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Atlas response.

SIR: I read with interest your review of The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture (AR August), having spent two years on the book as project editor. I would like to take this opportunity to address a number of issues.

I especially want to comment on the issue of the 'elusive editors'. While the extensive list of names in the end matter credits those who made a 'one-off' contribution to the book, from writers and nominators, to students who helped with scanning, a separate list crediting those who worked full-time on the project for two years was inexplicably excluded from the final proofs. The individuals concerned include project editor (myself), assistant editor (Rosie Fairhead), editorial researcher (Catherine Langford), production supervisor (Paul Hammond) and two picture researchers (Helen Stallion and Claire Gouldstone). While the making of The Atlas was a team effort, the elimination of these credits from the book, I feel, needs to be addressed. I take the opportunity to do so here.

On the question of geography, this was used as a tool to divide the world into six continents--in the same way and order as a conventional atlas. The 'sometimes bizarre' groupings you mention come about for cartographic reasons. For example, the UK does not fit easily onto one page (except at an unacceptably small scale), and so was divided into north and south. It so happens that the land mass of Ireland appears, to scale, on the same map as 'UK South'. The number of projects presented for Ireland, unlike Japan, for instance, did not warrant a separate map of its own. Hence the cartography-related groupings.

Many of the comments you make elsewhere in the review relate to the presentation of the projects images, drawings, allocation of space and so on. Decisions made regarding these were heavily impacted upon by the seemingly never-ending process of requesting, receiving and processing over 10 000 images, supplied by architects and photographers

worldwide. Despite requests for images and drawings in standard format, material arrived in every format and medium imaginable. While it would have been desirable to commission new drawings (floor plans with scale and north points for example), this was simply not possible.

The other constraint that had a significant impact on the project was the quality of images supplied. While many architects are familiar with the importance of supplying high quality, original material for publication, many are most definitely not. Some were of such poor quality that they could not be used at all.

Where necessary, we did contact architects to request better quality images to present their work to the best possible advantage. In some cases, a re-supply was not possible and decisions about how to use the images we had inevitably had an impact on how much space was allocated to each project.

If I have any regrets, it is that the book does not have more work produced 1998-2003. We reviewed over 4000 projects for possible inclusion. Perhaps, as you suggest, a website would be the most appropriate forum. But to achieve this, the random, subjective nature of a group editorial panel would need to be eliminated in favour of an inclusive, objective and non-judgmental position.

And finally, I would like to end this letter with one final acknowledgement. During the many hours, days, weeks and months that went into researching. The Atlas, The Architectural Review was without a doubt one of the most indispensable resources.

Yours etc

VIRGINIA MCLEOD

London N4, UK
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:McLeod, Virginia
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 1, 2004
Words:577
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Next Article:So here you go again, AR.


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