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Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review: Mark No. 17

Mark No. 17
December 2008 - January 2009




Issue 17 of Mark -- a Dutch magazine subtitled "Another Architecture" -- is the first in its newly designed incarnation. Looking at an old issue of the magazine, I found the following changes: The magazine is smaller. The paper size is reduced (about 1" or 2.5cm vertically and half that horizontally) and it is slimmer, even though there are only 15 fewer pages in the newer issue. These translate to a lower cover price, which makes Mark still relatively expensive but not so expensive that one feels they could be buying a book instead. Of course part of the appeal of Mark is its graphic design, consistent and thorough enough to make one consider both old and new issues as more book than magazine...if one can ignore the ads, of course. But the page layout and graphics of issue 17 should be commended for balancing itself with the content. In issue 2, for example, the graphics sometimes overpowers the text and images, as if the designers were trying to hard to be different or make a statement. The smaller, slimmer version gives the foreground to the articles, without completely eschewing the skillful 2d layout and design that make the magazine visually interesting.

The "new" Mark is structured the same as previous issues. A Notice Board with single-images and brief descriptions on new projects is followed by a Cross Section, where completed buildings receive longer copy, but not as much depth as the Long Section, the main beef of the issue with articles on buildings, exhbitions, designers, cities, etc. Viewpoint focuses on individual architects or firms and the Service Area concludes each issue, with a potpourri of books, products and materials. In both issues I looked at it was refreshing to see architects (Liz Diller and Manuelle Gautrand) exlcusively discussing books, more so that their viewpoints differed so much. This difference is a good way of summarizing Mark, as the varied buildings, architects and other topics within the pages leads to a multifarious publication. One does not only see the latest buildings by the world's well-known architects. Projects and practices, big and small, from various continents find themselves side by side in the magazine's pages, where the new design helps solidify the varied voices into one well-designed package.

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