There Goes the Neighborhood: 10 Buildings People Loved to Hate

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rubin's (Margaret Bourke-White) informative and often surprising survey chronicles how 10 "architectural eyesores [became] icons beloved symbols of cities, countries and cultures." Beginning with the Washington Monument (initially spurned by Washington himself as "a waste of money when the country needed more important things" and later compared by critics to a huge stalk of asparagus) and including the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and McDonald's restaurants worldwide, Rubin liberally peppers the narrative with quotes and critical reactions from the architects' peers. Pictures and architectural drawings, cleverly printed in blue and white, offer a glimpse into history as well as the creative process. Some lesser-known edifices could benefit from greater context. The acrimony between Philip Johnson and his New Canaan, Conn., neighbors over his glass house, for instance, escalated beyond angry newspaper editorials to rock throwing; but the text reveals little about New Canaan beyond the residents' penchant for colonial homes. A general discussion on architecture might have benefited readers, since the book points out specific examples of society's resistance to change and new ideas; a glossary and notes on architects provide information for further research. This volume may well inspire readers to examine buildings from restaurants to the Flatiron building in new ways and bolster their courage to think differently. Ages 8-12. (July) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
This book offers a wonderful, amusing, and informative set of insights into eleven instances of pioneering architectural innovations. The neighbors really did not like the Washington Monument in the District of Columbia, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, New York City's Flatiron Building, Phillip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut, Frank Gehry's California House, Neuschwanstein in Germany, California 's Sleeping Beauty Castle, New York City's Guggenheim Museum, France's Pompidou Center, the Walker Community Library in Minnesota, nor the ubiquitous golden arches of McDonald's. 2001, Holiday House, Inc., $18.95. Ages 10 to 12. Reviewer: M. Henebry SOURCE: Parent Council, September 2001 (Vol. 9, No. 1)
Children's Literature
Taking as her subject ten beloved (mostly) and world-renown buildings, Rubin surveys the controversies that the art and architect aroused while they were being designed and built. The Washington Monument ("the big furnace chimney on Potomac Flats") and the Pompidou Center in Paris ("the backside of a refrigerator") were both excoriated in their time. Philip Johnson's Glass House and Frank O. Gehry's redesign of a pink stucco California house ("a dirty thing to do to someone else's front yard") received no credit from their neighbors. Rubin leads readers through Mad King Ludwig's creation of a castle that later became the model for Disneyland, the stubbornness of Frank Lloyd Wright in insisting that his design for the Guggenheim Museum ("a toilet bowl") would work, and the construction of the visually all-consuming Eiffel Tower ("useless and monstrous"), which was nearly scrapped for its metal in 1909. What makes this a wonderful read is Rubin's ability to quote feisty commentary from journals and newspapers of the day. The architects figure prominently in the story and short biographies are appended. What detracts from this excellent work are the blue-toned photographs that look considerably dull. Perhaps the designer was overcome with so many black-and-white photographs of historical material that inserting color in the more modern photographs would have seemed jarring. Each section is introduced with an often blurry or busy photomontage including quotes, different views of the building under discussion and other icons, which only partially work to give readers a look at the building and a feeling for the controversy. Nonetheless, middle schoolers with an interest in historicalpreservation, architecture, architects and the way our attitudes about art evolve will enjoy this book. The architects, as "out-of-the-box" thinkers, show readers how being well prepared, tenaciously sticking with an idea, compromising occasionally and seeing a building to completion can be a dramatic and heady experience. 2001, Holiday House, $18.95. Ages 8 to 14. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
VOYA
What do the Eiffel Tower and McDonald's restaurants have in common? People protested their building, claiming that the structures would ruin their neighborhoods. Rubin briefly tells of the controversies surrounding ten buildings, including the Washington Monument, Philip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and the underground Walker Community Library in Minneapolis. Although some are better known than others, their stories combine successfully to give the reader a sense of architectural innovation—how it is shaped by trends and technology, how it responds to its culture, and how it breaks new ground. Rubin spends just a few pages on each building, and the text is always interesting, if in a few places it does not completely explain a situation or an aspect of a building. Plenty of photographs, although small and cropped poorly, and diagrams of the buildings illustrate the text. The black-and-white illustrations do not portray adequately the buildings whose color was part of their innovation. With the cut-and-paste aspect to the chapter heading illustrations, pages done in negative, and the colorful typeface, the book design has a liveliness that will appeal to readers. Rubin's narrative ends abruptly, though she does close with biographical notes on the architects. Although recent books such as John Severance's Skyscrapers: How America Grew Up (Holiday House, 2000/VOYA April 2001), or David Macaulay's Building Big (Houghton Mifflin, 2000/VOYA April 2000) are more successful at explaining the mechanics of or culture surrounding innovative buildings, Rubin's book provides an appealing and accessible foray for younger teens into the worldof architecture. It will give them an idea of how quickly tastes change and how lasting is creative innovation. Index. Photos. Biblio. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Holiday House, 96p, $18.95. Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer: Nina Lindsay
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-How "architectural eyesores become icons" is the subject of this entertaining survey of 10 historically maligned buildings from the U.S. and Europe, some famous (Eiffel Tower, Flatiron Building, Guggenheim Museum) and some less so (Frank O. Gehry's house, Neuschwanstein Castle). Each chapter covers one building "that people hated at first"; some designs, in fact, remain controversial today. The narrative provides historical background, designer profiles, and materials and methods of construction. Colorful criticism rules: in its day, the Washington Monument was alternately compared to a "stalk of asparagus" and a "tall and awkward smokestack"; the Pompidou Center fa ade was likened to "the back of a refrigerator, enormously enlarged." A mix of building types is represented, from commercial (McDonald's worldwide restaurants) to residential (Philip Johnson's Glass House) to public (the underground Walker Community Library). The book is generously illustrated with blue duo-tone photographs of variable quality (too many are dark and out of focus) and architectural sketches. The use of blue type and occasional pages with white type on a blue background recall old-fashioned architectural blueprints. A wry complement to more traditional sources on famous buildings for student researchers, browsers, and architecture buffs.-Mary Ann Carcich, Mattituck-Laurel Public Library, Mattituck, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
It is utterly fascinating to read that so many buildings now considered not only beloved landmarks but also part and parcel of the cultural and historical landscape were reviled, attacked, and genuinely despised when they were first constructed. Who knew that it took over a century for the Washington Monument to be built, and that it was jeered at as a "stalk of asparagus?" Or that the writer Guy de Maupassant ate lunch often at the restaurant in the Eiffel Tower because it was the only place in Paris where he didn't have to see the structure he called "disgraceful." The Flatiron building and the Guggenheim museum in New York, the exquisite Glass House in Connecticut, King Ludwig's castle, the Centre Georges Pompidou, the underground Walker Community Library in Minneapolis, and the Golden Arches of McDonald's are included in this roundup of now-beloved former eyesores. Rubin quotes from contemporary accounts and clearly describes how each building was planned and constructed. Blue-toned photos-like architectural blueprints-are plentiful; occasionally a page is printed in white text on blue, which adds interest, if making it a bit harder to read. Young people looking for material for school reports will find a gold mine here; it's excellent for a study of changing tastes and public opinion, too. If only the painter Jackson Pollock's name had been spelled correctly. The excellent brief bibliographies include videos, Web sites, and interviews as well as books. (glossary, notes, bibliographies) "(Nonfiction. 9-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823414352
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/1/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 7.88 (w) x 10.32 (h) x 0.59 (d)

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