Kristen Richards, 69, Dies; Reshaped Architecture Journalism Online

Kristen Richards, a former shampoo mannequin, Off Off Broadway actress and artwork gallery proprietor who within the early 2000s helped revolutionize the world of structure and design journalism with a scrappy web site known as ArchNewsNow, died on July 1 in Ridgewood, N.J. She was 69.

Her husband, George Yates, stated the trigger was lung most cancers.

Before ArchNewsNow, the world of architectural journalism was fractured and siloed, with just a few must-read critics and magazines towering over native and educational writers who toiled in near-anonymity.

Ms. Richards modified all that. ArchNewsNow, which she revealed a number of occasions per week each on-line and as an e mail e-newsletter, summarized dozens of articles from retailers giant and small, from magazines, newspapers, blogs and educational web sites, and offered them with a wry, knowledgeable tone that made her a must-read within the design world.

Unlike many individuals in her adopted area, Ms. Richards by no means took sides or sought to curry favor. She was unafraid of huge names and egos, and she or he was simply as prone to function a debut venture from a younger agency as to spotlight the most recent Frank Gehry masterpiece. Conservative diatribes received equal billing alongside postmodern manifestoes; high quality was her solely criterion.

“It became as prominent as any traditional publication,” Paul Goldberger, a former structure critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker, stated in a telephone interview. “She really did make it a big tent, which is unusual in a field defined, like so many, by tribal warfare.”

ArchNewsNow got here alongside at a important second. Even as newspapers and magazines had been letting go of employees critics and slicing again on design protection, a dynamic however diffuse era of digitally native writers and thinkers was rising, their work usually showing on obscure web sites and, more and more, through social media. ArchNewsNow made it potential to maintain up with them.

“It was an invaluable resource for writers,” stated William Morgan, an structure author in Providence, R.I. “It was like having your own research bureau.”

Ms. Richards was additionally for a few years the editor of Oculus, the journal of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, a job that allowed her primarily to provide ArchNewsNow for nothing. She not often ran advertisements, and she or he by no means charged her 16,000 subscribers — a lot of whom, she proudly identified, had been college students, usually in creating international locations the place, she believed, good design was integral to political and social progress.

“Perhaps what excites me most is when I see educators and students subscribe, particularly when they hail from a country such as Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka and other countries in conflict or under severe rule,” she stated in a 2012 interview. “It gives me hope — these students are our future.”

A summer time journey to Greece grew to become an almost four-year European sojourn after Ms. Richards discovered work as a mannequin. For a time she was the Greek equal of the Breck Girl, gracing shampoo advertisements in grocery circulars and on billboards.Credit…through George Yates

Kristen Fay Richards was born on Jan. 13, 1952, in New Paltz, N.Y., the daughter of Jay Turner, an itinerant people musician, and Fay Richards, a industrial artist. Her father left house earlier than she was born, and her mom traveled regularly, leaving Kristen within the care of her grandparents, who owned a dairy farm exterior New Paltz.

Along with Mr. Yates, she is survived by her stepdaughter, Patricia Hill. She lived in Chestnut Ridge, in rural Rockland County, N.Y., and died in a close-by hospital.

Ms. Richards attended Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the place she studied appearing. But she left after a 12 months, drawn to New York by its vibrant theater scene of the early 1970s. For three years she managed the Gene Frankel Theater and Film Workshop in Greenwich Village, and in 1974 she was a founding member of the Impossible Ragtime Theater. She acted with the troupe and ran its public relations.

A summer time journey to Greece grew to become an almost four-year European sojourn after Ms. Richards discovered work as a mannequin; for a time she was the Greek equal of the Breck Girl, gracing shampoo advertisements in grocery circulars and on billboards. She deliberate to return by way of Rome, however fell in love with Italy and ended staying for 3 years, first working as a disc jockey and later instructing English.

After returning to New York in 1980, she opened an artwork gallery and based an organization that offered artwork and design merchandise to company purchasers. Ms. Richards rode excessive on the 1980s Wall Street increase, however the 1987 inventory market crash and the recession just a few years later compelled her into chapter 11. She took a job operating particular initiatives for Interiors journal, the place her first endeavor was to supervise the renovation of Villa Aurelia, which the journal sponsored.

In 1999 she moved to a web-based journal, DesignArchitecture.com, the place she ran the journal’s day by day e mail e-newsletter. When the dot-com increase went bust, she determined to relaunch the e-newsletter on her personal. The first version of ArchNewsNow went up on Feb. 18, 2002.

Every weekday morning for the following twenty years, Ms. Richards rose early, brewed a powerful cup of espresso, greeted her two cats and sat down at her pc to learn by way of 200 or extra articles on structure, design, building and actual property, all of which had been culled by a program designed by Mr. Yates, a software program engineer.

Over the following six hours, Ms. Richards would decide about 20 objects, write brief summaries that teased out widespread themes and threads, and hit “publish.”

In 2008 she was made an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects; she acquired the identical award from the A.I.A. in 2011.

Ms. Richards was for a few years an editor of Oculus, the journal of the New York City chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

When she wasn’t writing or modifying, she may spend time in her backyard, or drive her manual-transmission BMW round upstate New York. But she was simply as prone to head into New York City to attend a lecture, a constructing opening or a hard-hat tour, or simply meander round, snapping images.

“She had a really open mind, and what could be better, as a journalist?” Jayne Merkel, an structure critic, stated in a telephone interview. “She felt warmly toward the architecture community and wanted to be its voice.”