Like a well-designed building, Shaping a Nation
is meticulously researched and structurally pleasing. In a little less than 400 pages, author and respected architectural journalist Carter Wiseman examines the major architectural movements of the last century, including industrialization, modernism, and even 1990s computer-aided design. What makes this book more than just an encyclopedia of events is Wiseman's ability to contextualize architecture within the philosophical and intellectual thinking of the time, to paint a broad picture of how culture shaped architecture. From Frank Lloyd Wright
to Pop-chic artist extraordinaire Robert Venturi
, Wiseman spotlights 200 architects and their works. Although traditionally this is a scholarly subject, Wiseman writes with a dash of humor and boundless enthusiasm, qualities sure to appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in architecture. The huge wealth of information makes Shaping a Nation
a superb reference for established architects and critics.
From Publishers Weekly
This vast project, in the hands of an author with less than Wiseman's formidable critical experience, would probably not have been completed, and would certainly not have been completed so well. Taking on the whole of the 20th century, especially before the century has quite ended, is a difficult endeavor in any cultural field, but to do so in American architecture is most ambitious. Few art forms have had the number and variety of personalities and influences as has America's last 100 years of buildings. Wiseman, former architecture critic for New York, now a contributing editor for ArtNews and author of I.M. Pei, reveals a new way of understanding the seemly dissonant styles of eclecticism, early modernism and postmodernism, and recent revivals such as Seaside and Disney's Celebration, while constructing a traditional but compelling argument for the importance of architecture to our current culture. "The architectural challenge for America is to reflect a society of increasing variation, and still give physical shape to its highest aspirations." In certain stylistic elements, Wiseman finds a common thread in architects previously separated by formal analysis, and provides a constant, unbiased, sharp critical examination of buildings they have built. Underlying the force of the relentless study of the value of these styles lies a very well developed eye that understands the most subtle successes of architectural forms. The result is a desirable addition to the shelves of readers even with only a passing interest in architecture, and an essential book for the more serious. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.