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A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture

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A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Here at last: the fully expanded, updated, and freshly designed second edition of the most comprehensive and widely acclaimed guide to domestic architecture — in print since its publication in 1984, and acknowledged everywhere as the unmatched, essential reference to American houses.

Focusing on dwellings in urban and suburban neighborhoods and rural locations all across the continental United States — houses built over the past three hundred years reflecting every social and economic background — this guide provides in-depth information on the essentials of domestic architecture with facts and frames of reference that will enable you to look in a fresh way at the houses around you. With more than 1,600 detailed photographs and line illustrations, and a lucid, vastly informative text, it will teach you not only to recognize distinct architectural styles but also to understand their historical significance. What does that cornice signify? Or that porch? The shape of that door? The window treatment? When was this house built? What does the style say about its builders and their eras? You'll find the answers to these and myriad other questions in this encyclopedic and eminently practical book.

Here are more than fifty styles and their variants, spanning seven distinct historical periods. Each style is illustrated with a large schematic drawing that highlights its most important identifying features. Additional drawings and photographs provide, at a glance, common alternative shapes, principal subtypes, and close-up views of typical small details — windows, doors, cornices, etc. — that can be difficult to see in full-house illustrations. The accompanying text explains the identifying features of each style, describing where and in what quantity they can be found, discussing all of its notable variants, and tracing their origin and history.

The book's introductory chapters provide invaluable general discussions of construction materials and techniques, house shapes, and the various traditions of architectural fashion that have influenced American house design through the past three centuries. A pictorial key and glossary simplifies identification, connecting easily recognized architectural features — the presence of a tile roof, for example — to the styles in which that feature is likely to be found.

Among the new material included in this edition are chapters on styles that have emerged in the thirty years since the previous edition; a groundbreaking chapter on the development and evolution of American neighborhoods; an appendix on approaches to construction in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; an expanded bibliography; and 600 new photographs and line drawings throughout.

Here is an indispensable resource — both easy and pleasurable to use — for the house lover and the curious tourist, for the house buyer and the weekend stroller, for neighborhood preservation groups, architecture buffs, and everyone who wants to know more about their own homes and communities. It is an invaluable book of American architecture, culture, and history.

Synopsis:

For the house lover and the curious tourist, for the house buyer and the weekend stroller, for neighborhood preservation groups and for all who want to know more about their community — here, at last, is a book that makes it both easy and pleasurable to identify the various styles and periods of American domestic architecture.

Concentrating not on rare landmarks but on typical dwellings in ordinary neighborhoods all across the United States — houses built over the past three hundred years and lived in by Americans of every social and economic background — the book provides you with the facts (and frame of reference) that will enable you to look in a fresh way at the houses you constantly see around you. It tells you — and shows you in more than 1,200 illustrations — what you need to know in order to be able to recognize the several distinct architectural styles and to understand their historical significance. What does that cornice mean? Or that porch? That door? When was this house built? What does its style say about the people who built it? You'll find the answers to such questions here.

This is how the book works: Each of thirty-nine chapters focuses on a particular style (and its variants). Each begins with a large schematic drawing that highlights the style's most important identifying features. Additional drawings and photographs depict the most common shapes and the principal subtypes, allowing you to see at a glance a wide range of examples of each style. Still more drawings offer close-up views of typical small details — windows, doors, cornices, etc. — that might be difficult to see in full-house pictures. The accompanying text is rich in information about each style — describing in detail its identifying features, telling you where (and in what quantity) you're likely to find examples of it, discussing all of its notable variants, and revealing its origin and tracing its history.

In the book's introductory chapters you'll find invaluable general discussions of house-building materials and techniques ("Structure"), house shapes ("Form"), and the many traditions of architectural fashion ("Style") that have influenced American house design through the past three centuries. A pictorial key and glossary help lead you from simple, easily recognized architectural features — the presence of a tile roof, for example — to the styles in which that feature is likely to be found.

About the Author

Virginia Savage McAlester is a lifelong advocate of historical preservation with deep professional interests in architecture. She has an undergraduate degree from Harvard University, where she attended Radcliffe College and completed the first-year curriculum of the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is a founding member and past president of Preservation Dallas, and serves as an advisor emeritus for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is author of The Making of a Historic District: Swiss Avenue, Dallas, Texas and coauthor of The Homes of the Park Cities, Dallas: Great American Suburbs. She lives in Dallas, Texas, where she is an honorary member of the state and local chapters of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400043590
Subtitle:
The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture
Author:
McAlester, Virginia Savage
Author:
McAlester, Lee
Author:
McAlester, Virginia
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
Domestic
Subject:
Architecture-Houses
Publication Date:
20131203
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
880
Dimensions:
10.28 x 8.02 x 1.83 in 4.68 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » General
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » History » General
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Houses
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » Regional
Arts and Entertainment » Architecture » United States » General
Featured Titles » Culture
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » New Arrivals » Nonfiction

A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture New Hardcover
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Product details 880 pages Knopf - English 9781400043590 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , For the house lover and the curious tourist, for the house buyer and the weekend stroller, for neighborhood preservation groups and for all who want to know more about their community — here, at last, is a book that makes it both easy and pleasurable to identify the various styles and periods of American domestic architecture.

Concentrating not on rare landmarks but on typical dwellings in ordinary neighborhoods all across the United States — houses built over the past three hundred years and lived in by Americans of every social and economic background — the book provides you with the facts (and frame of reference) that will enable you to look in a fresh way at the houses you constantly see around you. It tells you — and shows you in more than 1,200 illustrations — what you need to know in order to be able to recognize the several distinct architectural styles and to understand their historical significance. What does that cornice mean? Or that porch? That door? When was this house built? What does its style say about the people who built it? You'll find the answers to such questions here.

This is how the book works: Each of thirty-nine chapters focuses on a particular style (and its variants). Each begins with a large schematic drawing that highlights the style's most important identifying features. Additional drawings and photographs depict the most common shapes and the principal subtypes, allowing you to see at a glance a wide range of examples of each style. Still more drawings offer close-up views of typical small details — windows, doors, cornices, etc. — that might be difficult to see in full-house pictures. The accompanying text is rich in information about each style — describing in detail its identifying features, telling you where (and in what quantity) you're likely to find examples of it, discussing all of its notable variants, and revealing its origin and tracing its history.

In the book's introductory chapters you'll find invaluable general discussions of house-building materials and techniques ("Structure"), house shapes ("Form"), and the many traditions of architectural fashion ("Style") that have influenced American house design through the past three centuries. A pictorial key and glossary help lead you from simple, easily recognized architectural features — the presence of a tile roof, for example — to the styles in which that feature is likely to be found.

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