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The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond Hardcover – March 11, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 5 Up—"Every building has a story to tell." Beginning with the Egyptian pyramid of Djoser and progressing through the Greeks and Romans, the Renaissance, and on to modern skyscrapers and Paris's Pompidou Center, Dillon ties advances in architecture and building to specific cultural and economic conditions. In some cases, he credits the genius of individuals, such as Palladio. Each chapter begins with a historical overview and is followed by a description and illustration of a representative building. Clear explanations of basic building concepts (cantilevers, arches and domes, reinforced concrete) are balanced with discussions of more abstract principles such as symmetry, geometry, and pattern. But the volume is truly set apart by Biesty's elaborate, meticulously detailed, and clearly labeled drawings (some stretching across two large-format pages plus two half-page fold-outs). Widely known for his 1992 Incredible Cross Sections, Biesty here adds a kaleidoscopic yet tightly integrated visual dimension that will transfix readers. The section on London's Crystal Palace, designed by gardener Joseph Paxton and built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, is fascinating, outlining the modular design and rapid construction from 300,000 sheets of glass and 1,000 iron columns. Sections detailing Beijing's Forbidden City, Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, the Taj Mahal, and other buildings from outside the European tradition are worked deftly into the narrative.—Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA
This large, handsome volume combines broad discussions of architectural history with exceptional drawings of significant buildings from ancient to modern times. Though most of the 16 featured buildings were constructed in Europe, the Pyramid of Djoser, the Forbidden City, the Taj Mahal, the Chrysler Building, and the Sydney Opera House are included as well. A typical entry fills several large pages, including a beautifully drawn double-page illustration with a gatefold page highlighting related facts. An English architect, Dillon clearly knows his subject and presents it in a readable way. However, the time frame of historical events is sometimes vague, and occasionally a scene imagining the past is tinged with fiction. (No sources are appended.) Intricate and precise, Biesty’s colored-pencil drawings offer viewers a good sense of the scale as well as the form and presence of each building. Through his signature cross sections, details of interiors and construction can be seen as well. While the text, illustrations, and captions all provide information, it’s the drawings of buildings that make this a valuable resource. Grades 5-7. --Carolyn Phelan
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I'm sure smart kids will love this book, but as an adult who still loves Stephen Biesty, I was a little let down.