Looking Around: A Journey through Architecture

Looking Around: A Journey through Architecture

by Witold Rybczynski
     
 

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From the opening sentences of his first book on architecture, Home, Witold Rybczynski seduced readers into a new appreciation of the spaces they live in. He also introduced us to "an unerringly lucid writer who knows how to translate architectural ideas into layman's terms" (The Dallas Morning News). Rybczynski's vast knowledge, his sense of wonder,

Overview

From the opening sentences of his first book on architecture, Home, Witold Rybczynski seduced readers into a new appreciation of the spaces they live in. He also introduced us to "an unerringly lucid writer who knows how to translate architectural ideas into layman's terms" (The Dallas Morning News). Rybczynski's vast knowledge, his sense of wonder, and his elegantly uncluttered prose shine on every page of his latest meditation on the art of building.

Looking Around is about architecture as an art of compromise—between beauty and function, aspiration and engineering, builders and clients. It is the story of the Seagram Building in New York and the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts in Columbus, Ohio—a museum that opened without a single painting on view, so that critics could better appreciate its design. But what of the visitors who want a building that displays art well? What of those who work in the building? Looking Around explores the notion of the architect as superstar and assesses giants from Palladio to Michael Graves, styles from classicism to high tech. It demonstrates how architecture actually works—or doesn't—in corporate headquarters, airports, private homes, and the special buildings designed to represent our civilization.

For all its erudition, Looking Around is also bracingly straightforward. Rybczynski looks closely and critically at structures that may once have dazzled us with their ostentation and expense, and sees them as triumphs or failures—of aesthetic ideals and of lasting function. This is a fascinating and illuminating book about an art form integral to our lives.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With catholic taste, McGill University professor of architecture Rybczynski admires Michael Graves's post-modernist Portland Building in Oregon, Swedish artist Carl Larsson's modified log cabin and the New York Public Library, ``built for the ages.'' Readers of his books Home and The Most Beautiful House in the World will enjoy this collection of previously published articles and essays. Rybczynski touts the advantages of smaller houses and links the revival of traditional house forms to a longing for the bourgeois ideals of stability and domesticity. With his usual grace, wit and lucidity, he writes about the quest for a regional California architectural style, about high tech as a ``mass-market fashion,'' about airports, about Palladio's 15th century Italian villas and about art museum design and suburban sprawl. In one essay he interprets the decade 1910-1919 as a period of disorientation that ushered in modernism. As for the 1990s, Rybczynski sees no end to the profession's self-indulgence, as architects shirk their responsibilities to community and society. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Rybczynski is an architectural critic whose interests and resulting essays roam far from the specific building(s) he is enjoying. These critiques employ a gentle, even relaxed prose that allows readers to share Rybczynski's aesthetic connections and his expansions on the role of building styles in our constructed world. The book contains 35 brief pieces divided into three sections: ``Homes and Houses,'' ``Special Places,'' and ``The Art of Building.'' Rybczynski takes us from the demise of the parlour (is the living room next?), to the Nixon Library, to the future of Chicago architecture. By wandering confidently through a broad anthropological as well as architectural landscape, the author is able to unite a wide range of design details into insightful analysis. This work is recommended for both academic and public libraries.-- David Bryant, Belleville P.L., N.J.
From the Publisher
"Informative and provocative, an excellent companion in plance, train, living room, kitchen, or porch"
—The Washington Post

"You only have to look around to see how thought-provoking these essays are."
—The New York Times

"His best work to date."
The Boston Sunday Globe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670844210
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
10/01/1992
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
20.00(w) x 20.00(h) x 20.00(d)

Meet the Author

Witold Rybczynski of Polish parentage, was born in Edinburgh in 1943, raised in Surrey, and attended Jesuit schools in England and Canada. He received Bachelor of Architecture (1960) and Master of Architecture (1972) degrees from McGill University in Montreal. He is the author of more than fifty articles and papers on the subject of housing, architecture, and technology, including the books Taming the Tiger, Paper Heroes, The Most Beautiful House in the World, Waiting for the Weekend, and Looking Around: A Journey Through Architecture (all available in Penguin), and most recently, City Life. He lives with his wife, Shirley Hallam, in Philadelphia and is the Martin and Margy Myerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.

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