Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago

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9780226423227: Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago
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For more than a decade, Pulitzer Prize-winning "Chicago Tribune" architecture critic Blair Kamin has been writing fiery, intelligent essays on the state of contemporary architecture. His subjects range from high-rises to highways, parks to public housing, Frank Lloyd Wright to Frank Gehry. "Why Architecture Matters" collects the best of Kamin's acclaimed columns, offering both a look at America's foremost architectural city and a taste of Kamin's penetrating, witty style of critique.

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About the Author:

Blair Kamin has been the architecture critic of the "Chicago Tribune" since 1992. He also is a contributing editor of "Architectural Record." His work has been recognized with 20 professional awards, including such major honors as the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the George Polk Award for Criticism and the American Institute of Architects' Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement. Kamin also wrote the commentaries for "Tribune Tower: American Landmark." He lives in a classic Chicago frame house with his wife, "Chicago Tribune" writer Barbara Mahany, and their son Willie.

From the Inside Flap:

"Activist criticism is based on the idea that architecture effects everyone and therefore should be understandable to everyone," Blair Kamin writes in "Why Architecture Matters." "Activist criticism invites readers to be more than consumers who passively accept the buildings that are handed to them. It bids them, instead, to become citizens who take a leading role in shaping their surroundings." The Pulitzer Prize-winning "Chicago Tribune" critic has taught millions of readers exactly what this approach can do in the decade he has been writing his fiery, intelligent essays on the state of contemporary architecture. Working from the palette of Chicago, America's foremost architectural city, Kamin also paints on a broad canvas, and in his work he has assessed everything from Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain to the "green skyscraper" as it is developing in Germany to the haunting U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.
"Why Architecture Matters" collects the best of Kamin's columns, including his acclaimed series advocating the intelligent development of Chicago's lakefront. The columns are organized thematically, providing an accessible and provocative view of architecture in the 1990s, from soaring skyscrapers to vibrant immigrant neighborhoods, troubled public housing projects and sprawling suburbs. Because Chicago serves as a barometer of national design trends, these writings shed new light on American architecture and urbanism during a decade that Kamin labels "The Nervous Nineties" a period of unparalleled affluence and underlying anxiety, of soothing retro buildings and provocative new ones that express the frenzied state of modern life. As Kamin demonstrates in his piercing, often witty, critiques, Chicago perfectly represents the era's contradictions, rediscovering itself as a city but losing its architectural nerve.
An architecture critic's most important role, Kamin believes, is to articulate standards that help people judge the quality of their surroundings, contrasting the esoteric theory of how buildings and public places are supposed to work with the unpredictable reality of everyday life. Throughout "Why Architecture Matters," he pursues the question of how people actually use space, and how architects and planners might better design it to enrich human experience. Architecture matters, Kamin argues, because it simultaneously reflects and affects how we live. "Every building," he writes, "is a new piece of the evolving metropolis, a new layer of the ever-changing urban collage. This collective work of art forms an unflinching record of who we are and what we do.""

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9780226423210: Why Architecture Matters: Lessons from Chicago

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ISBN 10:  0226423212 ISBN 13:  9780226423210
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, 2001
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