MARGO ADLER: In a misty drizzle outside the Design Building in midtown Manhattan, designers, architects and even just people who build their dream house stood in line clutching portfolios of their work. Never before has Architectural Digest held an open audition.
Michael Marienthal, a photographer, renovated a triplex in Chicago that looks right out of a 1930s Hollywood movie. He flew down on a whim.
MICHAEL MARIENTHAL: I'm a gambler, I like throwing the dice. What the heck? I like the magazine.
ADLER: Standing under black umbrellas were two blonde, 28-year-old, identical twins both visibly pregnant.
Christina and Catherine McCabe run the McCabe and McCabe Design Company.
CHRISTINA MCCABE: We're a new business. And I think for us, it would be a tremendous amount of publicity and also just confirmation of our talents.
ADLER: Further down the line was Dr. Gary Swanson, who came all the way from Calgary in Canada. He's a doctor.
GARY SWANSON: I do radiology. I...
ADLER: What are you doing sitting on the designer line being judged by Architectural Digest?
SWANSON: Well, I built my own house and I'm proud of it. And it's personal pride that brings me here.
ADLER: Six judges sit inside the building on the 14th floor, everyone gets about five minutes for the judge, and the judges are the editors and art directors of the magazine. Dr. Swanson's house has high ceilings, wrought iron work everywhere, and views of the Calgary skyline. He's interviewed by Paige Rense, the editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest.
SWANSON: This is a house I built in Calgary up on the hill.
PAIGE RENSE: You designed this house?
RENSE: Did you work with a local architect, contractor, or...
SWANSON: No, I was the contractor.
RENSE: Oh. The entrance hall is a two-storey space, is that correct?
SWANSON: Yes, yes.
RENSE: It's beautifully done. This looks very good.
SWANSON: Thank you.
RENSE: You want to give up radiology?
SWANSON: No. I need to do radiology to pay for all of this.
ADLER: Meanwhile, the McCabe twins are showing the house they designed in East Hampton to the magazine's art director Jeff Nemeroff, who flips through the photographs.
JEFF NEMEROFF: It's clean. That it feels like the Hamptons, you know. It does. Very nice.
MCCABE: This is the kitchen that we blew out and really - yeah, wanted to make an open feeling.
ADLER: Semifinalists will be chosen in New York, in Houston, in South Florida, and in Southern California. Finalists will be featured in the magazine and the public can vote for their favorites. Back on the line, I walked up to Phil Kennedy-Grant, an architect from New Jersey, and asked who he thinks besides his fellow professionals, reads Architectural Digest.
PHIL KENNEDY: Nobody reads it. They all look at the pictures.
(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)
ADLER: Whenever I look at Architectural Digest, I look at it and I say, all these places don't look like anything lives there.
ADLER: You know?
KENNEDY: That's correct. I couldn't live in any of those, you know. One thing out of place, forget it.
ADLER: But whether or not you could listen them, people definitely want to look at them.
Margo Adler, NPR News, New York.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.