Mark Robert Halper

Fifteen years ago this month, the first issue of this magazine appeared in the mailboxes of 30,000 residential architects across the country. For the first time in a very long stretch, designers of housing had a professional publication dedicated to the noble enterprise that is their life’s passion. Their work was no longer ghettoized, relegated to the back of the bus as architecture magazines gave their front seats to big public or commercial buildings and star architects.

We put residential architects on our covers. (You’ll see some of the best of those in the following pages and in an expanded slideshow on our website.) And we helped them find their voice among the public and among their larger-firm peers. In so doing, they reached out to others in residential practice and formed their own interest groups. The first was the Congress of Residential Architecture in 2004, and the next was the Custom Residential Architects Network, which last year was made its own Knowledge Community within the American Institute of Architects. We’re proud of the help we gave and continue to give each group. Both are a mainstay of our annual Reinvention Symposium, now entering its ninth year.

Another long-term success that pleases us is our annual residential architect Design Awards. Founded in 2000, it’s the largest and most competitive housing design program in the country. More than 10,000 entries have flowed through our doors since its inception and, winnowed down to fewer than 400 total winners, they demonstrate the amazing strength and breadth of work residential architects can achieve.

This year, we honored our 2012 winners on the show floor of the AIA National Convention in Washington, D.C., along with the winners of the AIA Housing Awards and the AIA/HUD Secretary’s Awards. It was a magical moment to see our Architect Live Broadcast Center space filled to the brim with award winners and supporters of residential design. Our event was the biggest draw among all the center’s programming. It really felt like residential architects had arrived. Not only did you have a seat at the table, you were at the head of it for a time.

Which brings me to yet another important milestone in our journey. In January 2011, this magazine became a partner magazine of the AIA. So, that coveted seat at the table will last more than just a week for proponents of residential architecture and its practitioners.

With our website—relaunched in 2010—we expanded our reach beyond the architect-to-architect conversation, drawing in all house enthusiasts to explore what constitutes good design. The website has enjoyed very strong growth over the months, demonstrating that as we devote more energy to our digital audience, we’ll reap returns for the residential architecture profession as well. In conjunction with our sister magazine, Custom Home, we founded an “enewsletter” magazine in February that we call Design Studio. It has helped double our impact on both magazines’ websites with a concentrated focus on the custom residential work that architects and builders do so well.

As we celebrate our sweet 15, we have a sad milestone to recall as well. Our founding art director, Judy Neighbor, died four years ago. She helped make us what we are today and we share our 15 years of successes with her.

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