Most helpful critical review
98 of 120 people found the following review helpful
Pretty but has technical errors
on November 21, 2011
I had no idea what to expect when I ordered this book. I am interested in architecture and structural design, and this book promised to cover both. It is a nice format with each 1 or 2 page spread being a separate article on a topic. The illustrations are very well done, but reading the text I found some really bad technical errors.
For example Page 52 "Steel":
"The production of steel involves melting of iron ore and the addition of other elements, often called alloys. The mix of these alloys determines not only the hardness of the steel but other properties as well. For example the addition of chromium leaves a hard oxide on the surface of the steel, giving us what we know as "stainless steel"."
The only thing correct in this quote is the first phrase. "The production of steel involves melting of iron ore and the addition of other elements,"... Everything beyond that first comma is just plain wrong.
An alloy is a homogenous mixture of two or more metals or metallic elements or of metals and non metaloid elements. Steel itself is an alloy of mostly iron and carbon, the addition of chromium and molybdenum creates a higher stregnth steel alloy, not stainless steel which is an alloy of chromium, nickle and iron. The "hard oxide on the surface" is simply nonsense.
Had the passage above been written thus it would be more correct:
The production of steel involves the melting of iron and the addition of carbon to the metal. Alloys are created by the addition of other elements such as chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium, to give different properties such as hardness and yield strength. For instance the addition of at least 11% chromium gives us what we call "stainless steel".
Another example is the section on the production of float glass, which while explaining problems with other methods of plate glass production, never bothers to explain the float glass process itself. (Making float glass is remarkable and involves floating a ribbon of molten glass on a pool of liquified metal) The illustrations do little more than show a lot of hot areas resulting in a ribbon of plate glass, and do not show the pool of liquified metal.
These multiple errors bring into question the research and veracity of everything presented in the book. The lack of a bibliography indicates this is mostly an art book. Not a well researched work. The author has great credentials but it would seem is technically illiterate. The book as an okay overview of the history of skyscrapers and has wonderful illustrations showing the evolution of their form, but as you get into the text you will find the pretty pictures are the only thing of real substance.