Originally a periodical largely concerned with the aesthetics of British Arts and Crafts architecture, the London‐based Architectural Review (AR) later became a significant vehicle for the discussion of many aspects of design practice, theory, and culture. In 1913 it underwent a radical redesign, with an increased page size and enhanced standards of photographic reproduction and, at the same time, its content was broadened to embrace more fully furniture, interiors, and other design topics. Both developments were intended to woo the interested general public in addition to members of the architectural and design professions.
In the 1920s and 1930s coverage of Scandinavian and European design was considerably increased, and a number of eminent figures drawn from the artistic and literary worlds were commissioned as contributors. An important shift of emphasis followed the appointment of Hubert de Cronin Hastings as editor in 1927 and John Betjeman as assistant editor in 1929. However, more significant still was the appointment of J. M. Richards as Betjeman's replacement in 1935, from which time the AR was characterized by a much more vigorous coverage of Modernist architecture and design. Important contributors during these years included the historian and design researcher Nikolaus Pevsner and Philip Morton Shand, who was friendly with leading practitioners such as Walter Gropius, Alvar Aalto, and Le Corbusier. Furthermore, an increasing range of articles by progressive foreign architects and designers was carried. As well as many articles which addressed questions of functionalism and industrial design, Richards's own contribution also affected the appearance of the magazine: leading articles were printed on handmade paper and wallpapers were incorporated into the editorial pages. This use of varied papers to signify shifts in content in different sections of the magazine lasted for more than 50 years. Also significant in the AR's advocacy of modernism was its use of high‐quality photography, with Frank Yerbury, M. O. Dell, and H. L. Wainwright prominent in the field.
After the Second World War (during which Pevsner undertook a spell as temporary editor), Hastings and Richards resumed editorial control. Whilst the Festival of Britain of 1951 provided an important platform for the AR's Modernist leanings, a discernible breath of fresh air accompanied the appointment to the staff in 1952 of Peter Reyner Banham. He brought with him a profound interest in materials and techniques as well as a developing interest in American popular culture and, from 1960, edited a ‘World’ section which, through its scanning of more than 100 magazines, kept readers up to date with international developments and debates of significance.
The 1960s witnessed considerable upheavals at the AR with the departure of Banham in 1964 and the retirement of Pevsner from the editorial board in the following year. In a period of significant social change and given the allure of Postmodernism there was growing uncertainty and debate about the future direction of architecture and Modernism. Financial problems also began to impose themselves and, in 1970, Hastings sacked Richards before stepping down himself three years later. During the 1980s, despite a more positive sense of editorial direction with the publication of themed issues across a wide range of topics from shopping centres to the environment, problems of finance and changes of ownership continued to overshadow the magazine's prospects. In the 1990s new ownership was accompanied by increased investment and managerial improvements and a period of greater stability ensued.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.