At first glance, Judith Dupré's Skyscrapers
might appear to be just another coffee-table prop. Yes, the fact that it measures a good foot and a half might keep it off the average shelf, but its unusual size is not just a gimmick. This book does full-scale justice to the beautiful black-and-white photographs of some of the world's most famous skyscrapers.
Organized chronologically, this is not a comprehensive guide but a selective survey: 50 of the most "significant" skyscrapers of the last century. From the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., to the Kuningan Persada Tower in Jakarta, Indonesia, Skyscrapers is a fact lover's dream. Vital statistics on each building include location, height, materials, primary architect, date of completion, and place in architectural history. The careful interaction of text and image brings the unique story of each building--and builder--to life.
But in both Skyscrapers and her follow-up book, Bridges, Dupré moves past the structures themselves to examine the ideals and dreams of the society that created them. Why build up? Who initiated the race to be first? The economic, cultural, and political role of buildings in everyday life is easy to overlook. Skyscrapers is a book that sticks out way past the knees and says, "Hey, look again." --Sara Nickerson
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Look up! Architectural historian Dupré, who's also written about bridges (Bridges: A History of the World's Most Important Spans), churches (Churches), and monuments (Monuments: America's History in Art and Memory), has updated her 1996 "instant classic" with 15 new essays and plenty of new contenders for World's Tallest Building.
Reflecting the many changes in the world, and in the world of architecture, since 1996, the new edition looks at the myriad "supertalls" in China and elsewhere, the wave of "green" skyscrapers, and the barrier-busting work of architects such as Adrian Smith, who designed the current tall champion, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Burj Khalifa won't hold the title for long: Smith and Gordon Gill Architecture are busy working on the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which will top out at one kilometer. It's scheduled to be completed in 2018.
The book's design is supertall itself, measuring 9″ x 18″ to really make the gorgeous renderings and photos pop. Dupré starts with the world's first skyscraper (Chicago's Home Insurance Building, built in 1885, demolished in 1931) and proceeds through the classics like the Flatiron Building, the Chrysler Building, and the Empire State Building in New York, Marina City and the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower) in Chicago, to newer achievements in building height located in London, Atlanta, Sweden, Asia and various Arab countries.
I spent a lot of time gazing at the photos of Cesar Pelli's beautiful design for the Petronas Towers in Juala Lumpur, Malaysia, the tallest building(s) in the world from 1997–2004. Dupré writes: Although Pelli was charged with creating a design that would be uniquely Malaysian, there was little authentically Malaysian design in the city: British Colonialists had built its most significant buildings and its commercial structures were rendered in a nondescript International Style. The only truly traditional constructions were short bamboo structures with thatched roofs. Instead, Pelli said he "tried to respond to the climate, to the dominant Islamic culture, and to the sense of form and patterning that I could perceive in traditional Malaysian building." Evidently, the architect achieved that aim: In 2004, Pelli was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the towers' design. The dear departed (can you say that about a structure?) World Trade Center towers are documented as well—the photo representation is of the double "towers of light" that make their appearance every September 11. The single-spire replacement for the towers, which LJ staffers can see out our office window, is also documented. That much-delayed project is due to be completed next year.