From Library Journal
This book is a well-researched contribution to a very small field, the history of civil engineering, which includes the construction of covered bridges, tunnels, canals, railroads, etc. It highlights some of the engineering marvels of the 19th century, such as the Crystal Palace in London and the Mont Cenis Tunnel under the Alps. Peters (architecture and history, Lehigh Univ.) goes beyond mere history, however, to propose something called "technological thinking," which he sees as proceeding from construction itself. Together with Kenneth Frampton's Studies in Tectonic Culture (MIT, 1995) and Cecil Elliot's Technics and Architecture (MIT, 1992), this book supports the current rage for industrially based, compositionally complex forms in architecture and design. The assumption of this work, paradoxically, is that construction should inform ideas, the reverse of the conventional wisdom that has always sought to impose lofty design ideas on "mere" construction. For large specialized collections.?Peter Kaufman, Boston Architectural Ctr.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"There are few histories of technology and a great many of architecture. Yet, for the most part they are structured as one-way streets of the professional trades. The novel thing about Tom Peters' work is that he views the daring development of the 19th century as a network
: a network out of engineering invention and
communication invention. Thus, Peters unfolds a magnificent kaleidoscope of the interactions of the inventors. Because Tom Peters' book transforms our optics and our perceptual focus, his work will prove indispensable."
"Building the Nineteenth Century
is an interesting, broadly constructed history of engineering and technological developments in the nineteenth century, which brings to light new material on some relatively unexplored and little discussed areas of technological development."
—Harry F. Mallgrave
, Ph.D., The Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities