject: [serious] persistence
Date: 2001.08.21
on page 243 of QBVS2
This is a response to Ole Bouman's "Till one of its persistent contributors, lauf-s, has something to share with us." which is on page 242.

citizen
Mar 3, 06 11:09 am

Jump is right on. Writing, as a creative process, is much like design. In essence, a writer is "designing" a narrative: there are functional elements that must be included (information, analysis) in clear form (order, sequence), amid aesthetic choices about style (word choice, phrasing, metaphor). For it to be good, it takes multiple drafts: "good writing is rewriting," it is said. And for it to be great, well, you get the idea.

I love writing, yet occasionally loathe the iterative process of making it better and better. Yet--when I read a really good article or book that tells me interesting or important things, very clearly, in an engaging way--I'm compelled forward in my own work to try and do the same. I get the same way about experiencing good architecture.

Mar 3, 06 11:27 am

Ah, the design of a banquet...

A Preprandial Aperitif
Cucumber Slices, Caviar and 'Sociables' Crackers
Spinach and Mushroom Salad
A Glass of Blue Nun Wine
Sketches cum Napkins
A Trip to the Rest Room
Coquille St. Jacques
Pears Helene
The Speeches
Dried Fruit and Nuts
Australian Port and a Cigarette
The Ride Home
Plop Plop Fizz Fizz

[I wonder how many others have figured out that the title of QBVS was initially inspired as antidote to Tafuri's "we end up with a kind of typological negation, an "architectural banquet of nausea," a semantic void created by an excess of visual noise."]

citizen
Mar 3, 06 11:39 am

Yes, I wonder...

FRANKLEE nycSPEAKING
Mar 3, 06 4:03 pm

date an important architect
move into his place
attach yourslef like amoeba
wear high heels on construction sites
use his connections to get writing gigs
be a golddiger
how many people call themselves "writers and editors on art and architecture" lots of people who have nothing really going on for themselves

the cellardoor whore
Mar 4, 06 3:28 pm

"all you need is a voracious curiosity of what is going on in the world and a vast knowledge of other critics essays."

don't diss phd's. this is what they buy you time for....

though, sometimes, academic writing can be so...wanting to say something but not being able to and then it shows...and theres a yukiness about arguing for with no place for a simultaneous allowance for the argument contra-.

Mar 5, 06 12:54 pm

It also helps to be open to inspiration, like last night I was for some reason inspired to write about "An All-Too-Common Obtuse Whore Architecture." Don't be fooled though, it only sounds cheap.

SurfaceS
Mar 6, 06 5:29 pm

Do you have anything specific you want to SAY about architecture? That tends to be the best thing to get you started.

PsyArch
Mar 6, 06 6:28 pm

dblefere

I'm choking to see some of your words.
Just one, single, unitary sentence might ease my hunger.
Something to nibble on and then heartlessly spit out amid bilious critique.

I (kinda) promise to be nice.

SurfaceS
Mar 6, 06 7:26 pm

What PsyArch said. I wasn't being flippant. Why do you want to write about architecture? Do you like the abstract *idea* of writing about architecture but have no clue what you want to talk about? Or do you have strong opinions, criticisms, praises, or what you think are good insights about the profession & prescient issues? If you are #2 then you are probably writing about architecture anyway, whether in a blog or in emails to your friends.

Norman Blogster
Mar 7, 06 7:44 am

2 words:

"Peter Schjeldahl"

Go google.

(ok, that's 4 - never was much good with numbers)

Norman Blogster
Mar 7, 06 8:45 am

A few more...

Archvoices run an annual essay writing competition.
You should enter - 2nd prize is a nice shiny ipod ;)

brian buchalski
Mar 7, 06 11:06 am

quondam,

is there such a thing as a post-prandial aperitif? or are we not allowed to aperitif after prandialing?

i don't know if there's a right anwser to this, i was just curious how you feel about it...personally, i enjoy my figments but have recently realized that i'm not so mentally keen. sorry to get so personal, but thanks for sharing your thoughts.

brian buchalski
Mar 7, 06 11:10 am

nevermind, after a bathroom break, i've realized that i was thinking of a post-prandial nap...sorry for the confusion

Mar 7, 06 11:48 am


"A dry martini," he said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."

"Oui, monsieur."

"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?"

[...a scene once reenacted at the bar of "The Fountain" in the Four Seasons, impressing Jim Williams as well.]

brian buchalski
Mar 7, 06 3:33 pm

thanks quondam, that's exactly what i needed. i'm prandialing right now (late afternoon, brunch style) and will soon be napping. cheers.

dia
Mar 7, 06 6:04 pm

Well, the original poster is certainly not doing alot of writing here either...

citizen
Mar 8, 06 1:44 am

^ That could be because, as often happens, these threads degenerate so quickly into, say, riffs on alcohol.

Of course, there's the other possibility---that the original poster had little to say, other than a single thought or question.

cindylouwho
Jan 20, 08 8:31 am

Norman, I was interested in this post from one year ago! I'm interested in writing about architecture too - and wondered if you ever just jumped in and did it! Please update! CLW

treekiller
Jan 20, 08 11:42 am
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