Thursday, November 15, 2007

The A-Z of Modern Architecture
When I visit architects' offices, I often get book envy. Sure I've got Rem Koolhaus' S, M, L, XL on my shelf, the biography of Chicago preservationist Richard Nickel (They All Fall Down), and a few other architectural titles. But the rest of my collection is chock full of novels, histories and the like. Maybe I need a damn big architectural encyclopedia to fill that gap in my library. The A-Z of Modern Architecture by Peter Gossel aims to be that book.

"The history of modernism begins, to cut a long story woefully short, with the emergence of the notion of an individual acting with sole responsibility," writes Gossel. "This happened against a background of the loss of the churches' cultural dominance, and a situation driven by the contradictions of a productive sphere geared towards profit. This radical change, often equated with the 'revaluation of all values' (Nietzsche), finds its technical and social expression in the industrialization that drastically altered the lifestyles of humankind and, with the intensive development of urban areas, had a very direct impact on architecture."

You can read more of Gossel's essay here.

Taschen says its book "puts the architects in the spotlight, profiling individuals so that readers can get a clear overview of their bodies of work. Each architect’s entry features a portrait, quote, and short biography as well as a description of important works, historical context, and general approach; illustrations include numerous drawings, photographs, and floor plans."

The extra-large format book ain't cheap. It retails for $250, but I saw it on Amazon for a mere $157.50.

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