Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure

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Reprint Good [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ] [ Edition: Reprint ] Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; University of Chicago Press Pbk. Ed. / edition Pub Date: 6/1/2008 Binding: ... Paperback Pages: 320. Read more Show Less

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Trade Paperback New Although airports are now best known for interminable waits at check-in counters, liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage, and humiliating shoe-removal ... rituals at security, they were once the backdrops for jet-setters who strutted, martinis in hand, through curvilinear terminals designed by Eero Saarinen. In the critically acclaimed 'Naked'' Airport, ' Alastair Gordon traces the cultural history of this defining institution from its origins in the muddy fields of flying machines to its frontline position in the struggle against international terrorism. From global politics to action movies to the daily commute, Gordon shows how the airport has changed our sense of time, distance, and style, and ultimately the way cities are built and business is done. He introduces the people who shaped and were shaped by this place of sudden transition: pilots like Charles Lindbergh, architects like Le Corbusier, and political figures like Fiorello LaGuardia and Adolf Hitler. 'Naked'' Airport' is a Read more Show Less

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Chicago, IL 2008 Trade paperback Good. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 305 p. Contains: Illustrations, black & white.

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2008 Paperback NEAR FINE 9780226304564 320pp., Paperback, This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. ... *****PLEASE NOTE: This item is shipping from an authorized seller in Europe. In the event that a return is necessary, you will be able to return your item within the US. To learn more about our European sellers and policies see the BookQuest FAQ section***** Read more Show Less

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Overview

 
Although airports are now best known for interminable waits at check-in counters, liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage, and humiliating shoe-removal rituals at security, they were once the backdrops for jet-setters who strutted, martinis in hand, through curvilinear terminals designed by Eero Saarinen. In the critically acclaimed Naked Airport, Alastair Gordon traces the cultural history of this defining institution from its origins in the muddy fields of flying machines to its frontline position in the struggle against international terrorism.
            From global politics to action movies to the daily commute, Gordon shows how the airport has changed our sense of time, distance, and style, and ultimately the way cities are built and business is done. He introduces the people who shaped and were shaped by this place of sudden transition: pilots like Charles Lindbergh, architects like Le Corbusier, and political figures like Fiorello LaGuardia and Adolf Hitler. Naked Airport is a profoundly original history of a long-neglected yet central component of modern life.
 
“This charming history documents why airports have always been such intriguing places. Gordon wittily deconstructs air terminal architecture. . . . Here is a book with more than enough quirky details to last a long layover.”—People
 
“[A] splendid cultural history.”—Atlantic Monthly
 
“Gordon, an architecture and design critic, tells his story well, bringing to life some of the main characters and highlighting some of the important issues concerning urbanism and airports.”—Michael Roth, San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Gordon provides a truly compelling account of how airports had over the course of three-quarters of a century become the locus of not only modern dreams but postmodern nightmares as well. Don’t leave home without it.”—Terence Riley, director of the Miami Art Museum
 

 
 

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Editorial Reviews

People
“This charming history documents why airports have always been such intriguing places. Gordon wittily deconstructs air terminal architecture. . . . Here is a book with more than enough quirky details to last a long layover.”
Time Out New York
“The genius of Naked Airport is its portrayal of how these way stations have changed from the muddy airfields of the 1920s to their heyday in the ‘60s and beyond. . . . In charting this evolution, Gordon has written the ideal book to bring with you on a long nonstop flight.”
Washington Post Book World - Jonathan Yardley
“[An] interesting, informative book.”
People
“This charming history documents why airports have always been such intriguing places. Gordon wittily deconstructs air terminal architecture. . . . Here is a book with more than enough quirky details to last a long layover.”
Atlantic Monthly
“[A] splendid cultural history.”
San Francisco Chronicle - Michael Roth
“Gordon, an architecture and design critic, tells his story well, bringing to life some of the main characters and highlighting some of the important issues concerning urbanism and airports.”
Terence Riley
“Gordon provides a truly compelling account of how airports had over the course of three-quarters of a century become the locus of not only modern dreams but postmodern nightmares as well. Don’t leave home without it.”
Daily Telegraph - Geoff Dyer
“Captivating and informative . . . can be warmly recommended, both for its richness of detail and Gordon’s easy command of architectural style.”
Guardian Review
“Gordon’s engaging history tells the story of how airports have changed—from the first muddy airfields transporting people into a new world of experience (the ‘20th-century version of sublime’), through their transformation into ‘symbols of progressive thinking and utopian planning,’ and their sad decline into ‘an allegory for all that was dehumanizing in modern life.’”
New Statesman
"Brilliant."
Booklist
"A sophisticated analysis [that will] attract many readers."
The Boston Globe
"An epic story."
John Berendt
"Naked Airport is as exhilarating as it is literate and informative."
Desert Morning News
"Splendid perspective…"—Desert Morning News

