December 22, 2005
Donald J. Canty,
who died December 14 in Seattle, transformed the AIA Journal
from a practice-oriented monthly into an acclaimed international
design magazine, renamed it Architecture in 1984, and edited
it until the Institute sold it to a commercial publisher in
1989. Had he been asked, he probably would have named Architecture
his top professional accomplishment and passion.
the AIA in 1974, Canty founded City, a short-lived magazine
championing urban life and the amelioration of poverty and
social injustice. His zeal for racial equality spurred two
volumes: One Year Later (1969), a response to the Kerner Commission
Report on urban violence and A Single Society: Alternatives
to Urban Apartheid (also 1969). Canty, born in Oakland in
1929, started his career as an editor with Western Architect
and Engineer, and then moved to New York City as a senior
editor of Architectural Forum before launching City.
Cantys broad interests. He broke ground with articles
on energy conservation, adaptive reuse of old buildings, indoor
air pollution and with post-occupancy building evaluations.
He created an annual review of new American architecture and
devoted entire issues to cities of every description, works
by previously unpublished architects, photographs by architects,
and architects drawings.
Canty was nonconforming,
rebellious, ethical, humane, and possessed of a quicksilver
mind and a mulish determination, as attested by publishers
who tried to bring him and his magazine to heel, or by people
who offered physical help. Disabled by childhood polio, he
moved with difficulty on metal crutches.
He liked to say
that one reason for Architectures success was that it
was not a democracy. Once hired, however, staffers were fiercely
defended and given plenty of rope to hang themselves--or could
forge a career. Canty also assembled a stable of talented
contributing editors, including Pulitizer Prize winners Robert
Campbell in Boston, and Allan Temko in San Francisco.
In its insistence
on editorial independence, innovation, and casting a broad
net, Cantys Architecture was a father to todays
Record. Indeed, Records Editor-in-chief, Robert Ivy,
FAIA, who freelanced for Architecture throughout the 1980s,
credits Canty as a mentor.