Building Big

Building Big

by David Macaulay
     
 

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Why this shape and not that? Why steel instead of concrete or stone? Why put it here and not over there? These are the kinds of questions that David Macaulay asks himself when he observes an architectural wonder. These questions take him back to the basic process of design from which all structures begin, from the realization of a need for the structure to the

Overview

Why this shape and not that? Why steel instead of concrete or stone? Why put it here and not over there? These are the kinds of questions that David Macaulay asks himself when he observes an architectural wonder. These questions take him back to the basic process of design from which all structures begin, from the realization of a need for the structure to the struggles of the engineers and designers to map out and create the final construction.
As only he can, David Macaulay engages readers’ imaginations and gets them thinking about structures they see and use every day — bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes, and dams. In Building Big he focuses on the connections between the planning and design problems and the solutions that are finally reached. Whether a structure is imposing or inspiring, he shows us that common sense and logic play just as important a part in architecture as imagination and technology do. As always, Macaulay inspires readers of all ages to look at their world in a new way.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Sheer awe id likely to be readers' response to this nuts-and-bolts companion to the recent PBS series of the same name. . . . Building Big is an intoxicating, synergistic blend of good writing and better art." —School Library Journal, starred review School Library Journal, Starred

"If ever a book were destined to inspire a future generation of engineers and designers, it would be this volume." —Publishers Weekly, starred review Publishers Weekly, Starred

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Award

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Our Review
David Macaulay is fascinated by everything around him. Constantly curious about the buildings, bridges, and structures that fill this modern world, Macaulay has written and illustrated this spectacular book for inquisitive minds.

Building Big explains the basic premise behind the construction of a a new structure -- the logical need for a new piece of architecture, the details of the design,and the creative technology that plays a huge role in the process. Some readers may prejudge the subject of building as a male topic, or one that is possibly aimed only at middle graders. But Macaulay has written this book addressed to all readers of all ages. It's engaging and enlightening manner is instructional and intriguing, constantly allowing readers to observe and wonder on their own. What would we do without some of the architectural wonders that fill our lives? This book also makes a point of saying that common sense and style have just as much to do with building as do architecture and technology.

