The Language of Houses: How Buildings Speak to Us

Karen Sung (illus.). Delphinium. Aug. 2014. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781883285609. $24.95. SOC SCI
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.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

Get access to 8000+ annual reviews of books, ebooks, and more

As low as $13.50/month