cover image AIRPORTS: A Century of Architecture

AIRPORTS: A Century of Architecture

Hugh Pearman, . . Abrams, $75 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5012-2

With a text rich in information clearly presented, and with some of the 325 illustrations (175 in full color) rising above the usual stock and archival fare, one would think the results of this niche history would be satisfying. A clear knowledge of (and affection for) his subject informs the presentation by Pearman, architecture correspondent for London's Sunday Times , but the text lacks the spark of travel from the opening sentence: "We tend not to stop and look at airports." The layout is disjointed, with photos placed and bled in a perfunctory attempt at variety rather than a design suitable to its subject, which suggests speed, romance, the unknown—and the state of waiting for them. Still, Pearman is affable and voluble on the development of aircraft and the architecture that serves them, and he hits unexpected locales like Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town (though the overwhelming emphasis is on the U.S., U.K. and Europe). A sepia photo of a 1930s interior of France's Rochambeau flying boat, packed with stylish women at a bar and lounging on bunk beds, for example, is arresting after a parade of uninhabited interiors and exteriors from a variety of eras. The overall effect, while offering all the necessary amenities, falls short of charm and adventure, much as functionality defines the beginnings and ends of most flights. (Nov.)