FINE ARTS

The Story of Architecture

Yale Univ Nov. 2022. 360p. ISBN 9780300246063. $40. ARCHITECTURE
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In 39 chapters in six sections, architect Rybczynski (emeritus, urbanism, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Home: A Short History of an Idea) skillfully recounts the history of the western canon, with some reference to Asia and the Middle East, and a slight emphasis on the United States and Great Britain. Individual stories of selected buildings from ancient to 21st century illustrate key points and themes in architectural history. The chapters are short and do not read strictly as a textbook history; however, recurring topics are highlighted, innovations in materials or form are noted, and the discrete stories are often tied together through direct reactions and indirect references between and among the buildings and designers. Occasionally Rybczynski notes his personal reaction on first visiting a site, or an insight he gleaned over time. Although focused on the western canon, in the chapters on the 20th and 21st centuries, Rybczynski does not focus solely on Modernism. Examples of modern and contemporary traditional architecture in the United States and Great Britain, such as Henry Bacon’s Lincoln Memorial or Quinlan Terry’s Richmond Riverside, are included alongside chapters on works by Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, Louis Kahn, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. The “Additional Reading” is nearly an essay unto itself, with the author noting seminal or favorite books.
VERDICT An engaging and readable account of the history of the western architectural canon.
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