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Predictable text, nice pictures
on March 5, 2006
The color pictures are all new and the subjects very well chosen, and paging through this book is enjoyable. The concise text reviews the usual classifications in the usual ways, its academic tone partly redeemed by occasional wit.
He renames Richardson Romanesque as Richardsonian, Federal as Late Georgian, and says Queen Anne originated from Arts and Crafts rather than medieval styles, although I think there's a little of each. Like most authors, he discusses the white flat-roofed Modern examples as though they were the next in line to follow the Tudors and Colonial Revivals, despite the fact that they never amounted to more than an insignificant fraction of houses built, then continues with the Post Modern and Deconstructivist styles, pure "magazine architecture", marking an era in which architects begin to serve a new and powerful patron of the arts, the media.
But the countless postwar ranches and split-levels are never mentioned. Trying to keep it highbrow, I guess.
He returns to ordinary houses at the very end, to jump on the mock-the-McMansions bandwagon, using as examples, ironically, some of the prettiest houses in the book.
A few nits to pick:
* Medieval homes had steep roofs because they used thatch, not due to the narrow London streets.
* Le Corbusier's "machines for living" quote actually was intended to extoll creature comforts, not stark Modernism.
* The Arts and Crafts post-and-beam masterpiece, the Gamble House, is ordinary stud construction where it doesn't show.
* Beams are always horizontal, as are clapboards.
* It was Louis Sullivan who said architecture was set back 50 years by a late 19th Century exhibition, not some academic.
Still like the James C. Massey book, available used. But you may like this one for its pictures.