 

 

The New York Observer
"Alastair Gordon's breezy, engaging new book Naked Airport . . . ingeniously traces the development of airport architecture."
Independent (UK)
"Taxi-ing smoothly between architecture, planning and social history, Gordon explains how the soar-and-crash record of the airport as icon mirrors the rise and fall of technology-driven optimism."
Air & Space Magazine
"A richly illustrated and highly readable account of airport design as a social phenomenon."
Bookforum
"Naked Airport  racks up elite-status frequent-flier miles as it ranges across airports on every continent."
MSNBC
"Gordon's  prose is deft and witty. . . . Naked Airport  elegantly traces the development of air travel by positioning the airport as a metaphor for our relationship to history and the rest of the world, capturing both the excitement and the anxiety of modern flight."
Architecture Boston
"A fascinating and accessible survey of airport design."
Frame Magazine
"An important and engaging look at airports as typology."
The Architect's Newspaper
"Gordon's compelling narrative shows how architecture is bound up with the rest of the world in a way that architectural histories too rarely do."
Jonathan Tardley
The modern airport is a dreadful place in virtually every respect, and the one certainty is that it will only get worse. Gordon, who obviously likes airports despite themselves, ends his interesting, informative book on an upbeat note, but it's unlikely that he'd find agreement among any but the most privileged of travelers.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
To today's air passenger-patiently removing his or her shoes for the third time that day, swallowing overpriced fast food or slumping on chairs of sadistically molded plastic-the world of travel depicted in Gordon's lively history will feel like a vanished Golden Age. In six chapters and an epilogue, Gordon, contributing editor for House and Garden and Dwell and author of Weekend Utopia, traces the evolution of the airport from the muddy fields of the 1910s to the "sterile concourses" of the '70s with an eclectic range of reference and an eye for detail. By the late '20s, high rollers could tour the capitals of Europe in two luxurious weeks, sunseekers could take flying boats from Miami to Havana in two hours and airports-from Buffalo to Berlin's Tempelhof-reflected widely varied strains of an optimistic and triumphant modernism. Much of this history is contained in the details of abandoned projects, and Gordon's unearthing of such grand schemes as "Toledo Tomorrow" add immeasurably to his narrative. Smoothly blending cultural and aesthetic history, Gordon's book is also helped by its 108 well chosen b&w illustrations and attractive design. Though the term "airport book" has other connotations, reading Gordon's book might just restore a little of air travel's vanished glamour... until the next checkpoint. Agent, Kim Witherspoon at Witherspoon Associates. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Gordon (Beach Houses: Andrew Geller) chronicles the airport through its various mutations, illustrating how it was slowly transformed into a unique human environment and also how it changed the rest of the modern world. Beginning with Bourget as the confirmation of Lindbergh's 1927 solo transatlantic flight, the narrative includes the Croydon Aerodrome (London) as the conceptual progenitor of passenger circulation, Tempelhof as the symbol of Hitler's boastful Third Reich, Idelwild (now New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport) as the forerunner of decentralized air terminals, and a host of other airports. Gordon is at his best in characterizing those individuals who left their stamp on America's great aerial embarkation points, but he also examines the airport's impact on society, which he lists randomly as uneven grades of architecture and design, contrasting levels of rapid passenger mobility and screening bottlenecks, urban sprawl, gaudy decor and confusing signage, off-the-scale neighborhood noise and pollution levels, infuriating security measures, and air rage. Concluding with the airport's postmodern campaign against international terrorism, Gordon successfully maintains the delicate balance between his subject and the broader context of American aviation history. Recommended for architectural and aviation collections and all libraries. John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific shelter magazine writer chronicles the shifting architectural conceptions of an airport, from classical shrines to the dreams of Lindbergh and the Wrights to passenger-processing "tunnels to nowhere."Gordon's comprehensive survey necessarily includes much on the development of commercial aviation from its raw beginnings, making it clear that in the long run the municipalities and politicians juggling public funds have consistently underestimated the dynamic growth of the industry as well as the impact of aviation technologies on ground-based support facilities. Yet architects of the stature of Le Corbusier rose immediately to the challenges. As early airliners fell out of the sky with alarming regularity, airports initially took shape as soothing parlors that would transform the queasiness of nervous passengers into anticipation of a wonderful, mythic experience. In the era of transoceanic travel, airports like Berlin's Tempelhof or France's Le Bourget became a city's, or even a nation's, cultural statement to the world. Yet some planners saw them only mirrors of train stations. Gordon includes, and occasionally dwells overmuch on, a number of designs for airports that never came to fruition, more often from lack of public support than innate outlandishness (though the idea of runways extending and connecting across the tops of a city's skyscrapers does seem fanciful). Even successful early airports were crushed into core artifacts or destroyed outright by the demands of the jet age, but top-line architects like Pei and Van der Rohe responded with pleasingly functional concepts that anticipated the mass acceptance of worldwide travel. Eero Saarinen's TWA terminal at NewYork's Kennedy airport, called the "bird terminal" by admirers and detractors alike, was a soaring example. Slow development and inflexible plans were punished in the 1970s, when Atlanta's airport manager advised the mayor that his new airport was obsolete on the day it opened to the public. A hefty buff book. (108 b&w illustrations)
From the Publisher
"Alastair Gordon scrutinizes airports as a microcosm of twentieth-century America, and it's all there—the technology, the architecture, the politics, the business, and the genius and daring that it took to meet the challenge of an ever on-rushing future. Naked Airport is as exhilarating as it is literate and informative."

