Nearest Thing to Heaven by Mark Kingwell
The Empire State Building and American Dreams (Icons of America)

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This elegantly written appreciation of the Empire State Building opens up the building’s richness and importance as an icon of America. The book leads us through the facts surrounding the skyscraper’s conception and construction, then enters into a provocative theoretical discussion of its function as an icon, its representation in pictures, literature, and film, and the implications of its iconic status as New York’s most important architectural monument to ambition and optimism.
The Empire State Building literally cannot be seen in its totality, from any perspective. And paradoxically, this building of unmistakable solidity has been made invisible by familiarity and reproduction through imagery. Mark Kingwell encourages us to look beneath the strong physical presence of the building, to become aware of its evolving layers of meaning, and to see how the building lives within a unique imaginative space in the landscape of the American consciousness. He offers new ways of understanding the Empire State Building in all its complexity and surprising insights into its special role as an American icon.


About Mark Kingwell

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Mark Kingwell is professor of philosophy, University of Toronto, a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine, and the author of eight books. He teaches and writes frequently about design and architecture and has lectured to academic and popular audiences throughout the world.
Published May 28, 2006 by Yale University Press. 256 pages
Genres: History, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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A philosophy professor and Harper's contributing editor, Kingwell discusses the building's aesthetics and before riffing philosophically about how ""the truth of the building lies in its entire universe of use and meaning."" Namely, the people who have worked in the Empire State Building and visi...

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