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AIA Guide to New York City Paperback – June 27, 2000
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From Library Journal
This very up-to-date new edition of AIA's Guide to New York City is a descriptive and interesting look at the city's changing assortment of architecture, including firehouses, parks, schools, parking garages, churches, bridges, and other landmarks. Composed of over 2000 new photographs (several per page), 100 maps, and hundreds of new short but brutally honest entries, the guide is arranged geographically by borough, and while it does indeed cover each one, the book inevitably focuses on Manhattan. White, an architect and educator, and Willensky (When Brooklyn Was the World) have divided each borough into sectors and then into neighborhood areas, and fairly lengthy commentaries under each heading describe the character of each division. There is an extensive index and a fairly interesting glossary at the beginning of the book. There is also a picture of a library that completed construction in late 1999. It has been 12 years since the last edition, so public and academic libraries may desire an updated copy, especially if there is interest in New York or its architecture.DAlison Hopkins, Queens Borough P.L., Jamaica, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Blithe in spirit and unerring in vision."
-- New York Magazine
"An architect's romp though five boroughs."
-- The Daily Record, New Jersey
"A book for architectural gourmands and gastronomic gourmets."
-- The Village Voice
"Keen wit and perceptive observations."
-- The Book of the Month Club
"A definitive record of New York's architectural heritage . . . a witty and helpful pocketful which serves as arbiter of architects, baedeker for boulevardiers, catalog for the curious, primer for preservationists, [and] sourcebook to students. For all who seek to know of New York, it is here.
No home should be without a copy."
-- Municipal Art Society
"Smart, vivid, funny, and opionated."
-- The New York Times
Top customer reviews
I have mixed feelings about the opinionated tone, and sometimes the opinions are way off base. 4 New York Plaza, the ugliest building in the financial district, with tiny windows dispersed miserly over a small portion of the facade, is described "handsome," while 180 Maiden Lane, an eight sided glass building with spectacular views over Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan, is "tacky." As with some other critics writing from within the architecture profession, the opinions don't consider what it's like to actually live or work in these buildings. Further, relatively boring dime a dozen modernist skyscrapers, which may be interesting from an architecture history standpoint, receive equal billing with New York's true gems, its art deco and early twentieth century skyscrapers.
I wish that the authors had highlighted a few relatively unknown buildings that they believe are especially worthy of note (e.g. Cunard building, old RCA Victor building on Lexington, Chanin Building) or even used a simple marker for buildings with beautiful lobbies. Otherwise it's difficult to know which buildings are can't miss (aside from the obvious) without reading the whole thing.
Ultimately the opinions make the book more interesting and as a reference, this book is indispensible.
This is a book for architectural historians, curious cultural tourists and general readers. The entries are many, so the words included with each are few. Readers are not treated to long narrative histories of imporant landmarks but, rather, to a book that is exceptionally wide and quite shallow. This is what one generally expects from AIA-sponsored guides, so there should be no surprises. There are tiny monochrome photographs with almost every entry, but their small size limits the reader's ability to get a good mental image of the building. Buy this book to take New York's lovely historical architecture with you wherever you go. And by all means, go to see it! No city on earth even comes close.
Latest edition is 2000, so World Trade Center towers are included.
A real selling point are the walks outside of Manhattan that this book offers. This shows off a side of New York hardly ever covered by other book or looked into by tourists, and it is very interesting.
The pictures are few and far between, and not large enough to give you an in depth look at the buildings described, but the walks layed out in the book are well organized, easy to follow and very interesting.
Buy this book and go explore one of the greatest city in the world!