First things first - this is a beautiful object, but as a fan of the hand drawing I do have a bit of a bias. It contains some of the most beautiful architectural drawings I have seen in a long time and has been impeccably put together. Insights from the contributors are generally very helpful in deciphering the complexity of some of them, but not always. Some definitely remain an enigma, and some more full page drawings would be nice in order to really get into what they're all about.
A great deal of care has been taken in constructing everything about it, and I suppose that comes from guest editor Neil Spiller's very graphic sensibility, but also his experience in editing AD (he must surely be one of the most featured guest editors in AD's history?!).
My criticism would be that it comes across slightly like a manifesto for the Architecture Department at the University of Greenwich, Spiller's own school. Members of the Greenwich staff turn up frequently within its pages to present the work they have been responsible for midwifing into the world. They are clearly doing some amazing things down there, but I can't help but feel that it comes across a little heavy-handedly. Not much of a criticism, but it's a thinly veiled advert for the school, which is fair enough, they need it - they have been getting a bit of a drubbing in the tables from what one can only assume is a difficult transitional period. I recommend this if you don't already collect the series, and if you do, you should look forward to what I consider a nice breath of fresh air in the increasingly CAD plastered pages of AD. Mild criticisms aside, it gets 5 stars for the shear beauty of it.
I chose to rate the product with 5 stars because this issue of Architectural Design gave me inspiration to keep developing my hand drawing skills in architecture and explore further ways of representation of architectural drawings. I am recommending it to other students, professionals and even to the general public because it is understandibly written, clear, concise and probably the best AD issue to date. It gives place to young talented architects so you will see a lot of diploma project drawings as well as works from world-renowed architects. Keep in mind it comes in A4 size and Royal Mail will leave a note if you are not there to receive it and sign.