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How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit

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How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An essential toolkit for understanding architecture as both art form and the setting for our everyday lives

We spend most of our days and nights in buildings, living and working and sometimes playing. Architecture is both the setting for our everyday lives and a public art form—but it remains mysterious to most of us.

     In How Architecture Works, Witold Rybczynski, one of our best, most stylish critics and the winner of the Vincent Scully Prize for his writing on architecture, answers our most fundamental questions about how good—and not so good—buildings are designed and constructed. Introducing the reader to the rich and varied world of modern architecture, he reveals how architects as diverse as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Robert A. M. Stern envision and create their designs. He teaches us how to “read” plans, how buildings respond to their settings, and how the smallest detail—of a stair balustrade, for instance—can convey an architects vision. How Architecture Works explains the central elements that make up good building design, ranging from a war memorial in London to an opera house in Saint Petersburg, from the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to a famous architects private retreat in Princeton, New Jersey. It is an enlightening humanists toolkit for thinking about the built environment and seeing it afresh.

     “Architecture, if it is any good, speaks to all of us,” Rybczynski writes. This revelatory book is his grand tour of architecture today.

Review:

"Prize-winning architectural writer and University of Pennsylvania emeritus professor Rybczynski (A Clearing in the Distance) follows in the spirit of Steen Eiler Rasmussen's classic Experiencing Architecture to supply an ideal layperson's handbook on the fundamentals of modern and contemporary architecture. Focusing on the functional and aesthetic considerations that define a building, and often calling upon his experience as an architect to illustrate major concepts, Rybczynski vividly explains particulars such as how to read architectural plans and how sunlight figures into designs, as well as discussing issues of style, history, and taste. While the book tends to address structure after structure at a speedy clip, the upshot is a commanding view of the field for beginners. An especially rich example is the walk-through of several designs submitted to the competition for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture: this not only illustrates how different architects respond to constraints, but also how such competitions function. Rybczynski is not a polemicist, but he effectively argues certain basic principles, and makes a cogent analogy to typography to show how the past always influences the present. Here, architecture is treated as craft executed with prudence and conviction. The author doesn't care much for theories, or buildings that fail to be practical, but welcomes 'a variety of design approaches,' all of which make him a model teacher. 140 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

An essential toolkit for understanding architecture as both art form and the setting for our everyday lives

Modern architecture runs the gamut from fantasy to engineering to retro. In How Architecture Works, Witold Rybczynski, whom Library Journal called “one of our most original, accessible, and stimulating writers on architecture,” introduces the reader to the rich and varied world of contemporary design. Taking us behind the scenes, he reveals how architects as different as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Robert A. M. Stern work their magic.

     How Architecture Works moves effortlessly from a war memorial in London to an opera house in St. Petersburg, and from Alice Waltons museum in Arkansas to a famous architects private retreat in downtown Princeton. In the process, we learn how to “read” plans, how buildings respond to their settings, and how even a detail of a stair balustrade can convey an architects intentions.

     Rybczynski, who was awarded the Vincent Scully Prize for his architectural writing, takes us on a voyage of discovery and offers a humanists toolkit for understanding our built environment and seeing it afresh. “Architecture, if it is any good, speaks to all of us,” he writes. This provocative book is his summa on architecture today.

About the Author

Witold Rybczynski has written about architecture for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and Slate. Among his award-winning books are Home, The Most Beautiful House in the World, and A Clearing in the Distance, which won the J. Anthony Lukas Prize. He lives with his wife in Philadelphia, where he is the emeritus professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. How Architecture Works is his eighteenth book.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS
 
Introduction
 
1. Ideas
2. The Setting
3. Site
4. Plan
5. Structure
6. Skin
7. Details
8. Style
9. The Past
10. Taste
 
Glossary
Notes on Sources
Acknowledgements
Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374211745
Author:
Rybczynski, Witold
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Subject:
Criticism
Subject:
History - Contemporary (1945- )
Subject:
ARCHITECTURE / Reference
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20131031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
140 Black-and-White Illustrations/Glossa
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » History » Contemporary (1945-)
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Reference
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Theory
Featured Titles » Culture

How Architecture Works: A Humanist's Toolkit New Hardcover
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$27.00 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374211745 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Prize-winning architectural writer and University of Pennsylvania emeritus professor Rybczynski (A Clearing in the Distance) follows in the spirit of Steen Eiler Rasmussen's classic Experiencing Architecture to supply an ideal layperson's handbook on the fundamentals of modern and contemporary architecture. Focusing on the functional and aesthetic considerations that define a building, and often calling upon his experience as an architect to illustrate major concepts, Rybczynski vividly explains particulars such as how to read architectural plans and how sunlight figures into designs, as well as discussing issues of style, history, and taste. While the book tends to address structure after structure at a speedy clip, the upshot is a commanding view of the field for beginners. An especially rich example is the walk-through of several designs submitted to the competition for the National Museum of African-American History and Culture: this not only illustrates how different architects respond to constraints, but also how such competitions function. Rybczynski is not a polemicist, but he effectively argues certain basic principles, and makes a cogent analogy to typography to show how the past always influences the present. Here, architecture is treated as craft executed with prudence and conviction. The author doesn't care much for theories, or buildings that fail to be practical, but welcomes 'a variety of design approaches,' all of which make him a model teacher. 140 b&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,

An essential toolkit for understanding architecture as both art form and the setting for our everyday lives

Modern architecture runs the gamut from fantasy to engineering to retro. In How Architecture Works, Witold Rybczynski, whom Library Journal called “one of our most original, accessible, and stimulating writers on architecture,” introduces the reader to the rich and varied world of contemporary design. Taking us behind the scenes, he reveals how architects as different as Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, and Robert A. M. Stern work their magic.

     How Architecture Works moves effortlessly from a war memorial in London to an opera house in St. Petersburg, and from Alice Waltons museum in Arkansas to a famous architects private retreat in downtown Princeton. In the process, we learn how to “read” plans, how buildings respond to their settings, and how even a detail of a stair balustrade can convey an architects intentions.

     Rybczynski, who was awarded the Vincent Scully Prize for his architectural writing, takes us on a voyage of discovery and offers a humanists toolkit for understanding our built environment and seeing it afresh. “Architecture, if it is any good, speaks to all of us,” he writes. This provocative book is his summa on architecture today.

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