SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Language of Houses: How Buildings Speak to Us

Karen Sung (illus.). Delphinium. Aug. 2014. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781883285609. $24.95. SOC SCI
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Architecture can make a person feel many emotions including joy, awe, sadness, and foreboding. Lurie (English emerita, Cornell Univ.; The Language of Clothes) builds on this idea as she posits that architecture is a language that naturally conveys meaning to those who look upon a building. The author explores various types of buildings—houses of worship, prisons, offices, hotels, restaurants, schools, and shopping malls—and demonstrates how architectural choices influence how people feel and act within a structure. The bulk of the book covers residences, as in how these structures' size, building materials, decorations, and landscaping all play a role in how the building and its inhabitants are perceived. The material is highly readable and accessible and is most appropriate for casual readers as the author tends to generalize the psychological and social effects of architecture without the benefit of scholarly rigor. Additionally, Lurie is primarily concerned with architectural styles within the United States.
VERDICT For casual readers interested in learning about architecture in the United States.

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