ABC of Architecture

James F. O'Gorman, Author, Dennis E. McGrath, Illustrator University of Pennsylvania Press $16.95 (144p) ISBN 978-0-8122-1631-8
Architects are the artists often the most severely criticized by the public. Ask people who have had a house designed about the importance of an architect, and most will tell you that they had the design ideas, that the architect supplied only technical help, or that without the owner's watchful eye, the architect would have made an ugly mess. O'Gorman's succinct book, intended for the lay reader and client, introduces the reader to the complex juggling act required of architects to produce works in our oldest art form. Borrowing Vitruvius's triangle of function, structure and beauty, the author shows how each aspect is dependent on the other two. Three chapters, each dedicated to a single factor, take the reader through many illustrated examples of the world's greatest buildings, while simultaneously revealing the purpose of conventional architectural drawings: plan, section and elevation. The final two chapters provide an introduction to understanding the meaning of architectural forms and features. Included are a useful glossary and short but broad-ranging list of suggestions for further reading. O'Gorman's background is in architectural history, with published studies of three of America's most important architects--Richardson, Sullivan and Wright--and his mastery of the subject shows in his straightforward, lucid prose. In a book so short and easy to read, O'Gorman provides an introduction to the field that should help clients better communicate with their architects, and the public better appreciate and criticize their built environment. (Dec.) FYI: O'Gorman's study of H.H. Richardson is reviewed below.
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 127 pages - 978-0-8122-3423-7
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-19430-3
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