Longtime Architecture magazine writer and editor Deborah Dietsch has died at 68

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Deborah Dietsch, a pioneering writer and architecture critic who was editor-in-chief of Architecture Review in the 1990s, died on September 10 at the George Washington University Hospital in the District of Columbia following an operation. She was 68 years old.

According to a friend, John Walker, Dietsch suffered a back injury and had to undergo spinal surgery. “The operation went well, but she suffered from medical complications that she couldn’t overcome,” Walker said in an email shared with her friends.

“Deborah knew architecture and loved to write about good design,” Walker said in her post. “She loved mid-century architecture and she loved living in her ‘mod box’ among the trees of [northwest Washington, D. C.] She was a faithful friend and a loving sister and aunt. She will be missed.

A native of Washington and a graduate of Columbia University, Dietsch has written about architecture, art and design for more than 30 years, in books, magazines and newspaper articles. She also served on the Baltimore Design Review Board for several years and on the Architectural Selection Boards for government agencies and private homeowners.

As editor-in-chief of Architecture Review while based in Washington, DC, Dietsch played a key role in determining which buildings appeared on the cover in an era before the Internet, when architectural journals had more clout than today in influencing design. designers hired for plum orders.

His support has helped support the careers of many emerging architects whose work has been highlighted in the magazine, such as Walter Chatham and Mark McInturff.

“She was a hard-hitting writer,” said David Haresign of Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS. “She had a great impact on the profession.”

His coverage of a building he designed was “the first time I’ve published in a national magazine,” McInturff said.

Deborah Dietsch in Vienna in 2013 (Mark McInturff)

In 2013, McInturff said, Dietsch traveled to Vienna with him, his daughter Marissa, architect Elizabeth Emerson and his architecture students at the Catholic University of America.

“I remember how awesome she was and how much she loved to travel and see architecture,” he said. “His energy and curiosity were limitless, as was his knowledge of his field. “

Dietsch has also helped fuel the national conversation on design by publishing a series of themed issues focusing on different types of buildings and topics, from “green architecture” to children’s museums. In these thematic issues, all of the “design well” articles related to the chosen theme and represented the best contemporary work that she and her team could find.

She also helped shed light on design topics that she felt deserved more attention, such as Googie architecture. She championed the US General Services Administration’s Design Excellence Program and trained talented writers such as Reed Kroloff, Ned Cramer, and Raul Barreneche.

After leaving Architecture Review, Dietsch returned to Washington and wrote for various publications, including Home & Design Magazine, The Washington Post, and Washington Examiner. At the time of her death, she was writing a column called “Design Perspectives” for Washington Business Journal.

His books include Architecture for Dummies; Classic Modern, and Living / Working: working at home, living at work. She has focused on particular businesses in books such as About the place: Architecture, Planning and Preservation of Goody Clancy and The architecture of the Washington Convention Center.

Walker wrote in his email that he and other Dietsch friends were planning a memorial service, most likely via Zoom, for later in the year. A date has not yet been announced.


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