—John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Naked Airport vividly conjures up the primitive buildings and intrepid bravado of pioneering aviation, the alluring fantasies that surrounded early commercial flights, the advent of fashion with high-speed jet-travel in the 1960s, followed by the intrusion of cost-butting and surveillance that turned the dream into a nightmare later that same decade. Alastair Gordon's book reminds us that the experience of flying is conditioned, more than anything, by that of airports."

—Gwendolyn Wright, Building the Dream: A Social History of Housing in America

"Reading Alistair Gordon’s splendid survey of airport architecture is like stepping into a time machine and bearing witness to all the ambition and angst of the 20th century itself. Naked Airport is highly erudite, extremely entertaining and a fascinating read."

—Carole Rifkind, author of A Field Guide to Contemporary American Architecture

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226304564
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 898,386
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Alastair Gordon is a critic, curator, and contributing writer to the New York Times and writes regularly for Architectural Digest, Town & Country, and Dwell. He is the author of several books including Weekend Utopia, Spaced Out, Beach Houses, and Romantic Modernist. 
 
 
 

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Table of Contents

     Prologue

1.  Prototypes: 1924-1930

2.  Naked Airport: 1930-1940

3.  New Deal: 1933-1941

4.  Air Power: 1939-1957

5.  Jet-Land: 1957-1970

6.  The Sterile Concourse: 1970-2000

     Epilogue: From Lindbergh to Bin Laden

     Notes

     Selected Bibliography

     Illustration Credits

     Acknowledgements

     Index

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