Koolhaas' journalism work won him fame in architecture before he completed a single building. The switch from storyteller to architect was more a change in the script than a professional shift. He pointed out that "[architecture] is a form of scriptwriting that implicitly describes human and spatial relationships." Restating the role of architecture in defining daily life beyond buildings and cities' construction, architecture is also a written and spoken tool capable of explaining daily worldwide events, giving voices to unspoken projects, and actively shaping the future of the architect's role.
Architectural Writing: The Latest Architecture and News
Architecture criticism and journalism are often expected to announce “the good, the bad, and the ugly” in architecture and the built environment. Its purposes go however further than that. As Michael Sorkin put it, “seeing beyond the glittering novelty of form, it is criticism’s role to assess and promote the positive effects architecture can bring to society and the wider world”. In other words, by telling us what they are seeing, critics are also showing us where to look in order to identify and address the issues plaguing our built environment.
The field of architecture journalism has been led by female writers even in times when the pursuit of a career in architecture was discouraged and inaccessible for women. Ada Louise Huxtable established the profession of architecture journalism by holding the first full-time position of architecture critic at a general-interest American newspaper. In 1970, she also received the first-ever Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Esther McCoy started her career as a draughtswoman at an architecture office, yet, because of her gender, she was discouraged from training as a professional architect despite her ambitions to study the field. Through her writings, she managed to bring attention to the overlooked architectural scene of the American West Coast and advocate for the values of regional Modernism.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
Writer Eva Hagberg and I have known each other for a long time. Way back, in a year I can’t remember, I assigned her one of her first magazine assignments. Literally, dozens of other assignments followed. So it was with some anticipation, and a bit of surprise, that I received her new book When Eero Met His Match: Aline Louchheim Saarinen and the Making of an Architect (Princeton University Press), an intriguing hybrid text, one-part Aline and Eero biography, one part memoir of Hagberg’s experiences as a design writer and publicist. (I am briefly mentioned in the book.) The book’s main argument is that Aline Saarinen largely invented the role of the architectural publicist. Recently I traveled out to the Brooklyn Navy Yard to talk to a very pregnant Eva about the impetus for her new book, its dual structure, and the journalistic ethics of Aline Saarinen.
What is the most misused word in the world of architectural writing? Could it be "iconic"? What about "innovative"? The staff over at Curbed have a nomination: referring to spaces as either "masculine" or "feminine." In an op-ed published last month, they write that "the people who write about decor and design need to stop describing spaces with gendered terms," arguing: "Let's say two spaces were written up in a decor blog, and one was described as masculine, and the other feminine. Which would have white walls? Which would have raw concrete floors? ... If these have fairly easy answers, it's because we're in the realm of stereotype."
The following in an excerpt from Carter Wiseman's Writing Architecture: A Practical Guide to Clear Communication about the Built Environment. The book considers the process, methods, and value of architecture writing based on Carter Wiseman’s thirty years of personal experience writing, editing, and teaching young architects how to write. This book creatively tackles a problematic issue that Wiseman considers to crucial to successful architecture writing: clarity of thinking and expression.
Some years ago, a writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education declared, “Too many architecture students can’t write.”  Those students have since gone on to become practitioners, and their inability to write is likely to have had seriously negative professional consequences. Robert Campbell, a Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic for the Boston Globe, condemned in Architectural Record much of what even the most prominent practicing architects write as “pretentious illiteracy.” He went on to attack their coded language as “ArchiSpeak”and warned that “sooner or later, architects (and planners and landscapers and urban designers) must convince someone to hire them or at least bless them with a grant. . . . Nobody is going to trust a dollar to a pompous twit.” 
The Architects’ Journal recently announced its call for entries for the “AJ Writing Prize,” its annual search for “the best new architectural writer.”
Back in 2011 (how did I miss this?) they published a treatise on the qualities of good architectural writing penned by one of the prize’s judges, architect Alan Berman.
Now, please consider that I am butchering his essay by removing this quote from the stream of his thinking, but, that being said, this paragraph stands out:
Architectural writing should aid everyone’s understanding of buildings and assist architects to design better ones. This is not to say that it should be an instruction manual or ignore the importance of the myriad intellectual endeavours which explore the human predicament –about which architects should always be conscious. Rather it is to say that architectural commentary should aim for clarity and precision of expression by means of lucid terminology and simplicity of structure.
This strikes me as a very technical and precise way of producing writer’s block. If this is the extent of good architectural writing, or writing that is in the service of architecture, then “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”