Detail Turns 60

John Hill
7. January 2021
L-R: The first issue from 1961; the 50th anniversary issue from April 2011; a spread from a 1988 issue featuring Jean Nouvel's Arab World Institute; the cover of the most recent issue, Jan/Feb 2021 (All images via detail-online.com)

Munich's DETAIL magazine has published around 450 issues since its founding in 1961. It is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year with special peeks into its archive, multimedia feedback from readers, and a "big" anniversary issue in June.

About a dozen years ago, when I was a practicing architect, the answer to my wife's question, "What do you want for your birthday?," was easy: a subscription to DETAIL magazine. By then DETAIL was publishing an English edition, but before that, when I was a student in the 1990s, I had to make do with the German-language issues in the architecture library. No matter though, given how the buildings in each issue were documented so clearly and consistently through photographs and drawings — lots of drawings, from plans and sections to wall sections and details. 

DETAIL's combination of well-curated projects and technically thorough documentation has made the magazine appealing to architects in and beyond Germany for its long run. On the section of its website devoted to the 60th anniversary content, the magazine boasts of more than 50,000 subscribers and availability in 80 countries. DETAIL prints ten bilingual German/English issues annually, plus two Interiors issue (also German/English) and six DETAIL China issues (in Chinese/English). On top of those 18 issues are Edition DETAIL, "the publisher’s range of books ... directed at architects, specialist planners and architecture enthusiasts around the world."

With many architectural magazine's moving to strictly digital content, it's refreshing to see DETAIL still printing issues and books. Of course, the ability to do so is most likely buoyed by its other offerings, which include online articles, the subscription-based DETAIL Inspiration databank, which features more than 5,500 projects from nearly the entire history of the magazine, and the biennial DETAIL Prize, which will be awarded later this month. Congratulations to DETAIL on 60 years — and counting!

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