William Menking, 1947-2020

John Hill
12. April 2020
Menking leading a tour of the exhibition "The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century" he co-curated at the Austrian Cultural Forum New York in 2013 (Photo: Storefront for Art and Architecture/Flickr)

William Menking, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Architect's Newspaper, died on Saturday, April 11, at his home in Tribeca after a long bout with cancer. He was 72.

Bill Menking is referred to as "a legend" by Hans Ulrich Obrist in the obituary at The Architect's Newspaper. While he was certainly a legend in architectural circles and in New York City, where he lived and where The Architect's Newspaper is based, Bill was approachable and always willing to help. He invited me to the paper's office when I moved to NYC in 2006 and over the years I was lucky enough to contribute book reviews and other stories to what is certainly one of the most important print publications on architecture.

Menking co-founded The Architect's Newspaper with his wife, Diana Darling, in NYC in 2003. In the seventeen years since, the paper has grown beyond its East Coast origins to cover architecture news in five U.S. regions and with international coverage. Bill was a friend of World-Architects, with The Architect's Newspaper serving as a media partner for many years and contributing Building of the Week reviews in the early years of that feature on our U.S. platforms.

Hans Demarmels, co-founder of PSA Publishers/World-Architects, and a good friend of Bill's, said this: "Bill was one of our early supporters and strongly influenced us with his vision, his openness and his approach as an editor. We spent unforgettable moments together at architecture events all around the world. He introduced us to so many interesting people and shared his passion for great food. Bill will be missed."

Bill Menking (right) with Hans Demarmels (left) and Margery Perlmutter at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012 (Photo courtesy of Hans Demarmels)

In addition to his editorial duties at The Architect's Newspaper, Bill also wrote books and curated exhibitions. One of the former is Architecture on Display, an indispensable history of the Venice Architecture Biennale, in which he and Aaron Levy interviewed past curators, from Vittorio Gregotti to Kazuyo Sejima. That book, published in 2010, came out of Menking curating the U.S. Pavilion at the 2008 Biennale, titled Into the Open: Positioning Practice

Bill was a staple at the Biennale during the vernissage, be it walking the Giardini or Arsenale and speaking to every architect who walked by — Bill knew everybody — or sipping Aperol Spritz at Ristorante Paradiso outside the Biennale's gates. Per The Architect's Newspaper obituary, "he literally attended every Venice Architecture Biennale since it started in 1980." It will be strange when this year's Biennale finally does open to not have Bill in attendance.

William Menking was born in Puerto Rico in 1947 and was raised in Stockton, California. He studied architecture and urban studies at University of California, Berkeley, during which he traveled to Florence, Italy, and met the members of Superstudio. Subsequently he mounted exhibitions on the avant-garde group and co-wrote Superstudio: Life Without Objects. Exhibitions and writings on the similarly radical collective Archigram followed. He was on the Board of Directors of the Storefront for Art and Architecture and The Architecture Lobby, and he was a tenured professor and trustee at Pratt Institute.

Bill is survived by his wife Diana and their daughter Halle.

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