The Biography of a Building

The Biography of a Building

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780500342763
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Publication date: 10/24/2011
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.28(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Witold Rybczynski was born in Edinburgh, raised in London, and attended schools in England and Canada. He studied architecture at McGill University, where he also taught for twenty years. He is currently the Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania.

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The Biography of a Building 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
the.ken.petersen on LibraryThing 30 days ago
One of the things I love most about collecting books is when one comes across a work which shouldn't interest one at all, but does. This, for me, is one of those books.I have but a passing interest in architecture and the only reason that this tome drew my attention was because the Sainsbury Centre is the nearest gallery to my East Anglian home. I have visited the Centre, although not as often as I should. One of the signs of the success of Mr Rybcyznski's book is that I have determined to go again, very soon and, when I do, I shall view the experience through more educated eyes .To the non-architectural type (me), it is sometimes difficult to understand why a building developed in the way that it did. This book covers the earliest concepts up to the finished entity and deals honestly with what was successful and what needed to be adjusted later. I was particularly interested in the story as to how the double skin approach came about as a very late development, and was almost vetoed on the grounds of being too late. One thinks of a building being designed to the nth degree and this, almost living, growth was something that I did not expect.If I were to criticise the work, I would suggest that a thick pamphlet may have sufficed. The pages are thick, the script large and the incidental details drawn out perhaps just a little too far. One does occasionally feel that a story is there to fill the pages. There is, however, a fascinating story in the book; I found that I became caught up in the alterations and extensions that were added over the years. These were all performed by Norman Foster, the original architect, and so, fit seamlessly onto the original. Norman Foster is one of (if not the) greatest British Architect of the twentieth century and this book would be a must for anyone interested in his work. One gets to read his reasoning on the design in a way that must be quite rare. I would also presume that anybody interested in museum and gallery design would need to obtain a copy of this book but, if none of the above applies to you, but you like to be taken into unexpected areas of discovery, then this is a well written work with much to recommend it.
Stromata on LibraryThing 30 days ago
I was very excited to receive this book as I have very much enjoyed other work by Witold Rybczynski, particularly `The Perfect House¿ an account of his journey around the villas of Palladio. The subject of `The Biography of a Building¿ is the Sainsbury Centre of Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia on the edge of Norwich in Norfolk, built to house the works of art acquired by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury. Rybczynski tells the fascinating story of how this wonderful project was conceived, nurtured and delivered - just how does an extremely large but deeply personal collection of art kept in a domestic setting become a `Collection¿ on public display in an academic environment? Robert and Lisa Sainsbury prove to be remarkable people, firstly for wishing to share their `treasures¿; for funding the project and, perhaps most importantly, for choosing a young architect right at the beginning of his career ¿ Norman Foster. Indeed the client/architect relationship was so successful that Foster was called upon years later to provide an extension to the Sainsbury Centre ¿ a pretty unique appointment.The author also skilfully explores the nature of collections and collecting as well as the function and purpose of galleries and museums. After reading this book you will never enter an art gallery without asking yourself `how did all this get here¿? The relationship between architect and client in general is also intelligently explored. A book that would interest many ¿ extremely well written, a scholarly yet an absorbing, `easy¿ read. I envisage taking this down from the bookshelf and re reading many times. It is (in its hardback form) an extremely pleasing book to handle with a cool grey jacket with architectural drawings of the Sainsbury Centre and lovely thick pages ¿ a real `keeper¿. Very highly recommended.