Traditional Building's Biggest Hits of 2016

A review of some of the most popular stories in 2016.
By Martha McDonald ,

The abandoned 1924 Hotel Syracuse was saved and is now thriving as the Marriott Syracuse Downtown.

The numbers are in for the year and for our new website that was launched in March, 2016, and our readers have shown us what most interested them. Using Google Analytics and our own tools, we examined which products, features, bloggers and opinions received the most hits and clicks during the year. So here we go – a look back at some of the highlights of 2016.

Christine Franck was awarded the Clem Labine Award. The story appeared in the August issue.

To review the year in print (which then made it to the website), it started with the Annual Buyers Guide in February and a feature that interviewed prominent classical architects and designers. In April, the cover story was about how preservation is helping revive Detroit, and, as usual, the June issue featured the Palladio Award winners.

August offered the Clem Labine Award winner, Christine Franck, along with a number of recent projects on commercial interiors. Institutional architecture was highlighted in the October issue, along with a profile of a groundbreaking engineering firm, Silman, and a feature showing how food (restaurants) and preservation can work together. And finally, our December issue on religious buildings reported on the repairs on the Washington National Cathedral after an earthquake and featured the new Mormon Temple in Philadelphia.

A feature on revitalizing Detroit with preservation was a big hit with readers last year.

While our statistics found that readers most often went to the Buying Guides and The Magazine tabs on the website, they often focused on particular features. One that garnered quite a bit of interest was “Preserving Detroit’s Future,” in the April issue, written by our contributor Nancy A. Ruhling.

She interviewed a number of architects and developers who showed that preservation is playing a significant role in contributing to the city’s revival. Her story listed 11 buildings that have been saved and another 7 that are in progress. And who knows—those numbers could have increased since then.

Clem Labine’s feature in the April 2015 issue and his blogs on rebuilding Penn Station were very popular.

Also high on the hit list was the Opinion tab, specifically those opinions expressed by Clem Labine, founder and editor emeritus of Traditional Building. His most recent Forum in the December issue focused on the history and importance of the Palladio Awards. He is also well known as a promoter of the idea of rebuilding Penn Station. Although it was printed in the April issue in 2015, his feature on that subject continues to draw interest and support, as do his blogs, “To Transform Penn Station, Madison Square Garden Must Move!” and “Powerful New Backing for Rebuild Penn Station.” These and others are on our website.

Another feature that drew reader interest was the recent project story on the restoration of the Hotel Syracuse in the August issue. It shows how a Syracuse native, Ed Riley, saved a historic 1934 hotel.

A small retail space was renovated into the Academy of Classical Design in Southern Pines, NC.

Readers also often clicked on a feature by D. Jeffrey Mims, the founder of The Academy in Southern Pines, NC, who described how his academy renovated a small, simple space into classical academy.

One of the most popular features was about how to preserve wood windows written by John Leeke for the August issue.

One of the technical articles that garnered quite a few hits was “Historic Window Repair: Sash Joint Dutchman,” written by John Leeke and published in the August issue. He gives a detailed, step-by-step process for repairing historic wood windows, along with a list of resources, including books and websites. A longtime historic consultant, Leeke is the author of many articles on this subject and of books such as Save America’s Windows.

Metal windows also garnered quite a few hits last year, with the article by Gordon Bock in the October issue in 2015. “Making Sense of Metal Windows in Historic Buildings” discusses the role of steel and aluminum windows.

A blacksmith provided guidelines for specifying architectural ironwork.

Another technical hit was the article on architectural ironwork published in the June issue. “Guidelines for Specifying Architectural Ironwork,” was written by Robert Walsh, a blacksmith who has been hand forging architectural metalwork for 25 years.

The Immanuel Chapel in Alexandria, VA, was one of six Palladio winners last year.

The Palladio Awards continue to draw interest from our readers. As usual these are published in the June issue and 2016 was the 15th year for the awards program. It was launched in 2002 by Clem Labine. The 2016 winners included (1) HBRA Architects for the restoration of the West Entry of the Charles Deering Library at Northwestern University; (2) Schooley Caldwell Associates for the adaptive reuse of Cristo Rey Columbus High School; (3) Glavé & Holmes Architecture for the design of Christopher Newport Hall, Christopher Hall University; (4) Robert A.M. Stern Architects for the design of Immanuel Chapel at Virginia Theological Seminary; (5) Architectural Resources Group for the design of the Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center at The Huntington Library; and (6) Historic Doors for the Chara Aurora Cooper Haas Pipe Organ Façade, Bryn Athyn Cathedral.

A feature mentioned earlier, “Paths to Traditional Architecture,” in the February issue, was high on our hit list last year. It was written by Paul A. Ranogajec, who interviewed a number of noted traditional architects and artisans to discover how they had learned their art.

A feature about how restaurants and preservation can work together to save neighborhoods appeared in the October issue.

Two other features, one on preserving historic gardens in the April issue, and another, “Where Food and Preservation Meet,” by Jenn Larsen, in the October issue also made the most popular list.

Written by Vincent Michael, a blog on house museums drew quite a bit of attention.


One of the blogs that received quite a bit of attention and a number of comments was “The Problem of the House Museum,” by Vincent Michael. He showed how difficult it is for these museums to support themselves.

In addition, the blogs on plaster by Patrick Webb were high on the digital hit parade. “Natural Hydraulic Limes: A Plaster in a League of its Own,” “the Role of Aggregates and Fiber in Plaster,” and "The Pragmatism of Craft,” were of particular interest to our readers.

Peter Miller’s opinions also drew a crowd. His most recent blog, “The State of Things: January 2017,” analyzes the outlook for the industry as we go forward. “Restoration at the National Cathedral” was also a hit.

Metalwork such as this traditionally styled railing fabricated by King Architectural Metals were often featured.


As always, product information is one of the highlights of the magazine and the website. Not surprisingly, Division 4 (Doors, Window, Shutters) was at the top of the hit parade. And the section here that got the most hits was door hardware. Next in line were interior lighting, exterior lighting and wood windows.

Historic hardware products such as this ornate door handle and matching escutcheon from E.R. Butler appeared often last year.

Another popular category was exterior elements, followed by the Division 10 category, lighting. Cornice and Cornice moldings and hardware in general were also among the top 10 categories cited by our readers.

Division 12, metalwork, and Division 1, artwork/art glass/furnishings and columns also received reader notice, as did window hardware and cabinet/furniture hardware. Interior elements, ornamental metalwork and Division 2, columns and capitals, roofing specialties and art glass were also important. Many other products and categories such as woodwork, fences and gates, landscape specialties and stairs and railings also received reader interest in 2016 as the Buying Guides continue to be one of the most important parts of the magazine and website.

These are just a few of the highlights from Traditional Building magazine in 2016. We are most grateful to all of the writers who contributed features, technical articles, book reviews and Forums, and to our cast of bloggers on the website.

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