Architects’ rush to Twitter and Pinterest makes blogging seem so 2008. But the recent launch of two blogs, by Perkins+Will and Westlake Reed Leskosky, proves that the medium is both relevant and worth the commitment of extra resources. In that spirit, we went scouting for others making good use of the platform. Ten that caught our eye include professional resources and conversation starters, plus a few more typical examples that broadcast news in a lively or visually elegant manner.
Boston-based Utile calls itself a design firm “built like a think tank,” and its blog reveals the substance of that tagline. Posts contemplate aspects of the historic constructed environment and comment on new buildings conceived by other architects, while others intimate a certain obsession with environmental graphics. In all, the blog pulls back the curtain on inspirations and musings. Similar kudos goes to endearingly named Spamos (from the New York City–based design firm Mapos).
Just-launched recool may become the grounded alternative to breathless green technology coverage you find on Inhabitat or Jetson Green. Conceived and operated by Westlake Reed Leskosky, the new website is devoted to technology solutions for sustainable architecture. Case studies of completed WRL buildings examine CFD analysis, predicted versus actual metrics, and more. Most promising is recool’s Yelp-like products tab, which supplies real commentary about applications, claims, and lifecycle costs. Hopefully testy manufacturers won’t short-circuit the comments section.
Scroll down BNIM website’s press tab to arrive at the architecture firm’s official blog. Its subjects range from green technology solutions to art to social media in urban planning. Viewed in tandem with BNIM’s Facebook profile and case studies (find the latter under the research tab), the reader gets a broad, triple-bottom-line understanding of sustainability—and a possible roadmap for recool’s growth.
This Gensler effort is a print magazine foremost, yet the professionally written publication has been translated into a digital environment with great sensitivity to the original hard copy. The website is sympathetic to users, too, in particular because you can access stories without having to launch a pinwheel-spinning desktop reader. Dialogue is part of a larger portfolio of reports, videos, and other information-sharing tools, and while Gensler projects are at the core of their inquiries, very few shout the company name.
Large architecture firms often use their blogs as platforms for non-namesake staff. So what distinguishes FXFOWLE’s blog from, say, Life at HOK? In a word, secularism. Writers include employees and outside professionals and topics range from infrastructure in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to Art Basel Miami Beach—and the New York–based architecture firm is very rarely the subject of these narratives. In short, the blog is an earnest attempt at professional service.
With this project’s launch in early December, Perkins+Will officially entered the blogosphere. Participants are encouraged to share their ideas about urban infrastructure, the relationship between architecture and public health, plug loads, and more, and company cheerleading, while it exists, isn’t offensive. Whereas Utile’s blog is the virtual refrigerator door for a curious family and FXFOWLE’s blog appears like a conversation with the larger world, ideas+buildings is an agora for a multinucleated community. Bonus points for the graphic design.
Life of an Architect
Even though we’re staring into the gaping maw of 2013, it feels like the early aughts on Life of an Architect. Bernbaum Magadini Architects associate principal Bob Borson treats his digital diary in the confessional and modest manner that the blog format originally intended. The Dallas-based architect’s discussion of materials, the occasional existential dilemma, and other day-to-day scenes should be relatable to most working professionals. Durham, North Carolina–based architect Jody Brown offers a slightly snarkier—or as he might say, angst-y—take on similar subjects at Coffee With an Architect. Either should be required reading for high school career day, especially for kids smitten by architectural spectacle.
The navigation bar on ZGF’s homepage spells out its blogging strategy plainly: Facebook, which it joined in November 2011. It has taken to the platform with gusto. ZGF’s timeline sprouts recently completed projects, office-wide charity work, media mentions, and groundbreakings, and these posts also reveal the corporate firm’s pet interests, such as active green technologies and district stormwater management. Another pro of going the Facebook route is that responses are in plain sight, suggesting that feedback informs the design process.
BIG | Bjarke Ingels Group
The darling of contemporary architecture is lauded for his forward-looking approach to buildings. Ingels also deserves praise for incorporating extensive vlogging into his studio’s website.
Foster + Partners
The Foster + Partners website is the only firm to crack Alexa’s top-50 list for most popular architecture websites. Although it is not called a blog, the site’s news tab does the job of one; posts involve competition wins, upcoming appearances, and press statements, like a recent to tribute to Oscar Niemeyer. Foster + Partners breaks the blog mold in the way limited posts move from left to right instead of scrolling endlessly, but the content itself is typical for the category. In other words, fame begets web traffic.