AA Library: Journals Collections & New Acquisitions

Eleanor Gawne, February 2016

Journals have played a key role in disseminating architectural ideas throughout the centuries. The Battle of the styles in the nineteenth century was covered in The Builder, while The Architectural Review in the 1920s was the mouthpiece for introducing modernism to Britain.

The AA Library currently subscribes to about 150 journals, both print and online, and continually adding new ones which look like they will be of interest to Library users like The Funambulist (Paris, 2015-).  We also want to fill gaps in our existing holdings, and with heavily used journals we sometimes want multiple copies.

Recently the Library was given a set of Oppositions published by the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York from 1973-84. Run by Julia Bloomington, it has been argued that it came out when there was no other theoretical magazine on architecture in the US at the time except Perspecta  (Beatriz Colomina and Craig Buckley, ed. ‘Clip, stamp, fold: the radical architecture of little magazines 196X – 197X’ (Barcelona : Actar, 2010), p.69).


Besides advancing theories of French structuralism and deconstruction, one of the contributors, Mario Gandelsonas writes that ‘The Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies and Oppositions were greatly enriched by Italian and Spanish intellectuals, such as Giorgio Ciucci, Masimo Scolari, and Rafael Moneo, who were in place in the Institute and had a direct impact on the magazine at a certain moment’ (op cit p.60). Peter Eisenman, one of the editors, designed the first cover and graphics which he wasn’t happy with so Massimo Vignelli was invited to design the magazine, changing the journal’s cover from grey to orange. Eisenman also recounts that they naughtily predated articles, so articles got first billing in history books.


The Library has also recently acquired some more Architectural Design magazines from the 1960s and 1970s in mint condition and with their covers intact. Edited by Monica Pidgeon and staff including Technical Editor Robin Middleton and Art Editor Peter Murray, contributors included many people associated with the AA including Theo Crosby, Kenneth Frampton, Peter Cook and Peter Smithson. Peter Eisenman remembers at Colombia when ‘He [Jim Stirling] brought with him a copy of Architectural Design …. and it blew my mind away. It was so different from any other magazine that we had in the United States.’(op cit, p.60).

(all references:  Beatriz Colomina and Craig Buckley, ed. ‘Clip, stamp, fold: the radical architecture of little magazines 196X – 197X’ (Barcelona : Actar, 2010).