“I look forward to seeing the results of this survey in the next issue of arcCA.” Happy to oblige.
A big “Thank you” to the roughly 560 AIACC members who responded to the recent online survey. Like most surveys, this one confirmed some things we thought we knew, at the same time offering new insights. We learned that 48% of respondents read “many of the articles” in an issue, while 19% read only articles relevant to their work. 35% of respondents recycle the magazine once they’ve read it (or without reading it); 65% retain it for future reference or pass it along to others. Of those who report that they don’t read arcCA, 17% simply aren’t interested; the other 83% can’t find the time. 37% consider arcCA an important benefit of membership in the AIACC; 44% consider it “semi important”; 19% consider it of no importance.
In the written comments, generally positive thoughts outnumbered generally negative ones; if we combine mixed comments with the negative ones, the two sides balance pretty closely by word count. Those respondents who expressed a strong position either pro or con offered the liveliest reading, especially in comparison to one another (see sidebar), but for the Editor the more useful comments were ones that suggest one or another form of concrete reorientation, such as, “I would have a much more favorable impression of the magazine if it made a greater effort to reach out to the membership,” and, “It is important for architecture to be more in the public realm, therefore I support the publication. How can it become more relevant and more widely distributed?”
Both of these observations will be more readily addressed in our new online format (please see my “Comment,” page 5). Not surprisingly, opinion was divided on the relative desirability of the print edition vs. online publication—though we should note that a fundamental limitation of an online survey is that it tends to exclude those who are less active online. Also, readers who report that they do not like arcCA aren’t likely to be as familiar with its ongoing content as those who say they do.
Promising suggestions for future content include:
“I’d like to see more in the way of on the ground architecture works and historic projects (less of the ‘glitz and glam’ stuff that every other architecture magazine makes its forte.)”
“Data on potential grads, which schools are the best, salaries, arch exam data, who is passing, who is not, etc.” “More articles on historical buildings, California architects (especially those architects of the 1920s thru 1960s).”
“You should get Rob Sawyer, AIA former publisher/editor of Architectural Business Magazine to write a column.”
“I enjoy seeing hand sketches included with the articles.”
“More detailed information would be appreciated—floor plans, program diagrams.”
“We have enough info on design projects in the major cities, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego. It’d be nice if you had some stuff in rural areas and smaller cities. Go speak to some students in SLO, cover a practice in the Central Valley, feature some barns and other types of agricultural structures. It’s not all about slick modern skyscrapers and urban places.”
“Perhaps some articles on how to work with various state agencies, some articles on ‘rank and file’ architects’ experiences.”
“There are some members who may not be AIA but Assoc. AIA members with other licenses such as Structural or Civil etc., who practice architecture as well. It would be nice to focus a bit on what other members are doing.”
“You need to solicit and publish more articles critical of the profession. Too much back patting.”
“I like stories about the craft of building, artists who are involved in architectural projects, unusual projects and inventive solutions to everyday problems.”
We did receive a couple of bits of discouraging evidence regarding the distribution of the journal: “I have never heard of such publication!” and “I am a member of Santa Barbara AIA but I do not receive arcCA—never have. Don’t know why this survey is here.”
Several careful readers pointed out typographic and other deficiencies in the survey itself. We apologize for these errors. The survey did not go through the same editorial review as arcCA itself, the Editor being down for the count with an elaborate knee fracture. The latter is now repaired and healing apace.
I would especially enjoy hearing from the respondent who wrote, “I would like to run a television show featuring some of the articles [from] the magazine. I am a real estate agent working on my license in California—38 years old.” He or she may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.