After exhaustive research (a.k.a. my internet explorer history) and peer feedback (I asked some people I know) I have created “the” definitive listing of the Best Architectural Websites in the World for 2016. In all seriousness, I have spent weeks putting this list together, read far more cruddy websites than I care to think about, and fallen behind on Marco Polo in my effort to bring you a quality list of architectural websites that should be in your online rotation. I only had three (well, technically 5 but those are listed at the bottom) pieces of criteria when cultivating this list:
a) you had to publish regularly
It’s surprising to see how often the good websites can’t maintain momentum after a relatively short period of time. I suppose it shouldn’t be all that surprising to me, I’ve been doing this for 6 years and stopped being good at it 2 years ago
b) You had to have some sort of editorial or 1st person narratives
I prefer to read websites that are written by a person – even better if it’s someone I can relate to on some level. I don’t particularly care about faceless organizations unless they produce really good content. I have removed most aggregate sites from my list for this reason.
c) you can’t be a forceful vacuum
I give a lot of credit for effort – both in real life and in my architectural websites. If you have a site and can’t be bothered with generating your own content, or adding your voice to the conversation – I’m probably not coming back. Simply sharing a link to someone else’s site isn’t good enough to make this list.
Since I don’t have a blogroll on my site, I am going to put together a yearly list of my favorite websites. So let’s get to it – in no particular order, Life of an Architect’s Favorite Websites for 2016:
What exactly is this website?!? I don’t exactly know but I love it and I keep going back to it over and over again. The website was created by Matt Flynn and Joel Baker with all photography by Peter Chadwick. If you love Brutalism, Modernism, Post War, Social Housing, all presented randomly in beautiful black and white photography (along with a seemingly endless supply of closeup images of cast-in-place concrete, then this is the site for you.
Maybe it’s because I am getting a little bit older – I almost wrote “mature” [shudder] – but I decided to put Architectural Digest on this year’s list because I am finding myself on this site more and more. I’ve been perusing the magazine for at least a decade and I can assure you, this is not your mother’s Architectural Digest. Starting a few years ago, they started including more modern architectural projects and fewer images of $50,000 custom rugs. Don’t get me wrong, the rugs are still there, but their architecture game is strong.
Beware of this site … it’s a rabbit hole. Once you start looking, you are going to miss your next birthday before you realize that you’ve been scrolling non-stop for a year. In the words of the site’s creators: Design of the World is curated by Josephmark – a digital ventures practice that believes in the world-changing power of a great idea. It’s a space for us to shine a light on creativity we’re inspired by – design that’s educational, eco-friendly or just plain awesome. Design that’s independent, innovative or community-driven. And design that’s always – always – produced with ethics and integrity.
Metropolis Magazine is one of my favorite design magazines so it stands to reason that I would like the website as well (surprise!) Hard to really back this up with empirical data but I seem to find stuff on the Metropolis site that I don’t find anywhere else – and in this day and age where people seem to freely borrow from one another that’s really saying something. From their website, “Metropolis examines contemporary life through design—architecture, interior design, product design, graphic design, crafts, planning, and preservation.”
The Architect’s Newspaper is a news site for projects, news, competitions, job postings and much more. I actually get The Architect’s Newspaper at my office and there’s almost always at least one “Huh, I didn’t know that” about something that I care about in each issue. As a result, I have been putting this site in my lunch day rotation. They have a terrific online presence and seem to associate themselves with high quality writers – two extremely important considerations where this list is concerned.
If you tell me that you’ve already heard of the website biber, you’re either lying or have an unhealthy web addiction. Whichever camp you fall in, I totally get it. Spend some time on this site and there isn’t a digital 12-step program that wouldn’t cut you some slack. Not only is it an engaging site, you can refine the areas you look at to categories focused on sketching, art, competitions, essays … kind of everything you would ever want to know.
A highly curated assortment of quick reads and pretty pictures. I have high hopes for this site but I’ll admit that I almost left them off … they don’t seem to be all that active. They’re off to a terrific start, let’s just hope that they decide to stick with things (a piece of friendly advice to defringe: this internet thing is going to work out, you should keep at it).
Not the prettiest website … not all that easy to navigate either. So why’d it make my list? Because I use it and it’s bookmarked in my browser. You can search by architect, by building, geographic location, timeline, style, etc. If I ever travel someplace, I always stop by the Great Buildings Collection just to make sure I’m not missing something.
Weekly musings from architect and educator Lee Calisiti, Think | Architect is an architectural blog for architects and advanced fans of architecture. Lee writes about his architectural practice, educating future architects, and the cause and effect the two have with one another. Other entries are more akin to professional reactions to his daily experiences as a sole-practitioner architect.
