The Monumental Impulse
In The Monumental Impulse, art historian George Hersey investigates many ties between the biological sciences and the building arts. Hersey draws striking analogies between building types and animal species. He examines the relationship between physical structures and living organisms, from bridges to mosques, from molecules to mammals. Insects, mollusks, and birds are given separate chapters, and three final chapters focus on architectural form and biological reproduction. Hersey also discusses architecture in connection with the body's interior processes and shows how buildings may be said to reproduce, adapt, and evolve, like other inanimate or "nonbiotic" entities such as computer programs and robots.
About the Author
George Hersey is Emeritus Professor of Art History at Yale University. He is the author of numerous books, including The Evolution of Allure: Sexual Selection from the Medici Venus to the Incredible Hulk (MIT Press, 1996) and The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture: Speculations on Ornament from Vitruvius to Venturi (MIT Press, 1988).
"In this engaging, eminently readable, and frequently surprisingexploration of the human urge to build, Hersey invites us to viewarchitecture from an unaccustomed perspective—the perspective ofbiology. . . . With this coupling of architecture and biology, Herseyis fully engaged in that Enlightenment spirit biologist E. O. Wilsoncalls 'the quest for the unity of knowledge.'"
—Norman Crowe, Department of Architecture, University of Notre Dame