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Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Famous and Important Skyscrapersby Judith Dupre
Synopses & Reviews
Rising majestically above the hubbub of crowded cities or standing in stately solitude against a natural backdrop, skyscrapers captivate the eye, excite the imagination, and inspire awe and reverence. Wonders of artistic creativity and engineering ingenuity, of hard work and playful dreaming, they embody the best of our practical achievements and reflect our highest aspirations.
This magnificent tour presents a fascinating look at fifty of the greatest skyscrapers in the world. Breathtaking photographs capture details often missed by the naked eye; architectural drawings and pictures of works-in-progress take you behind the scenes and enrich your understanding of the efforts involved in erecting many of the buildings; facts-at-a-glance charts give you the vital statistics, including the location of the structure, its height, the primary architect, the date of completion, materials used, and information about its place in architectural history.
From a church built to the glory of God to monuments that symbolize national or civic pride, to buildings vaunting the material accomplishments of commercial enterprises, Skyscrapers reveals the full story behind the design and construction of each structure. You'll learn about the many social, political, and economic obstacles that delayed the construction of the serenely beautiful Washington Monument; travel to Paris for an intimate look at the Eiffel Tower, the graceful intricate web of prefabricated iron girders that was both touted as proof of French engineering superiority and protested as a threat to individual creative expression; and to Ulm, to behold the filigreed tower and incomparable interior of the great Gothic cathedral, an edifice made possible by the invention of the flying buttress, which freed walls from their load-bearing roles and allowed them to be pierced so that light could flood in.
You'll encounter such architectural pioneers as William Le Baron Jenney, who took advantage of new technologies like fireproofing, elevators, and electrical lights to create, in 1885, the Home Insurance Building in Chicago, generally acknowledged to be the first skyscraper; Daniel Burnham, who, inspired by the irregular building site, designed New York's Flatiron Building, a dramatic triangular structure that exuberantly mixes Gothic and Renaissance motifs; and Mies van der Rohe, whose elegant, monumental Segram Building epitomizes the ideals of the modernist movement.
From the ancient pyramids of Egypt to the extraordinary Chrysler Building in New York, an unparalleled melding of art and engineering, every civilization has expressed in buildings both sacred and secular the eternal quest to reach ever upward towards the sky. Skyscrapers invites you to enjoy the stunning works born of that quest.
Skyscrapers is a lavish and appropriately soaring celebration of the world's most spectacular buildings.
From the ancient Lighthouse at Alexandria to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, from the Empire State Building to the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the 50 buildings represented in this magnificent book leap off the page in words and more than 200 rich, duotone images. This unique volume includes facts-at-a-glance for each building, visual comparisons of heights, and quotes from a variety of architects and experts--all accompanying stunning full-page photos of each structure.
"An eye-popping shelf-scraper...an elevating experience." -Gene Shalit, "Today"
"Breathtaking. Magnificent. Unique. Very special. Exquisite. One-of-a-kind. Well researched. Beautifully designed." -Robert J. Bruss, Tribune Media Services
Breathtaking. Magnificent. Unique. Very Special. Exquisite. One-of-a-kind. Well researched. Beautifully designed. (Robert J. Bruss, Tribune Media Services)
"An eye-popping shelf-scraper...an elevating experience." (Gene Shalit, "Today")
"You may get vertigo looking at Skyscrapers..." (The New York Times)
Like towering divas, skyscrapers command the urban stage. They hold us enthralled, leaving us anticipating and half-fearing their next majestic manifestation. The roles played by the skyscraper and many: they are icons of cities, stars of movies, symbols of corporate power, and the place where many of us report to work every morning. Deemed both avatars and annihilators of civilized life, they have been praised as efficient space-savers and denounced as rapacious consumers of light and air. In short, the skyscraper's bold visual gestalt, one layered with multiple meanings, has become a complex metaphor for all that is good and bad about the twentieth century. (Judith Dupre, from the Foreword)
I think the interesting question is why does man want to build to the sky? What is there about the desire for domination, or to reach God, or for private pride - the Pyramids are an example of that, but the tall building is certainly another. Every civilization is touched by that desire... They all reached for a dominant height. The impulse may have been different, but that's a common feeling of must culture. (Philip Johnson, from the Introductory Interview)
Includes bibliographical references (p. 126) and index.
About the Author
Judith Dupre is the author of the very successful follow-up to Skyscrapers, Bridges, as well as several other illustrated books, a graphic novel about New York City, a Mayan folk tale, and a book on American Indian rock art. She studied architectural history at Brown University and Hunter College, and she lectures at museums and schools throughout the country.
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