In her cheery new book Dark Age Ahead, Jane Jacobs writes, with disturbing matter-of-factness:
Another form of architects’ self-regulation is to ban criticism of another’s work, especially criticism that can be heard or read by outsiders. This is why one reads few critical reviews by architects of new buildings, in comparison with reviews by writers, say, of books, drama, and film, or by musicians of musical compositions and performances. Architects’ mutual protection from adverse notice extends, when possible, to criticism by outsiders as well. When I was hired as an editor and writer by an architectural journal, the editor in chief gave me quickly to understand that I must shun critical comment. Otherwise, he explained, not only would our magazine stir up an unpleasant ruckus, but all architects, including those whose work was most interesting, would refuse us information and permission to publish their designs — a death sentence for the magazine.
…Almost always we published only proposals, buildings, or projects we could unreservedly admire, or that the editor in chief unreservedly admired, ignoring others. So for an architect to get his work published in a journal where it could be seen by clients was a compliment, rather like a low-key award. We were attuned to reputations within the profession, and we bowed obsequiously to fashion (a word we never mentioned; architecture has styles, not fashions), as did the architects themselves. Leafing through design and architectural journals a half century later, I see that they still abide by the familiar restrictions.
People get their knickers in a twist when a slick like Vanity Fair writes its advertisers up fawningly. Business has leached into editorial, the horror, the horror! Yet here we have an entire profession engaged, for fifty years, according to Jacobs, in the systematic practice of omerta. I don’t follow the architectural literature, but I know some of my readers do. Is this true? And if it is, why isn’t it a scandal?