- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Overlook Press; 1st edition (December 10, 1981)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0879511311
- ISBN-13: 978-0879511319
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1 x 11.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 15 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,220,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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American Shelter: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Home Hardcover – December 10, 1981
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Altogether 103 styles of American housing are featured in this book, spanning the earth lodge (circa 300) to the projected space unit (circa 2000). There are full diagrams, history, and a description for each of the Native American and settler homes, including the pueblo, longhouse, and wigwam; the log cabin, garrison house, and saltbox; and on through the Georgian, Greek Revival, false front, Queen Anne, and neomodern. Whether you're a student of architecture, a dabbler in design, a house-history buff or a novice home-buyer attempting to decipher your realtor's descriptions, Lester Walker's American Shelter has a lot to offer. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Midwest Independent Research, educational websites. Affordable housing, mwir-affordablehousing.blogspot. There are book lists here.
While I still like the concept of an illustrated not overly detailed archi reference, this one leaves a bit to be desired. Line drawings alone might have been enough if they were more than cartoons. This cartoon version would have been fine if it had included photographic plates.
Also, the written accompaniment to these cartoons leaves a lot to be desired; any book that contains a sentence beginning with "But, however..." automatically disqualifies itself in my eyes...likewise, a sentence that states that Thomas Jefferson 'practically...practiced' architecture causes one to gnash his teeth.
More importantly, I question the accuracy of the drawings themselves. For instance, in the illustration of a colonial California 'Presidio' the long side of this roughly rectangular structure is listed as 70' in length. This is all well and good; however, the drawing of the wall containing the main entrance while visually shorter gives the width of the main entrance as 20'. If true, this wall, which appears to be shorter than the 70' long wall would in fact be a couple thousand feet in length if drawn to scale.
I also question the author's thesis regarding the metamorphosis of the Salt Box structure; and have questions about how he came up with the design and composition of Spanish Colonial Florida houses. As citations are absent throughout the book one soon begins to wonder if this encyclopaedia is as much conjured from an imagination as it is from facts on the ground.
I believe this book is well-suited to a seventh or eighth-grade audience, only if made smaller and paperback for ease of use. I actually wouldn't recommend this otherwise.
NOTE: upon consideration, I'm not sure it is suitable even for the 8th grade; 6th perhaps.
Each short chapter--beginning with Native American earth lodges and ending with speculative space station housing--covers a specific type of home architecture in the United States. Walker's straightforward prose is accompanied by cutaway drawings, detailed floor plans, and superbly rendered drawings of home exteriors.
It would be impossible in a short review to name all of the various styles covered by Walker. He covers everything from such well-known styles as the A-frame and Greek Revival to styles that may be less familiar to some: the baled hay and sod homes of 1890s Nebraska, the silo and yurt homes which gained popularity in the 1970s, and more. Another fascinating part of the book is the presence of many famous homes: Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water, and more.
Along the way, the reader will encounter many wonderful surprises--check out, for example, the "Elephant House" designed by James Lafferty! "American Shelter" is a book that you can pick up and start reading anywhere. But if you read this from cover to cover, you will have taken a truly epic journey with a master artist-historian.
Every beautiful page of American Shelter is devoted entirely to a specific architectural style, which is usually described in terms of a large, detailed line drawing from a 3/4 above view, followed by several sketches detailing the dimensions, followed with a simplified sketch explaining the style's basic shapes, all finally elucidated by a written passage. American Shelter is as useful to the architect as it is to the writer as it is to the researcher. Enjoy.