Lee has been on this list before and it always takes me just a moment of deliberation on whether or not I should continue to include it. It’s an easy answer because Lee’s website is the serious (and smarter) version of my website. If you are here on Life of an Architect (and we know thar you are), you should also be on Think | Architect.
This is a user-curated content website (I’m sure Section Cut Founder and President Robert Yuen would have a fit for my decidedly low-brow description of his concept) and the options of content there are seemingly endless. The thing about Section Cut that I like is that you can follow the curated content from specific individuals. You know, there are a lot of digitally involved people out there that don’t have their own website but still have a voice and an opinion worth checking out.
If you want, you can also curate your own content and add it to the ever growing collection of things worth checking out.
Life of an Architecture Student
Just what it sounds like … except as far as architecture students blogs go, this one creates content and updates her site with regularity. There are quick, rapid-fire entries that can be read in no time and if you are an architecture student – or just curious about being an architecture student – there is a spot where you can send your questions. Just be warned, it might take some time to get a response, this is an architectural student website and she’s probably on a deadline. Actually, I think she’s recently turned off the “messages” feature so unless you can find the answer for yourself, you might be out of luck.
This is the second time I’ve included Architizer on the list and I think it deserves such recognition (I’m sure they’ll sleep well tonight knowing I’ve included them in this list). Along with Bjarke Ingels, Jeanne Gang, and Brad Cloepfil, I have been an Architizer A+ Awards judge for the past three years and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time on the Architizer website. The entire website is a proverbial rabbit hole and it’s easy to get lost in all the images and projects – however – to keep things a bit more manageable, I really like the “Project of the Day” feature they have as it allows me to get a little architectural eye-candy fix and be on my way.
Interesting website – basically a site that geo-locates some of your favorite projects. Officially, ICONIC HOUSES is the international network connecting architecturally significant houses and artists’ homes and studios from the 20th century that are open to the public as house museum.
I’ve known Lora for a few years now and when I told her I was putting my list together of the best architectural websites, she asked me if I had the Young Architect angle covered … Uhm, I supposed I do, but maybe I don’t? I suppose that is part of what makes Lora … Lora. She is active, engaged, involved and dedicated, and wants to help young architects (which is her own peer group). She’s a published author and frequently covers topics on her blog that I don’t touch. There is a generational gap between the two of us, and I think some topics are better covered when written peer-to-peer (aka young people). There’s only so many articles I can write about taking the architectural exam (answer: one) and Lora can cover you much more thoroughly.
Everyone knows that architecture students are always in the studio … Stuck in Studio is an architectural blog geared towards architecture students and the excitement, opportunities, and challenges unique to architecture students. There are plenty of architecture student blogs, I just think this one is the best. This is the one site that sort of breaks my rule since they haven’t posted in a while – my message to them? Get it going! [oh yeah, they are probably in stuck in the studio]
So that’s it – there are only 15 websites on this year’s list, the fewest I have included since I started this recurring topic 4 years ago. Now before you start beating me up in the comment section (“Why didn’t you include my site?!?”) I have an easy answer for you:
- I don’t love your website. Don’t take it personally, it’s not judgment on you, maybe you talk about things that aren’t relevant to me and as a result, I don’t spend my limited free time reading stuff that I don’t need to know. I also don’t watch cat videos and I actually like those. I’m trying to pick my battles here.
- I’ve already included it before and the people who read my site already know about your site – keeping them there is up to you.
- I don’t know anything about it, which in that case, just tell me what it is down below in the comment section. Fair warning – my site automatically holds comments that have links in them so if you don’t see your comment instantly, don’t worry, I just need some time to let it out of comment jail.
- You don’t publish often enough. Pretty self-explanatory but if you publish sporadically or infrequently, you are going to lose my attention.
- Maybe you’ll get on next year’s list – that’s a real possibility. These are just the list of the website I have visited the most over the past year.
I think this is a pretty good list and while there are possibly several on this list that you’ve heard of, I’m pretty sure I’ve included a few that you’ve never visited before. I am always on the lookout for awesome additional websites to look at myself (and to possibly share), if you know of a site that I left off the list, just put it in the comment section below … who knows, maybe it’ll make it on to the next top list of architectural websites. I will ask that you don’t just submit your own website (that’s rather jejune, don’t you think?) unless it really is amazing – but please, please, make sure that whatever links you submit meet the selection criteria I mentioned at the very top of this article.
Lastly, just so you don’t miss it, I’m going to repeat myself – My site automatically holds comments with links in them for moderation so if your submission doesn’t show up, give me some time to check it out. If after a day or two it still hasn’t shown up … well, do I really need to spell it out?