For Siegfried Kracauer, the urban ornament was not just an aspect of design; it was the medium through which city dwellers interpreted the metropolis itself. In Ornaments of the Metropolis, Henrik Reeh traces variations on the theme of the ornament in Kracauer's writings on urbanism, from his early journalism in Germany between the wars to his "sociobiography" of Jacques Offenbach in Paris. Kracauer (1889-1966), often associated with the Frankfurt School and the intellectual milieu of Walter Benjamin, is best known for his writings on cinema and the philosophy of history.
The Pan Am Building and the reaction to it signaled the end of an era. Begun when the modernist aesthetic and the architectural star system ruled architectural theory and practice, the completed building became a symbol of modernism's fall from grace.
Le Corbusier's Hands offers a poetic and personal portrait of Le Corbusier—a nuanced portrayal that is in contrast to the popular image of Le Corbusier the aloof modernist. The author knew Le Corbusier intimately for thirty years, first as his draftsman and main assistant, later as his colleague and personal friend. In this book, written in the mid-1980s, Wogenscky remembers his mentor in a series of revealing personal statements and evocative reflections unlike anything that exists in the vast literature on Le Corbusier.
Standards and codes dictate virtually all aspects of urban development. The same standards for subdividing land, grading, laying streets and utilities, and configuring rights-of-way and street widths to accommodate cars (rather than pedestrians) have been adopted in many areas of the world regardless of variations in local environments. In The Code of the City,Eran Ben-Joseph examines the relationship between standards and place making.
Amidst city concrete and suburban sprawl, Americans are discovering new ways to reconnect with the natural world. From community gardens in New York's Lower East Side to homeless shelters in California, the search for a more sustainable future has led grassroots groups to a profound reconnection to place and to the natural world.
The meaning of a message, says William Mitchell, depends on the context of its reception. "Shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater produces a dramatically different effect from barking the same word to a squad of soldiers with guns," he observes. In Placing Words, Mitchell looks at the ways in which urban spaces and places provide settings for communication and at how they conduct complex flows of information through the twenty-first century city.
Buying land to conserve it is not a recent phenomenon. Buying Nature chronicles the evolution of land acquisition as a conservation strategy in the United States since the late 1700s. It goes beyond the usual focus on conservation successes to provide a critical assessment of both public and private land acquisition efforts.
In Event-Cities 3, Bernard Tschumi explores the complex and productive triangulation of architectural concept, context, and content. There is no architecture without a concept, an overriding idea that gives coherence and identity to a building. But there is also no architecture without context—historical, geographical, cultural—or content (what happens inside). Concept, context, and content may be in unison or purposely discordant.
Codes, as systematic forms of regulation and organization, are not the innocuous or neutral documents they are often considered to be. Operating with or without legal sanction, they are formulated to ensure specific and predictable outcomes and are laden with authorial and authoritative intent. Nevertheless, while codes have come to be an increasingly pervasive force in contemporary architecture, they are still frequently dismissed as onerous and quotidian.
With Me++ the author of City of Bits and e-topia completes an informal trilogy examining the ramifications of information technology in everyday life. William Mitchell describes the transformation of wireless technology in the hundred years since Marconi—the scaling up of networks and the scaling down of the apparatus for transmission and reception. It is, he says, as if "Brobdingnag had been rebooted as Lilliput"; Marconi's massive mechanism of tower and kerosene engine has been replaced by a palm-size cellphone.