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Remembering Blake Hughes, A Noble Publisher

August 4, 2009

By Martin Filler

Blake Hughes, a longtime publisher at McGraw-Hill—most notably of Architectural Record magazine, which he headed from 1968 to 1981—died in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 11. He was 94.

Hughes was known in international planning circles for his particular concern with the housing and infrastructure problems of developing countries. During his years at RECORD, he founded the International Architectural Foundation, which he led from 1973 to 1978. The organization was dedicated to alleviating living conditions in Third World slums, as addressed in an ambitious design competition it sponsored for Greater Manila, which won admiration among specialists but was never implemented by the regime of Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, who preferred to build more grandiose monuments to his rule.

Blake Hughes
Photo courtesy Hughes family
Blake Hughes
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Hughes was born in New York City on June 24, 1914, to Ferdinand Holme Hughes and Inez de Cordova Hughes, and graduated from Dartmouth College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, in 1936. He then received a degree from the Sorbonne, and studied business administration at Dartmouth’s Amos Tuck School and Columbia University.

He served in the U.S. Navy from 1940 to 1945, and during World War II rose to the rank of lieutenant, received a commendation from the Secretary of the Navy, and was decorated for his service to the Soviet Union with its Order of the Fatherland War.

At McGraw-Hill, he was publisher of House and Home and Housing magazines before becoming publisher of Architectural Record, where he also launched Architectural Record Books, a highly successful imprint that issued an extensive series of illustrated books on domestic architecture, as well as anthologies of writings first published in the magazine. These included essays by the architecture and social critic Lewis Mumford, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s nine-part “In the Cause of Architecture” series, which RECORD had commissioned during a low point in the architect’s career in 1927.

A trustee of Trinity College in Maine from 1965 to 1975, Hughes is survived by his wife, Betty; a daughter, Diane Young, of Red Lodge, Montana; a son, Brian, of Houston; and six grandchildren. 

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