A World History of Architecture Hardcover – Feb 25 2008
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About the Author
Marian Moffett earned a B.Arch. at North Carolina State University (1971) and the M.Arch. and PhD. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1973 and 1975, respectively). She taught architectural history at he University of Tennessee from 1975 until her death in 2004 where she collaborated with Lawrence Wodehouse in producing exhibitions and catalogs on the architecture of the Tennessee Valley Authority and cantilever barns, as well as co-authoring A History of Western Architecture and East Tennessee Cantilever Barns. Her research included work on wooden architecture in eastern Europe and town planning in Tennessee. She was active with the Southeast Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians and has served as President of the UT Faculty Senate and as an academic administrator in the Office of the Provost.
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Lawrence Wodehouse was an Architecture professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville from 1979 to 1993. Wodehouse worked as a professor of Architecture at the Pratt Institute in New York prior to coming to the University of Tennessee. Lawrence Wodehouse received his master's degree from Cornell in 1963 and his Ph.D. from St. Andrews University in 1980. His major research concentrations have been in 19th and 20th century architecture and also the vernacular architecture of East Tennessee. He has coauthored two books with Marian Moffett, The Cantilever Barn in East Tennessee, and also Built for the People of the United States: Fifty Years of TVA Architecture. Lawrence Wodehouse retired in the Spring of 1993 and died in 2002.
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The difference? Price. $52 more! Just check the other book. For a while the First Edition was out of print so I was forced to use "Buildings Across Time" (I teach architecture at a Community College so price is very important to me). While I understand that the publishers have to make a profit, how is that that they can "afford" to sell this book for $41 while an exact copy of the "approved" higher education version is $92?
I welcome the addition of notable examples in the last chapter but I have a problem with the removal of many other buildings. Just to name a few that were present in the First Edition and are missing from the Second: Biskupin, Ishtar Gate, Temple of Ramesses II, Great Stupa at Borobodur, Caernarvon Castle etc. I am not sure what this cleansing is all about, both editions are 592 pages. Granted something had to give since there are new examples throughout.
I am only writing this in a hope that the Third Edition would include the missing examples from First Edition. If number of pages is fixed, just make some of the photographs smaller. Come on McGraw-Hill, you can do it!
The most important buildings, from ancient times to modern times are covered, and the text is well done, informative, and not dry as are many books on art and architecture. One of the book's strengths is the coverage of the ideas and practices of important architects who have contributed many of the buildings in this book. The authors also do a good job of covering the social importance and context of the buildings and how they differed from culture to culture.
After reading this book, I would highly recommend Sir Nicholaus Pevsner's An Outline of European Architecture for more reading on that subject. His descriptions of important buildings are often nothing short of inspired, and he is considered one of the greatest and most stimulating writers on the subject who ever put pen to paper.
No architecture book can cover every important building, but this one covers almost all the ones I would have included. It's been said that buildings like the bigger and more elaborate Gothic Cathedrals, with their labor intensive, complex masonry facades and interiors and their ornate lead-glass windows, are the most expensive artworks ever done, costing a billion dollars to replicate today. Important buildings are therefore essential for us to understand if only for the tremendous amount of resources that go into them.
Overall, a fine book on the subject and one that compares favorably with the many other beautiful, large-format books out there on architecture. I've also seen the book for the list price of $65 in retail shops so if Amazon is selling it for $40 I would consider that a great deal for this book.
To the authors' credit, with so much to cover in one volume, their selections were superb. Here are a few critical comments (intended constructively) regarding a text that is overall superbly concise. I feel they over-represent medieval architecture at the expense of Islamic architecture ( Arab,Persian, & Mongol). Also, the 1st & 2nd Industrial Revolutions should be emphasized after 1850.
1) 12th-13th century is all Western / European medieval. Probably state-of-the art architecture of this era was Islamic -- we know that Islamic empires and Monguls were conquering much of Asia during these centuries.
2) Any history of architecture over 2000 years should include at least 3 factors which foment innovations in building techs: catastrophe (Great Fire of London, Great Chicago Fire,), environmental challenges (Venice on a lagoon, St Petersburg on a swamp), War & conquest (Hellenism & Alexander, Islamic empires after 800 ad, post-WWII rebuilding of Europe)
3) How can you discuss medieval manors & castles but not discuss the 17th / 18th century mercantile plantations of the Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish and British empires?
4)The effects of the first and second Industrial Revolutions upon architecture should be the FOCUS of 19th century and early 20th century architectural history.
5)In terms of 20th century architecture, you cannot evaluate skyscrapers without first understanding the infrastructure that made vertical building possible: elevators, fire protection, steel frames, electrical power, cheap floated glass, etc.