Mr. McDermott left Cahners, Newton, Mass., last April and said he pursued several acquisitions in the publishing industry before deciding to accept the post.
At the architects' association, he will succeed Jim Kramer, who is leaving to take an academic job. The appointment takes effect in March or April.
Mr. McDermott said the new job will let him "use a lot of skills from marketing and publishing." While at Cahners, he oversaw the association's magazine, Architecture, until it was sold several years ago to BPI Communications, New York.