Monday was the official beta launch* of Architizer, "a new way for architects to interact, show their work, and find clients...an open community created by architects for architects." Developed by Marc Kushner, Matthias Hollwich (both of HWKN), Ben Prosky (Columbia University) and Alex Diehl (KREATIVEKONZEPTION*), the site is being referred to as "Facebook for architects" by many, what with its social networking framework, but it's actually closer to LinkedIn's focus on professional relationships. Comparisons aside, at first glance Architizer is a sharp-looking page that is almost guaranteed to be popular with its intended audience.
The three main categories on the page are Projects, People and Firms. Just about every architectural publication, blog, etc. is focused on projects, and architecture offices are listed on sites like world-architects.com, where I work, and others. But the inclusion of "people" between these two is where the novelty and potential of the site exists. Returning to LinkedIn, one could say that people already have a networking tool describing their positions in firms, but Architizer does this and combines pretty pictures with it, linking individuals to the projects they worked on.
But will Architizer be the exclusive domain of OMA, other well-known architects and their former employees? Or will it embrace the diversity of architecture all over the world, even projects produced by more lackluster firms? Too much of the latter runs counter to the high-quality projects and name-brand architects that stocked the site before its launch (guidelines for the direction of the site?), but the opposite condition would turn the site into just another page where architects can look at cool projects.
Most likely the site will evolve into something between these two extremes, full of all shades between the good and the bad, though the former will rise to the fore in the mix. This will happen via the filters for each of the three main categories, mainly "featured" and "most viewed." The first is the default, which I'm guessing is controlled by the administrators, and it's pretty much a sure bet that the most viewed projects, people and firms will be the best of the bunch; no painted concrete condos or suburban strip malls at the top of these lists.
Architizer also features Schools, Jobs, Competitions and a Blog. These are certainly secondary to the main bread and butter of the site, though the school feature has great potential, visually exhibiting the strengths of alumni, and therefore the school, more directly than anywhere else. It also looks like the $$ will come from "the window manufacturer [that] sponsors a page for their product used in [a] project" and advertising, though I think the latter will run the risk of cluttering the site, which has a nice legibility to it, rounded corners and all.
*Check out Guest of a Guest for photos from the beta launch party at Storefront for Art and Architecture on Monday.