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Monday, June 14, 2010

Book Review: Architecture Crossword Puzzles

Architecture Crossword Puzzles: Volume 1
Museum Masterworks, 2010
Paperback, 28 pages

At the AIA Convention last week I visited the well-stocked temporary bookstore, but being in a stingy mood I only spent four dollars on a book of crosswords, something to do in down time between sessions, the expo and other happenings. That down time didn't end up existing, but finally cracking the stapled binding of the impulse buy a couple days later I realized it probably wouldn't have done me much good. For an architect the crosswords are simple; all 12 puzzles could easily be completed in an hour. In and of itself simplicity would not be a reason to harshly criticize this book of puzzles, but unfortunately it does not go beyond any good intentions that may have instigated it. Not only are the puzzles easy for architects, many clues actually include the answer in their wordings, making it easy for all. The cover makes it appear that the crosswords are full-blown ones, a la the New York Times, but instead they are bare bones with little overlap between across and down, like the cover of another book of architecture crosswords by Webster's. Further, in many cases the answer is the least important part of the clue ("Tadao Ando won the Pritzker _____ in 1995"), some answers repeat throughout the book (Frank Gehry's Guggenheim in Bilbao comes to mind), and some answers are questionable (Clue: "Bruce considered an icon of this movement" Answer: Art Deco). The biggest disappointment about the puzzles is the failure to make them vehicles for teaching people about architecture. Instead of insight either via the clues or expanding upon them in the adjacent images (most unexplained), we are treated to factoids for dropping at dinner parties, at best. This book of crosswords is a missed opportunity, and a four-dollar lesson for me.

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