Architectural Forum is no longer in publication, but I recently found a large stack of past issues and have been browsing, studying and admiring this beautiful work of art. It was an industry magazine focusing on architecture and the building arts, however the layout and the language used in the magazine attracted a larger audience.
Originally, the magazine was called The Brickbuilder (I traced back an issue dating back to 1892. It became Architectural Forum in 1917 and was in circulation monthly since then.
In 1932, Henry Luce, founder of Fortune magazine purchased Architectural Forum and led the magazine through its best years. It was a rare instance for Luce to buy a magazine instead of creating one. A popular story is that he was building a house at the time and wanted to have some firsthand information about the subject.
Writers and editors at Architectural Forum analyzed and critiqued American architecture and urban planning. Some issues featured new buildings on its covers, while others were devoted to larger themes of urban planning, particular building types (schools were a favorite), individual cities, and the general architectural profession.
In 1952, Architectural Forum decided to take a more consistent approach to the design of its covers and hired Japanese American Ray Komai to lead the transformation. Through his 10 years at the magazine, Komai created some of the most stunning and memorable covers.
Browse every issue in PDF format