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Skyscrapers--An Urban Type [Paperback]

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Item description for Skyscrapers--An Urban Type by R. Benson Mario Campi...

Skyscrapers have been a source of fascination to the expert and layman alike since the emergence of this building type in the nineteenth century and this volume presents a selection of the most captivating examples ranging from the skyscrapers of the 1890s to contemporary projects. Following a general introduction, a large format double page is devoted to each skyscraper and crucial aspects such as construction and facade details, load-bearing structures and essential technical features are analysed in text and illustrations. Each building is documented systematically enabling the reader to compare the buildings presented. The buildings and projects in this compendium were all innovative, epoch-making buildings in their day and provide a critical overview of the developement in this type of architecture. A wealth of visual material approximately 1000 plans, photographs, technical and axonometric drawings ensure that this volume is a detailed and valuable reference work.

"The skyscraper is clearly identifiable not only by virtue of its historical development and the specific approach to architecture it embodies, but also because it has an identity easily readable as an architecture type," writes architecture professor Mario Campi in the introduction to this volume. If that's as incomprehensible to you as it is to this reviewer, fear not--despite the semiotic gobbledy-gook of its introduction (not to mention its ridiculous subtitle), Skyscrapers may well be the most accessible book ever published on the topic. It's a veritable skyscraper hall of fame, with each of about 100 of the world's most famous skyscrapers accorded a two-page spread of a few black-and-white photos, plans, and thumbnail info on its architect(s), dimensions, structure, interior installations, faade, and "urban context."

It's all here, starting with the lady most popularly associated with the kick-off of the steel-skeletoned Skyscraper Century--Daniel Burnham's ever-elegant Flatiron Building at the confluence of Fifth Avenue and Broadway in New York City (1902)--and wrapping up with images of the models for such heady works in progress as an elliptical tower in Kuala Lumpur that looks like a giant incandescent shark fin rising up out of the landscape. In between, the book details the usual suspects (the Woolworth Building, the Empire State, Johnson Wax, 860/880 Lke Shore Drive Apartments, Lever House, the Transamerica Pyramid, the Sears Tower, the AT&T Building, and London's Canary Wharf Tower) and the unsung heroes (like New York's deco-era Barclay-Vesey Building, which pioneered the much-copied "ziggurat-style" stepped design to accommodate new laws to keep ever-taller buildings from blocking out natural light on the streets below) as well as the new contenders (Tokyo's Millennium Tower, Hong Kong's origami-like Bank of China) and the never-should-have-happened (Trump Tower, that tacky gold-plated temple to 1980s Gotham greed; or Kevin Roche's brutally ugly Knights of Columbus building in New Haven, Connecticut).

What's most interesting is how, after so many decades of huge upturned shoeboxes, so many of the new buildings--like Cesar Pelli's Nationsbank Corporate Center in Charlotte, North Carolina--have their luminous high-tech envelopes wrapped around new versions of the more shapely forms of their deco grandparents.

All around, no startling new insights or stellar photography here but a great lightweight thumbnail "who's who" among our modern-day cathedrals of industry and a fun coffee-table flip-through too. --Timothy Murphy

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Item Specifications...

Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 12.61" Width: 8.4" Height: 0.66"
Weight:   2.28 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 2000
Publisher   Birkhauser
ISBN  3764361301  
ISBN13  9783764361303  

Availability  0 units.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Building Types & Styles > General
2Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > General
3Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Reference

Reviews - What do customers think about Skyscrapers--An Urban Type?

What a wonderful book showing over 90 of the most noteworthy and best known skyscrapers from around the world.  Mar 29, 2007
The first thing you will be impressed with this book is the fine photograph on the cover. It would have been impossible to choose one skyscraper from all those covered to put on the cover. So,if you can't pick one;then why not put them all on the cover;which they did. Each skyscraper was reproduced in wood at a scale of 1:2000. The largest structure in the picture is of the One-Mile High Skyscraper that Frank Lloyd Wright designed in 1956 .It was to be built in Chicago,but was never constructed.One day,its time will surely come.The model on the cover dramatically shows what a gargantuan structure this would be compared with anything built to date.
As you go through the book you will be treated with photographs of all the skyscrapers,the context in which it was built , descriptions and illustrations detailing their structural design,typical floor-plans,circulation and facade details.Each structure is accompanied with some of its noteworthy design features.
Since these structures were built to accomodate man;it is fascinating to see how man and these strucures inter-relate.
It is hard to pick a favorite from so many excellent designs;but there is one particular building that interested me,more as an oddity than anything else. That being the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo,Japan,completed in 1972.This is a structure composed of 132 mobile residential units,of 20 cubic meters. That converts to 706 square feet.Assuming a ceiling height of 8 feet; that would result in a tiny room of 88 sq.ft. ;something like 11 X 8 feet.I find it unimaginable how one can think of magnificent skyscrapers and at the same time accept living in such a cubby hole.Such a tenant could ask himself only one question "With all this progress,where did I go wrong?".This reminds me of the apartment complex built in Russia many years ago. The Architect did ont equip it with any elevator.When the tenants raised a huge fuss over that;the government made the Architect move to the top floor.I think it would be poetic justice if Kisho Kurokawa was were to call one of these modules his abode.
Another building that was of personal interest to me was the AT&T Building in New York,completed in 1984. I was working in the HQ Building Design Group of AT&T at the time this building was proposed by the Architects.When we first saw the proposal,we were nothing short of flabbergasted. Our first thought was that it resembled a Chippendale dresser. Little did we think at the time ,that Mr Johnson,who we realized to be the best of the best,was going to have such an impact on skyscraper design,as he did with this building.Although there are many buildings,particularly around Malls that have tried to incorporate Johnson's designs;I have yet to see one that even closely competes with his success.
All in all a wonderful trip around some of the world's finest skyscrapers.

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