Architectural Review redesign by Alexander Boxill



Graphic designers Alexander Boxill have redesigned architecture magazine the Architectural Review, which relaunches this month.


The redesign is the first in 20 years for the magazine, which was founded in 1896.


Here's some text from the AR followed by a design statement from Violetta Boxill of Alexander Boxill:


The AR will launch its redesign in the April issue. With it, we aim to extend the AR's reputation as the most beautiful, inspirational and insightful architecture magazine in the world. It will be the first update of the AR's graphic identity in more than 20 years, carried out by award-winning designer Violetta Boxill in collaboration with the AR's art director Cecilia Lindgren, and edited by new editor-in-chief Kieran Long.


in honour of the architectural review's tremendous legacy we decided to start our redesign journey by looking back through it's archive. visually, it's graphic heyday was under the art direction of william slack so we chose to re-draw/re-configure one of his original mastheads. therefore embracing the past but introducing a contemporary slant by rendering the letterforms as a merged unit. impossible in Slack's day as he used metal type.


this concept of resurrecting echoes the editorial with the new editor, kieran long, reintroducing sections by reclaiming the names from previous issues of the same era, (skill, marginalia, id, dr, etc).


the magazine is broken down in to 3 main sections, (view, buildings, marginalia)
view - news/current affairs
buildings - global architectural projects
marginalia - reviews/previews


with occasional reoccurring sections, (such as id, dr, outrage, skill) to add variety to each issue. each section has a mini-brand based on one font but rendered with various patterns/colours to introduce an eclectic nature to the magazine. as the year progresses we hope to play with these mini-brands using different paper stocks, spot colours, etc to surprise the reader.


two fonts, (mercury and t-star), a serif and a sans are used in varying hierarchies, weights and intensities throughout the magazine to bring texture and diversity.

we have removed all traditional headlines.
each section has a particular treatment to entice the reader.
view: a large brief overview of text
building: a number - a cataloguing system has been introduced so buildings are numbered for an entire year.
marginalia: a quote

Posted on Tuesday March 24th 2009 at 11:03 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • Rory

    About time.

  • modular

    Looks cool!

  • Much to trendy. The design is more important than the projects

  • lana


  • Laura

    Looks great! I might even start reading it now.

  • hamidu

    … and Architectural Review becomes Frame… or Wallpaper… It even doesn’t make a difference…

    Miss you Peter Davey…

  • I like it!

  • norm

    Unfortunate. AR is trying to be a magazine like MARK / FRAME . a certain vogue effect is placed to make the architectural work appear “light” like a fashion magazine. The problem is that, unlike fashion, buildings remain for ages, and therefore they need to be represented with clarity and uncluttered layouts.. If they want a benchmark, they should take JA, A+U, ARCH+ or Detail and not wallpaper / ID / mark, etc..

  • norm

    people who publish architecture simply have to have a better understanding of architecture, and I’m afraid that they simply don’t. most of them did not study architecture (and if they did, they couln’t become architects..) and for most of them it wouldn’t make a difference whether their subject is architecture or flying cars.

  • Simon

    I was slightly worried about this redesign of the magazine becoming worse than it is now. I beleive the Architects Journal made a bad move by redesigning in 2007 and I just imagained that the AR would probably go down the same route. However, I am delightled by this redesign for the AR. Looks great, attractive and a great read.

  • F

    bless you Hamidu- in the pantheon of great editors , he is up there and never pretended about architecture – HE knew his stuff: never in love with arrchitects , but architecture itself .

    but aleor jacta est I suppose …

  • Sam Marshall

    I will hold off judging the design…. er well, short of saying, I hope that the content is not as superficial as the graphical layout. Yet again an in-vogue aesthetic over content in the Mark/Frame vain…. yes, we do miss Peter Davey indeed!

  • joushua

    I cant wait to buy the 1st issue, it looks very architecturylable

  • Student

    Now all they need to do is revamp their content.

  • John Kavanagh

    Hey! Back to Future what? Why not trawl through old ARs to find the new look? Who wants progressive? Who wants to make their mark on the present? Why not rely on ARs from decades ago? Much cheaper to do it this way.
    John Kavanagh

  • Dan Churchill

    The first time the AR’s been redesigned for 20 years? And now it’s back to what it was 30 odd years ago? Hope they didn’t pay for the ‘redesign’. Has Kieran Long not got any new ideas?

  • Alex

    Looks great, I’m glad they’ve redesigned. It keeps AR at pace with other contemporary design magazines and will make it that much more pleasant to read. And i’m sorry, but some of these critiques coming from the other readers ARE WAY TOO TRADITIONALIST. Loosen up, it’s design for f*cks sake!

  • Takato

    The AR looks refreshed. Although it’s hard to tell what the treatment of the architecture will be from these few pages and fonts, let’s face it, for the past few years, the magazine has just looked tired and unloved. At least now it’s getting some proper attention. I’m glad someone actually cared enough to redesign it! For the past few years, I haven’t even bothered to read it. Now at least I’ll pick an issue up.

  • Alice

    It looks great. The AR has deserved a redesign for a long time.
    The trouble is that most of the pages shown here are from one project, and the images are very brightly coloured and bound to polarise opinion. The pages shown from a different project are very simple and elegant and probably more representative of the design as a whole.

  • Delboy

    Refreshed yet Retro. Certainly sweeps away the cobwebs from the jaded Old Duchess. I’d buy it.

  • spaced_invader

    This looks good. The cover, a doorway, is a positive image for this much needed revamp. “Come inside”.

    The text box with the necessary data is hardly a new idea but here, on this cover at least, it works. Hoping it’s a sticker though – that cover – gorgeous looking project – would be beautiful as an artwork in itself – being able to peel off that text box – how good would that be? I. WANT. TO. PEEL. IT. OK?

    burrowing into AR’s past is a great idea. As Pete Tong is want to say, “Remix…Remix…Remix”. anyway,architects revisit the past when designing all the bloody time – so why not architectural publishers too?

    I’m guessing the content will be good. I’m a subscriber and i see that Catherine Slessor is still writing for AR. Good. She writes brilliantly. Rob Joiner, a practising architect also writes every month for AR. And Kieran Long? He knows his stuff.

    And yeah, as someone said above – a redesigned magazine is a cause for celebration. I hope the new AR is a great success.

  • Arthur

    Judging from these spreads it looks like the design has enabled showing off good projects rather than dominated them. Looking forward to having a proper sit down with it

  • wow!…………review is changing its skin?…….i like it!..its getting better!

  • Fiona May

    The redesign is a much needed refresher for the AR. Whilst content is king, good architectural commentary alone will just not wash with design savvy readers. The design overhaul recognizes this and I think the brave approach will also encourage renewed vigor in the architectural commentary featured. The AR has a huge readership range which moves such as font referencing and dynamic layouts nod towards, without resulting in what could so easily have been design-by-committee.

  • Jamie West Yorkshire

    I stopped subscribing 2 years ago, my passion just fizzled out – Looking at what’s published here I’m excited to give it a go. I want the best international architectural thinking form AR, how it looks can only go so far, but certainly this vibrant and balanced new design is enough temptation – If you can deliver on contact you’ll win a subscriber back!

  • Rob Gregory

    Who the hell is Rob Joiner? – Nothing like an eye for detail, although I have been known to specify plywood in my time.
    We’ll look into the sticky label option.

  • Hackette

    It’s the Shock of the Old, perhaps, but that’s not a bad thing. Bill Slack was the AR’s Colossus of Design (for 33 years) and the new look seems to be harking back to the wit and vigour of his era. Think it’s important to see where all this comes from, rather than condemning it as fashionable meddling. Besides, you can’t judge a mag by its cover. Pick it up and read it.

  • spaced_invader

    Ha Ha – sorry mister gregory – looking forward to finding out if your writing reads differently set among the new scenery.

    Rob the joiner, can he fix it? Rob the joiner, yes he can!

    everbody now…

  • Dear AR staff, it’s great that you all want to leave positive comments on this story but could you please use your real names!



  • F

    dear ” spaced invader ” ..

    both Catherine and Rob have the privilege of not only knowing their field, but also have an honest passion for it .

    so who ‘ s to complain ?

    we are open to read your own architectural critic…

  • space_invader

    Would the real Marcus Fairs please stand up.

  • hamidu

    “Design” doesn’t mean colorful, retro, poppy, trendy…

    Take “Wire”, the music magazine, for a decent magazine outfit…

  • ponythetrap

    Keen eyes Marcus. It was a nicely organised flurry of positive spin though, must have been a rousing water-cooler session at AR HQ.

  • Martin Pawley

    As the late lamented Philip Johnson once said: ‘You can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter’. It may look shiny and new, but look beneath the surface and you will be disappointed. Bill Slack was gifted, but he also had great editorial team to work with. Rip the heart out of the AR and what do you have left? Not much.

  • Paolo Thomas

    God, but people can be so bitchy.

    Why not totally slag off an entire magazine based on a few photos?

    At least let’s wait until someone’s read the thing before burning it at the stake.

  • jack the ripper

    perhaps some of these people have insight knowledge , Paolo,

    great international mags such as Domus and Frame or even Detail, are led by staff who are trully ” wordlywise ” and experienced.

    would you imagine Conde nast reviving their design of 30 years ago ? ( Vanity fair , Vogue).

    off to lunch now …

  • dDifficult to judge without seeing a copy physically

    But broadly positive

    Really like the spreads, loving the clean white space

    Also like some of the concepts behind buildings numbers and other titling sequences

    Not sure about ar logo, it does seem a little bit too super dutch if you get my drift

    Very happy great buildings wont have to wait for appropriate themes

    best of luck


  • N

    Wow they’re going to publish it! I previewed a working draft of this a month or so ago, but I really hope they’ve managed to refine it since then because it was graphic diarroea, just too much going on. It was like someone was trying to put all the ideas they’d ever had onto one page. I look forward to seeing and judging it along with everyone else. I do think maybe the content needs to be looked at too…i stopped subscribing for other much more eye opening publications.

  • N

    on closer look, it does seem a lot more refined..hmmmm.

  • james

    It’s not hideous, but it’s a bit comic-y. It probably won’t be a disaster, as long as it doesn’t become too interiors (as the cover suggests). As a long-time subscriber I remember the good old days of Peter Davey, when it had some really serious writing. Could they not have got a more architectural editor like Ellis Woodman? Having said all that I look forward to receiving my copy, and wish them the best of luck!