on June 24, 2014
The title for this handsome book is a total misnomer.
It should rather be along the lines of ‘A Short Survey of Famous Buildings'.
Indeed, the book does not deal with an overall overview of architecture, neither in terms of history, of styles nor of techniques. Rather, it briefly discusses 50 very well known constructions across the world, most recognized as significant by UNESCO. For each, a single-page essay is provided, often including a long quotation from UNESCO documents. This is complemented with a full-page photograph, and sometimes two or three more. That's it! Thus, any reader who is already mildly familiar with the field is not led to any significant 'discovery' regarding, say, the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower.
Less fundamental elements are also annoying to the reader:
- significant excerpts of the essays dealing with each building are repeated word for word in the introduction to the book;
- priority is given to measurements in feet with lengths in metres appearing in parentheses ... but only the latter are round numbers so that for example the reader learns that the Palace of Versailles covers an area of 721 180 square feet (67 000 square metres);
- St. Peter's Basilica is described as being next to the Tiber whereas it is actually several hundred metres away!
Overall, this book can only be recommended to children or grown-ups with very limited prior knowledge of architecture.
on October 14, 2013
This was bought as a gift for an architecture student. The photos and die-cut windows have given her a deeper understanding of the buildings and works of architects that she has admired for so long. If you are looking for a gift for an architect (or yourself), you can't go wrong with this book. Not only does it deliver great satisfaction to the reader, for what you get, the price is a bargain.