For some time, RECORD’s final issue of the year has examined arts and culture, and this one is no different. The arts have a unique ability to simultaneously reflect the times, give insight into them, and sometimes offer an escape from them. (A distraction from reality would be very welcome right about now.)
The coverage in this issue, however, takes a different tack, as we explore not only buildings for arts and culture, but also how culture, and representations of it—both physical and not—continue to change: the Sphere in Las Vegas immediately comes to mind. Taking the shape of the earth itself, this venue for concerts, theater, and film is adorned on its outer surface with 1.2 million LED nodes that turn it into a 360-degree digital billboard with dramatically different looks. It is unabashedly of our time. Yet, as contributing editor Izzy Kornblatt points out in this month’s Forum, its simple form and fantastical yet sometimes apocalyptic message, is rooted in history.
The smooth, digital sheen of the Sphere is contrasted by the gritty and haptic Pyramid of Tirana in Albania, also in Forum. That project turns history upside down. Originally built as a museum dedicated to that country’s Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, it has been transformed by Dutch architects MVRDV, who added steps to the building’s sloping facades, allowing the people of Albania, in no uncertain terms, to walk all over the former dictator’s monument.
As we move into 2024, we will be making some changes in the choices of topics we feature. For example, our January issue is focusing on transportation instead of schools, taking a particular look at how outdated infrastructure can be converted into parks and urban oases—a trend that can be seen across the globe.
And with very few exceptions in the recent past, Record Houses has always been featured in April. A favorite issue among many readers of the magazine, it is always eagerly anticipated. In 2024, the anticipation will last a little longer, as we move Record Houses to September.
You may ask why. The reason is pragmatic, and has long been discussed among the editorial team. RECORD is one of the last publications on architecture where the writer actually visits the projects we select for each issue—especially Record Houses. One year, I went to see a house in upstate New York where the landscape and a striking subterranean feature were key aspects of the design. Production schedules for an April issue meant the visit would have to be in February, and those parts of the house were unfortunately buried under several feet of snow. That was a shame.
So, have a look at our 2024 editorial calendar on our website—you’ll find some other changes for the year ahead. Still others may come as surprises. As with most things, we are hoping to acknowledge our history while solving certain problems, and emphasizing flexibility.