Book Briefs #3

"Book Briefs" are an ongoing series of posts with two- or three-sentence first-hand descriptions of some of the numerous books that make their way into my library. These briefs are not full-blown reviews, but they are a way to share more books worthy of attention than can find their way into reviews on my daily or weekly pages.

1: Morris Lapidus: The Architecture of Joy by Deborah Desilets | Rizzoli | 2010 | Amazon
While the architecture of Morris Lapidus was not appreciated by contemporaries, a growing appreciation for his work has occurred in the last couple of decades. He is best known for the curving balconies of a number of hotels in Miami Beach, which are collected here in coffee-table-book style in large color and black-and-white photographs. Most of the book is just that, photos of a small number of Lapidus's many buildings, with appreciative text coming at the back of the book.

2: Guastavino Vaulting: The Art of Structural Tile by John Ochsendorf | Princeton Architectural Press | 2010 | Amazon
Grand Central Terminal's Whispering Gallery, and the Oyster Bar Restaurant which it fronts, are popular yet hidden destinations for tourists. The auditory and spatial qualities of each can be attributed to the Rafael Guastavino family, who "oversaw the construction of thousands of spectacular thin-tile vaults across the United States between the 1880s and 1950s." Many are in New York City, and they and others are highlighted in this history of the family's techniques and art that created such memorable and long-lasting spaces.

3: Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty | Princeton Architectural Press | 2010 | Amazon
I first became familiar with artist Patrick Dougherty with another PAPress title, Natural Architecture by Alessandro Rocca; one of his "stickworks" actually graces the cover of that book. Here his amazing outdoor and gallery installations fill a whole book. His stickworks resemble oversized bird nests, manipulated into unnatural yet organic shapes and containers that one can step inside. I've yet to experience once of Dougherty's installations in person, but seeing the body of work in these pages makes me hope that day comes soon...and this will be my best bet.

4: Beyond 3: Trends and Fads edited by Pedro Gadanho | SUN Architecture | 2010 | Amazon
The third volume of the "bookazine dedicated to urban fiction and experimental architectural writing" continues in the vein of the first two, asking writers to respond to a theme. Trends and fads are addressed in a long reprinted essay on fashion by Georg Simmel and new contributions by Kieran Long, Jimenez Lai, Mockitecture, and Oren Safdie. The last is part of The Bilbao Effect, a play that puts "starchitecture" on trial. Commentary on buildings by famous architects is found in other places here, among numerous other diverse contributions.

5: Sustainable School Architecture: Design for Elementary and Secondary Schools by Lisa Gelfand with Eric Corey Freed | Wiley | 2010 | Amazon
Sustainable architecture is becoming a given on just about any project, but it is particularly important in primary and secondary schools, where a design's eco-responsibility can be a strong influence on the students. This title in Wiley's Sustainable Design series discusses the various steps in a project, from planning to occupation. Chapters focusing on the various parts of a project -- planning, design, daylighting, structures, HVAC, landscaping, furnishings, cost and bidding, construction, operations, maintenance -- lay out various considerations, strategies, and case studies, geared towards giving architects the tools and thinking for creating responsive green schools, whatever the circumstances may be.

6: Human Settlements edited by Kelly Shannon | SUN Architecture | 2010 | Amazon
According to the United Nations, "Human settlements means the totality of the human community - whether city, town or village - with all the social, material, organizational, spiritual and cultural elements that sustain it. The fabric of human settlements consists of physical elements and services to which these elements provide the material support." This book looks at the evolution of the discipline of human settlements, especially in reference to urbanism, since the 1970s. The canvas is broad, global (Pakistan, Vietnam, India, Peru, Brazil, etc.), and aided by numerous illustrations of various case studies.


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