The Look of Architecture by Witold Rybczynski
(New York Public Library Lectures in Humanitites)

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Synopsis

What is style in architecture? "Style is like a feather in a woman's hat, nothing more," said Le Corbusier, expressing most modern architects' low regard for the subject. But Witold Rybczynski disagrees, and in The Look of Architecture, he makes a compelling case for the importance of style to the mother of the arts.
This is a book brimming with sharp observations--that form does not follow function; that the best architecture is not timeless but precisely of its time; that details do not merely complement the architecture--details are the architecture. But the heart of the book illuminates the connection between architecture, interior decoration, and fashion. Style is the language of architecture, Rybczynski writes, and fashion represents the wide--and swirling--cultural currents that shape and direct that language. The two, style and fashion, are intimately linked--indeed, architecture cannot escape fashion. To set these ideas in sharp relief, he shows us how style and fashion have been expressed in the work of major architects--including Frank Gehry, Mies van der Rohe, Charles McKim, Allan Greenberg, Robert Venturi, Enrique Norten, and many others. He helps us see their works anew and ultimately to look afresh at our surroundings.
Style is one of the enduring--and endearing--aspects of architecture, Rybczynski concludes. Furthermore, an architecture that recognizes the importance of style would not be as introspective and self-referential as are so many contemporary buildings. It would be part of the world--not architecture for architects, but for the rest of us.
 

About Witold Rybczynski

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Witold Rybczynski is one of America's best known writers on architecture, the author of the bestselling One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw, Home, Waiting for the Weekend, The Most Beautiful House in the World, and A Clearing in the Distance. He has also written on architecture for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time, and The New York Review of Books. The Martin and Margy Meyerson Professor of Urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, he lives in Philadelphia.
 
Published June 14, 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA. 130 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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there is no doubt that dress comes first.”) This short work is the result of a series of lectures delivered at the New York Public Library, and the author makes good use of the materials at hand—the library itself, the famous series of buildings along the 40th Street side, the infamous bunch alon...

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Another great strength of the book is its delightfully discursive set pieces, including one on the buildings around Bryant Park—this will have visitors to New York clutching this trim and portable book as they peer upwards at the rich mosaic of buildings so beautifully contextualized within.

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