The book is written as a companion to the PBS series Building Big.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
If ever a book were destined to inspire a future generation of engineers and designers, it would be this volume, a companion to the PBS series of the same name. From Istanbul to New York City, San Francisco to the Firth of Forth, Macaulay circles the globe and spans the centuries to provide a fascinating peek at the inner workings of bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes and dams, each arranged by section with a brief overview. As he delves into the history as well as the mechanics of each project--an all-star lineup of engineering icons that includes the Pantheon, Hoover Dam, the Channel Tunnel and the Chrysler Building Macaulay is in his element, nimbly deploying his gift for making the arcane accessible. For instance, he describes Brunel's shield, a tedious but successful tunnel-boring aid used under the Thames in the early 19th century, as "a bit like a platoon of creaking Star Wars robots leaning against each other for support as they inch their way nervously through the muck." Macaulay constructs the volume as thoughtfully as an engineer, explaining in his opening note on bridges, "They are in a sense three-dimensional diagrams of the work they do, and this makes them ideal subjects with which to begin." Each section connects to the next with intelligence and humor (e.g., his opening to the tunnels section: "While bridges, skyscrapers, domes and even a few dams enjoy varying amounts of popularity, I think it's fairly safe to say that only an engineer could love a tunnel"). His trademark cutaway views and diagrams also illuminate and instruct as they illustrate. Readers will not only enjoy an intimate look at specific structures, but ultimately come away with a broad overview of how modern engineering evolved. Macaulay fosters in readers a keen appreciation for the role of logic, imagination and perseverance in vaulting over impediments and bringing a project to completion. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
This companion to the PBS series of the same name offers a fascinating peek at the inner workings of bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes and dams. In a starred review, PW wrote, "If ever a book were destined to inspire a future generation of engineers and designers, it would be this volume." All ages. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This book is the companion to the PBS series "Building Big." It explores many questions: why here and not there? Why this shape and not that? Why steel instead of concrete or stone? Which construction techniques? Large projects of the modern world are engineered projects, the result of much planning and calculation. In many cases they are also the result of such great physical effort that large construction machines were required. Many of these projects also depended upon clever processes or techniques that were conceived specifically for the project. Examples range from the pre-analytical era of civil engineering (Roman bridges) to the Computer-Aided Design "CAD" era (Petronas Towers and Commerzbank Frankfurt). "Building Big" captures all of this and more. Well illustrated and engagingly written, it's a great gift idea for any inquiring older child. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, $30.00. Ages 10 to 12. Reviewer: M. Henebry SOURCE: Parent Council Volume 8
Children's Literature
If you watched the PBS series of the same name, then this book will bring all of those glorious structures back to enjoy again. If you didn't, then this book will probably encourage readers to watch it the next time around. The book and the films feature bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, domes and dams--some of the biggest structures created by humans. Macaulay is fascinated by basic engineering and design questions and why certain materials are chosen over others. Readers will come away with a real appreciation of the engineering and architectural challenges, as well as a basic knowledge of why certain shapes and materials work in bridges, tunnels or skyscrapers. Pen and ink and watercolor sketches show the way certain structures were built and how they function, for example, the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Marvelous descriptions are included of the construction of the piers, how the cables were put in place and the difficulty of designing to control the movement of the roadway in various weather conditions. A surprising fact for many is that this famous bridge is no longer the longest in the world--that honor goes to the Akashi Kaikyo bridge in Japan. Macaulay's book will appeal to kids and adults and is one that can be read in segments, which can be savored and then revisited. If you know anyone with an interest in architecture or structural engineering, this book would make a wonderful gift. 2000, Houghton,
VOYA
Anyone who has ventured into Boston during the past dozen years or so knows that getting around the city is no picnic. Traffic is horrendous. In an attempt to rectify the situation, a mammoth highway project involving replacing the old elevated expressway with a series of tunnels has begun. The complex and increasingly costly project is known locally as the Big Dig. In six illuminating pages of text and illustration, the author, in his inimitable style, describes what actually is being built in subterranean Beantown as well as in many other major construction undertakings throughout time. Macaulay's forte is breaking down daunting engineering problems into clear, concise words and images that readers of any age can appreciate. Five types of structures—bridges, tunnels, dams, domes, and skyscrapers—are analyzed in this fascinating book that is a companion to the PBS series of the same name. Other specific examples range from the humble Ponte Fabricio bridge (62 B.C.) to St. Peter's Basilica (1505-1590), the Hoover Dam (1931-1936), and the Sears Tower (1974). In each case, one is left with the understanding that any architectural accomplishment is the result of a logical sequence of events. This book represents a remarkable achievement, and as such, is a highly recommended purchase. Glossary. Illus. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Houghton Mifflin, 192p, Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Kevin Beach SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up-Sheer awe is likely to be readers' response to this nuts-and-bolts companion to the recent PBS series of the same name. Building Big focuses on the connections between the planning and design problems presented by ambitious construction proj-ects, and their solutions. Highlighting some, but not all, of the same examples from the TV series, the book covers bridges, tunnels, dams, domes, and skyscrapers, with 4 to 10 sites provided for each from around the world. Structures range from the old (Rome's Ponte Fabricio and Pantheon) to the new (Boston's Big Dig, Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers). The compelling narrative is accessible to even the most engineering challenged. Readers learn that bridges "willingly reveal important things about why and how they were built," whereas tunnels are "painfully shy cousins." Carefully labeled color sketches, maps, diagrams, sections, and plans (all rendered in a limited palette of muted earth tones) abound in numerous single and double-page spreads and dovetail neatly with text. A precise table of contents mitigates the lack of an index. Building Big is an intoxicating, synergistic blend of good writing and better art that distills the complexities of "big" construction.-Mary Ann Carcich, Suffolk County Community College Library, Riverhead, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
J.D. Biersdorfer
With Building Big, Macaulay has created a wonderful book for the real bridge-and-tunnel crowd -- and for those who also appreciate the engineering ingenuity that went into constructing some of the world's most outstanding skyscrapers, dams and domes. The book is the free-standing companion to the PBS television series of the same name broadcast in October...Building Big is visually appealing all around. Instead of segregating text and images into separate parts of the page, textbook style, Macaulay combines them into an integrated whole that entertains the eye from page to page with his creative interplay of the elements. Human beings have created some highly ambitious works, using evolving technologies and new materials, and Macaulay has a knack for putting them into perspective in a variety of ways.
New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780395963319
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
10/28/2000
Edition description:
Companion to the PBS Series
Pages:
192
Product dimensions:
9.13(w) x 10.88(h) x (d)
Lexile:
1260L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

David Macaulay is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books have sold millions of copies in the United States alone, and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. Macaulay has garnered numerous awards including the Caldecott Medal and Honor Awards, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Christopher Award, an American Institute of Architects Medal, and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award. In 2006, he was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, given 'to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.' Superb design, magnificent illustrations, and clearly presented information distinguish all of his books. David Macaulay lives with his family in Vermont.

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