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Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture by [Moore, Rowan]
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Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Architecture resides at the intersection of wealth, power, and art. No wonder then, that it can result in hubris. In this account of why architects and, to some extent, their clients build what they do, architecture critic Moore never shies from skewering those whose designs were left wanting. He praises favorite designs, such as Zaha Hadid’s London Architecture Foundation (Moore was director of the foundation) and Lina Bo Bardi’s inspired Museu de Arte de São Paulo, and accompanying photographs help drive home his points. Moore provides a world junket of architecture, from Dubai’s palm-shaped islands and massive towers to Paris’ Pompidou Centre, London’s exclusive One Hyde Park, Barcelona’s Casa Mila, and New York City’s World Trade Center. Only Chicago gets short shrift, unless you consider the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe in Plano, Illinois, part of Chicago. One chapter covers why architects are frequently hypersexual. Perhaps, as Moore later claims, “Architecture was the lubricant for the penetration of the skyline.” It’s brash, and opinion at times overtakes the book’s premise. But what could be more appropriate? --Laurie Borman

Review

“[A] lively account. . . Moore’s deftly chosen and analyzed examples range from Alberti’s Tempio Malatestiano and Jamaa el Fna “square” in Marrakesh to Manhattan’s High Line. This is a highly engaging. . . vision of architecture’s emotive and pragmatic powers.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Thoughtful and elegantly written, Why We Build will appeal to anyone with an interest in architecture, and the egos, power struggles and human relationships behind the creation of our surroundings.” (The Spectator)

“Intelligent and cultured... Astringent and subtle.” (The Independent)

“With unfailingly fresh insight. Moore decrypts the ideological narratives of buildings with the same fluency he brings to bear on materials, forms and spaces: today’s architectural criticism rarely seems so humane or intelligent.” (Sunday Telegraph)

“A fascinating work of love, intellectual curiosity and endurance…Suggest[s] the possibility of a more grown-up and subtle way of thinking about our architecture. (Literary Review)

“Supremely ambitious…[Moore] writes with economy, clarity and wit. The prospect of 400 pages in his presence is not an unhappy one.” (Building Design)

“Studious and serious, with meaningful insights on where we are going in the future. . . . In today’s world of flip journalism, Rowan Moore is refreshing.” (Frank Gehry)

“A vivid account. . . Stimulat[es] the reader.” (Wall Street Journal)

“Rowan Moore. . . can build: He is trained in the craft himself. He also knows how to write descriptively and deliciously. . . An engaging, joyous read. . . Moore’s writing is lithe and sensual. . . His delight in the subject is everywhere and infectious.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“[A] lively, wide-ranging and thought-provoking new book . . . . Devastatingly funny if deeply disturbing. . . . No other newspaper architecture critic [is] as sharp an assessor of the built environment as Moore.” (New York Review of Books)

Product Details

  • File Size: 38930 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Design; Reprint edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Publication Date: August 20, 2013
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BATNQ7E
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #900,367 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Moore, a trained architect and former director of the Architecture Foundation in London theorizes about the relationship of buildings to emotions. As a critic, he calls his contemporaries on their mistakes, and is humanistic in doing so, saving his praise for those (too few) who have honored the context of their projects. Most of all, he points to the success of projects that honor the people they serve, that are quietly inserted into the life there is.

Highest in his echelon is Lina Bo Bardi, an Italian-born Brazilian who, decades ago, designed an art center that simply blended into Sao Paulo’s Trianon, a public park. Lower down is One Hyde Park, a set of “harsh and assertive” blocks of apartments selling at 15 to 140 millions of pounds to foreign investors, and spoiling the look of Knightsbridge as well as access to park views. Lowest is Dubai where spectacular and fantastic “show-off” towers rise above imported beaches and the nasty “crisis in the drains.”

Moore takes us around the world and across time, to discuss the visions that build pyramids and world fairs, the hope that designs housing to accommodate chronic poverty, the open mind that enables futuristic technology. He comments on the failure of the “big roof” concept (think “airports”), and success of the simplest laundry (think “shaded pool”). He observes Manhattan’s contentious rebuilding the World Trade Center simultaneous to the collaborative re-purposing an abandoned railway track as a linear park.

Moore is amused by but concerned about starchitect power plays, names that dominate the profession, some who will squash opposition.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Only a fraction read to date, but impressed.
Examines interesting, often offbeat, situations. Comes to strong, convincing conclusions.
Brilliant use of English (those Brits!). Sometimes goes overboard with colorful wording.
Recommended to anyone with interest in architecture or urban development.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating book!
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Format: Hardcover
I found nothing to disagree with in this delightful book. A must read for anyone who hires or works with an architect.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is perfect, so as the shipping!
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