- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Chronicle Books (June 10, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0811866440
- ISBN-13: 978-0811866446
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The BLDGBLOG Book
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BLDGBLOG is something new and substantially different from anything else I have seen. Secretly, I had always hoped it would become a book. Geoff Manaugh has provided the reader with an excursion into a new world part digital fantasy, part reality at the intersection of art, architecture, landscape design, and pure ideas. It is personal, idiosyncratic, and, best of all, incredibly interesting.
SARAH RICH, CO-FOUNDER, INHABITAT
A thousand years from now, looters will comb the rubble of ruined libraries in search of this book to study Manaugh's cubist love stories between humans and the cities they created.
LAWRENCE WESCHLER, AUTHOR OF EVERYTHING THAT RISES: A BOOK OF CO
If mankind of the early 21st century finds itself brought up before some Supreme Galactic Court and forced to account for its dubious record, I can think of no better submission for the Defense than this extravagantly gifted and brimmingly generous volume of Mr. Manaugh s.
JUSTIN MCGUIRK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ICON
Reading BLDGBLOG is like pulling a wire from under the wallpaper and following it through a series of rooms you never knew you had. A road trip for the intellectually curious.
JOSEPH GRIMA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, STOREFRONT FOR ART AND ARCHITE
Part conceptual travelogue, part sci-fi novel, part manifesto, The BLDGBLOG Book is above all a profoundly intelligent and inspiring wake-up call to architects, a plea to rediscover the power of imagination and interdisciplinary inquiry.
JEFF GORDINIER, AUTHOR OF X SAVES THE WORLD AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE,
Every now and then you encounter a writer who is so culturally omnivorous and intellectually alert that he enables you to see the world in a whole new way. Consider yourself warned: Geoff Manaugh is that writer. If you re not careful, The BLDGBLOG Book will rewire your brain. How to describe it? Biosecurity, William Burroughs, ominous brown clouds, shards of architecture, sprinkles of experimental fiction, sedimentary layers of geology, photography, ornithology, meteorology let's just say it might be the first book wildly ambitious enough to tell us what the 21st century is about. Drop his name at cocktail parties now before everyone else starts doing it.
About the Author
Geoff Manaugh is a senior editor at Dwell magazine and the founder and author of the popular Web site BLDGBLOG.
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While I thoroughly enjoy the blog, I don't get the same sense of narrative adventure from the online experience that I got from this book. It seems a lot of web-spawned ideas were greatly expanded on, and the print layout is certainly more aesthetically appealing. The blog did certainly built this book's framework and could do the same for another dozen or so volumes.
On that note, the fact that this isn't "The BLDGBLOG Book Volume 1 of 12" or Volume 1 of anything is a bit disheartening. However, Geoff has another book coming out soon (Landscape Futures) and with it I expect I will be able to slake my synapses with another eclectic dose of his unpredictable genius in print form.
"In other words, forget academic rigor. Never take the appropriate next step. Talk about Chinese urban design, the European space program, the landscape in the films of Alfred Hitchcock in the span of three sentences -- because it's fun, and the juxtapositions might take you somewhere. Most importantly, follow your lines of interest."
"Finally, I want to reiterate that BLDGBLOG is fundamentally about following, and not being ashamed by, your own enthusiasms, whether or not they are rigorous and appropriate for the academic mores of the day, or even interesting for your family and friends."
So that gives you a hint: this is not just a book about architecture. It's really a book about enthusiasm and imagination. It reads like a catalog of excitement and wondering-what-if. And there's something in here for anyone with a curious mind.
It's hard not to laugh out loud when reading "The BLDGBLOG Book," because Manaugh's own imagination is so astonishingly fertile and nearly child-like in its refusal to abide in comfortably deadening assumptions. Like a prodigious three-year old armed with a flaneur's comprehensive street-level knowledge of the way things work, Manaugh relentlessly interrogates everything we take for granted about the environments we create. The overall effect is to open new vistas in what appeared solid and settled, as if you'd suddenly discovered a secret passageway to the unknown in your own cramped apartment -- one of Manaugh's pet obsessions.
For example, hearing about a collaboration between architects and sound engineers to create "sonic windows" in a house that bring the outside aural environment indoors, Manaugh imagines the resident of such a house -- built above a glacier -- nearly immobilized by awe and wonder. "Crystalline pressures of melting ice 3,000 feet below you suddenly break, sending cascades of sound shivering upward through the house's foundations," he writes, with a taut lyricism rarely found in books these days, much less on blogs. "Some days it's impossible to get out of bed, hypnotized by unearthly noises."
What is this kind of writing -- science fiction? Magical hyper-realism? Who cares? Manaugh has succeeded in creating his own genre and remaking the world on his own terms. To him, the oncoming parade of catastrophes of economy, population, and climate are arguments for striving ever more boldly to refashion the world in accord with our innermost desires.
One of the first people to recognize the author's young genius was Allen Ginsberg. Though Manaugh only elliptically refers to his teenage apprenticeship with the late author of "Howl" and other poems in this book, it's easy to see why Ginsberg was smitten. Manaugh is able to fuse abstract musing with concrete particulars in a way that is particularly suited to our historical moment, yet harkens back to the restless probing of reality embodied by Ginsberg's own poetic mentor, the pioneering 18th century multimedia poet William Blake. Even the modus operandi of this book -- the fervid "hyperlinking" between seemingly disparate realms of emotion, experience, and intellectual discipline -- feels appropriate for our densely networked, neurotically twittering era. But unlike other blog books, this volume will outlast our ever-accelerating Now, because it's so luminously written. It's easy to imagine a smart kid stumbling on scans of "The BLDGBLOG Book" in some pocket-sized Library of Congress on Mars 100 years from now and feeling energized to take up his or her own outrageous vocation.
The author's topic is architecture, which he defines very broadly. So, he discusses underground structures _ largely sewers in fact, climate control _ as a complement to urban design, sound environments as well as landscapes in the distant future. Literature, music and cinema are inextricably meshed into the «architectural» exposés.
Though he often extrapolates lyrically, the author is convincing when he claims to base his discussions on realities and scientific facts.
The book reads almost like a magazine since throughout the main text, neatly organized in chapters, are interspersed related articles and interviews, some very short, some half a dozen pages long.
The work is abundantly and quite pertinently illustrated with quality colour photographs, many very artistic.
A prior visit to the blog may prove useful to the potential reader although the book is definitely more polished and thus highly recommended to anyone curious and open-minded.